Rockdale River Trail offers a beautiful natural escape through Rockdale County, just southeast of the Atlanta metropolitan area. The trail is hilly and winding as it goes through heavily forested areas and rock outcroppings, and crosses several creeks and wetland areas.
It begins at the southern end of the Arabia Mountain Trail, which in turn connects to the South River Trail that heads three miles up to Martin Luther King Jr. High School.
As the Rockdale River Trail continues southeast, it passes through the Alexander Lakes area and Panola Mountain State Park. This is a pristine natural setting, where recreational opportunities abound: birding, paddling, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, geocaching, even tree climbing excursions.
From the Alexander Lake Road and Flat Bridge Road intersection, the trail continues its southeast course for nearly two miles until it meets Union Church Road, where there is a small trailhead parking lot, but no other facilities. The trail continues another two miles from there to South Rockdale Community Park, where you'll find a trailhead, parking, and other amenities.
Newly completed in 2014, an extension continues the trail down to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a community of monks that was founded in 1944, which is one of the most popular attractions in the county today. A visitor center on the grounds provides a history of the monastery, a gift store, and a café. There are also gardens to tour and Abbey Church with beautiful stained glass windows made by the monks.
On the western half of the trail, you'll find the Alexander Lakes Trailhead about 7.5 miles south of Lithonia (Exit 74 off I-20). The trailhead is at the junction of Alexander Lakes Road and Flat Bridge Road. Since this trailhead is on Panola Mountain State Park property, there is a daily cost for parking. Bathrooms and water are available.
On the eastern half of the trail, parking is available at the Lorraine Trailhead (3465 Highway 138 SE, Conyers), as well as at the South Rockdale Community Park Trailhead (3909 East Fairview Road), about 8.5 miles southeast of Conyers (Exit 80 off I-20). Bathrooms, water, picnic shelter, and a playground are available there.
The eastern terminus of the trail is the Monastery of the Holy Spirit (2625 Georgia 212, Conyers).