Rockdale River Trail


23 Reviews

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Rockdale River Trail Facts

States: Georgia
Counties: Rockdale
Length: 9.5 miles
Trail end points: 2654-2694 Stockbridge Hwy 155 (Stockbridge) and 2625 GA-212 (Conyers)
Trail surfaces: Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 7485946

Rockdale River Trail Description


Although located in the Atlanta suburbs only a short drive from the city, the Rockdale River Trail and other connected trails in Panola Mountain State Park and the broader Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area feel a world away. Steep hills and dense woods might make trail users imagine that they’re deep in the Appalachians.

The Rockdale River Trail roughly follows the drainage of the South River for 9.5 miles. It also connects to a larger network of more than 30 miles of paved trails in the Arabia Mountain PATH system that meander throughout the isolated granite mountains, wetlands, and pine and oak forests in the National Heritage Area.

About the Route

The Rockdale River Trail starts where it meets the Arabia Mountain PATH on a bridge spanning the South River at the northern border of the 1,635-acre Panola Mountain State Park. 

Heading southeast for 0.6 miles, the trail reaches a junction with the Panola Mountain Greenway. Trail users pass a 100-acre granite outcrop along the way, which is accessible only on ranger-led hikes. The green­way also accesses the 1.3-mile Lake Loop Trail, which overlooks the southern shore of Upper Alexander Lake, one of two fishing lakes in the state park.

Throughout the park, the route is a hilly one, with turnouts for mountain biking labeled for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. The only restroom and drinking water are located at the trailhead for Alexander Lake and the Parker House. 

The Rockdale River Trail leaves the park about 1.7 miles past the lake and crosses Union Church Road. The trail then goes forward for 350 feet and turns left (unsigned) onto Daniels Bridge Road. This begins a section of on-and-off-road travel for about a mile alongside the South River.

The southernmost 5.5 miles of trail reflect the hilly, wooded, remote terrain found in the state park. The difference is that there are more trailheads, restrooms, drinking fountains, and recreational facilities along this segment, boosting accessibility for visitors.

After passing through South Rockdale Community Park and Lorraine Park, the trail crosses Scott Highway/GA 212 on a covered pedestrian bridge before arriving at the serene grounds of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Trappist monks moved to the site in 1944 and built the monastery, which opened in the 1950s. Today it doubles as a place of worship and a popular tourist attraction.


At the northern end of the trail, the Rockdale River Trail connects to the Arabia Mountain PATH.


Parking and Trail Access

The Rockdale River Trail runs between 2654-2694 Stockbridge Hwy 155 (Stockbridge) and 2625 GA-212 (Conyers), with parking at either end.

Parking is also available at:

  • 5089 Flat Bridge Rd SW (Stockbridge)
  • 3909 E Fairview Rd SW (Stockbridge)
  • Lorraine Park, 3465 GA-138 (Stockbridge)

See TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Rockdale River Trail Reviews

Very enjoyable!

It was certainly hillier than I expected. I have ridden many trails I have found on TraiLink and this is on the top of my list of great trails.

We did all 9 miles and it was amazing. Lots of hills and even the south river bridge, would recommend this trail if you are looking for something challenging

We did all 9 miles and it was amazing. Lots of hills and even the south river bridge, would recommend this trail if you are looking for something challenging


Hard trail to ride for beginner cyclist but scenery are worth it . Lots of hills.

great hike or bike trail

Love a long trail in the woods . Only 2 road crossings. Clean and well kept. Lucky to have so many nice connected trails in this area.


Nice track

Rode from Panola Mountain Nature office to the Monastery. Great payment! One of my favorites.

Nice Trail

Very nice track.

A fine, fine, trail

Great paved trail. It is actually three or more trails, as this trail interconnects to several others. Concrete almost the entire way, and very smooth. I rode this on a Friday afternoon in October and it was very quiet. Went all the way to the Monastery and back and then to the Visitors center and back. Highly recommended.

Fantastic trail to ride and love how it connects to the Arabia mtn and panola mtn trails! We started at the monastery which is a great start point. Glad I have an ebike because of the hills!!

Fantastic trail to ride and love how it connects to the Arabia mtn and panola mtn trails! We started at the monastery which is a great start point. Glad I have an ebike because of the hills!!

Over the River and thru the Woods

We loved this trail. Lots of HILLS and beautiful woods. Something new to experience at every turn. The Monastery was a lovely place to stop and call halfway. We started at the Lyon Rd trailhead and it was just about 20 miles round trip. Would do again for a good workout!!

Hill, hills and more hills

Great trail! We enjoyed the trail. It has lots of never ending hills but it was a great workout. Trail is wide enough to share with walkers and runners but keep in mind that we didn’t see much of them.

Three-Trail System is a Roller Coaster!

The Rockdale River Trail is seamlessly connected with the Arabia Mountain Trail and a portion of the South River Trail, forming a network of ~25 miles of trails (I see various measures). This entire system is hard surface (mostly concrete with a few asphalt stretches). Even though significant portions of the trail are wooded/shaded, the trail itself is usually quite clear of debris (well maintained)... unless you are riding very soon after stormy or windy days).

When we ride near dawn or dusk, we often see wildlife along the trails (deer, rabbits, snakes, turkeys). The stretch of the Rockdale River trail between Union Church Road and S.R. 138 that runs above/along the South River and is probably my favorite portion of the entire connected system, as you listen for the water cascading over the rocks down below.

Rockdale County recently (~September 2019) constructed bathrooms at the trailheads located off Union Church Road (at Daniels Bridge Road intersection) and off S.R. 138 (at the East Fairview Road intersection)… the latter of which has full plumbing (running water + sewer).

As other comments on this site indicate, this trail system has lots of hills and curves (this is a roller coaster, not a "rails to trails" like the Silver Comet!). So, if you are a beginner, expect to cover a shorter distance than you normally would. And remember, along with uphills come downhills, so make sure your brakes are in working order!

Nice But Hilly

Wide, concrete trail very well maintained. But somewhat hilly. Has a seamless connection to the Arabia Mountain Trail. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit at the south end is a good place to start -- convenient parking. Also you can get a sandwich lunch (and tour if you like) at the Monastery.


They take care of their trails very well! I never felt unsafe while in the park! For you Pokemon Go players, there is one gym, two poké stops and Quite a few fire types. I didn't have much trouble with Pokemon being off trails. So you shouldn't have to worry too much if you don't mind going on the dirt trails

Great trail. Tough for beginners

I'm new to cycling and this is really the first paved bike trail I've been on. I loved the layout of the trail. Cycling mid-afternoon on a hot June day still had shade from foliage over about 50% of the trail. I started at Panola Mountain State Park and rode to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. About 9.5 miles by TrailLink but my GPS showed a bit longer. The trail is well maintained. Why I say it's not for beginners is the hills. If you're a climber you'll love it. I knew from the first mile riding down some steep winding downhill runs that I was going to pay dearly for it on the return and I did. It was one of the tougher workouts I'd endured. Lessons learned for my next trip (Yes, I will do this trail again) 1) Bring more water! It was hot and I ran out of water early. I'll bring a Camelbak next time. 2) Don't count on your phone GPS. My iPhone GPS overheated and shutdown before the turnaround point. You really don't need the GPS if you familiarize yourself with the map. I did get turned around a couple of times though on some loops. 3) Next trip I'll start at the Monastery and work this in reverse. That will let me take on the worst of the hills when I'm fresher. Enjoy the ride. It's worth the trip.

Great Ride

My wife and I just purchased new bikes and live close to the trail. We've been riding the trail now for about a month and have really enjoyed it. It has some hills for the beginner like we are but we have been able to do at least 11 to 12 mile a day.....Going to try a new section this week. Good time is after 5:00 until about 7:30 during that time its pretty populated with bikers and people walking. Park at the Monastery in Conyers.

A Destination Site and More To Come

An extension to the Rockdale River Trail was completed and dedicated in mid-June of 2014 and what an extension it is!!! The Rockdale River Trail now totals 9.5 miles from the end of the Arabia Mountain Trail, which is a tad over 10 miles itself. That totals to 19.6 miles for both of the main trails combined, one way.
On top of that, construction was also completed on a 1.75 mile loop and a 1.75 mile long spur one way to the main entrance of Panola Mountain State Park. Both the loop and the spur are located at the Alexander Lakes Traihead on the Rockdale River Trail.
My wife and I have walked the trail and I have rode the trail. There are no flat parts on this trail. Everything has a slope to it. Like a previous reviewer wrote, it is like a paved mountain bike trail.
In the future, the trail will extend to the Olde Conyers Trail that now ends at Johnson Park. No schedule has been announced for the construction of this part.
This is a great trail to walk and ride. It definitely is a destination trail to come to and have fun. Remember, what goes down, must come up.

Trail complete to monastery!

What a great trail. It has expanded so much in the last year or so.. You can now go all the way to the monastery. Had a wonderful ride today going from the monastery to MLK High School trailhead and back with a side trip to Panola Mtn.

Am so blessed to have such a nice trail system within reach. It is simply lovely. Agree with a previous reviewer. This is like a mountain bike trail for road bikes. Fantastic!

Trailhead Clarifications

In response to "kdianich", there are many trailheads to the Arabian Mountain Trail, The Rockdale River Trail and the South River Trail. You might want to pull up the Path Foundation web site, which is Then pull up their maps and go to the trail that you want. The above noted trails are all lumped together and the maps are quite well done. You will be able to see the trailheads on their maps. The Path Foundation is the builder of all these trails. The Arabian Mountain and Trail, the Rockdale River Trail and part of the South River Trail are all seamlessly connected. The City of Lithonia TH and the Stonecrest Mall TH have no facilities and they can have some drama around them. The Evans mill TH, The Panola Shoals TH and the Murphey-Candler School TH are all too inconvenient. The THs that we use are the Union Church Road TH, the Browns Mill Road (GA 212) TH, The Alexander Lakes TH (Fee), The Panola Mtn. State Parks TH (fee) on GA 212 and Nature Center TH on (Klondike Road). Yes, there is a completed trail from Alexander Lakes to the Panola Mountain State Park Entrance. And the trail from the South Rockdale Community Park to the Monastery is being worked on. Part of it will be done in a couple of months and the other part will be completed in 2015. Then, a biker will be able to ride from Lithonia or the Stonecrest Mall all the way to the Monastery. That will be great.

South River Trail Extended

I cannot find this section when I search, but there is a very nice section of trail at Hwy 155 and Panola Rd. Ample parking with a portojohn. It goes west to MLK Jr high school (1.5 miles). The eastward direction goes approximately 2 miles to connect with the Arabia Mtn Trail, the open section that is at the utility right-of-way, south of Browns Mill Rd., and north of the South River bridge crossing.

This eastward section is fairly flat, has nice views of the river and is a newer section, although I was able to find it on Map My Ride.

Beautiful Trail

Almost feels like a mountain bike trail on a road bike!

I can't wait to go to the monastery.

Rockdale River Trail completed to Monastery

The trail head is open at the monastery. Come on Down. Construction has started toward E. Fairfiew and Hwy138

Great trail

We love this trail. We get on it via the Arabia Mtn trail. It's a lovely ride through the woods, with a nice lake view. This is not a rail trail though. It follows the terrain & that terrain is hilly. For bikers that means you get to enjoy down hill stretches as a reward for the climbs. For pedestrians there are multiple rest spots with benches to take a break on. With the connection to the Arabia Mtn trail you have access to more miles of similar trails. These are nicely paved trails.

Destination Trail East

In December of 2012, a 1.8 mile middle segment of the trail was completed between existing 1.1 mile and 2.4 mile trails thereby making up a 5.3 mile total length. More mileage is coming in the next couple of years. What's even better is that the northern end of the trail seamlessly hooks up with the southern end of the Arabia Mountain Trail at the South River.

Both the Rockdale River Trail and the Arabia Mountain Trails are not flat. They both have plenty of hills and very little flat parts. In the newly completed 1.8 mile segment, there is a hill the locals are calling Mt. Sprayberry. The Sprayberry family owned most of the property in this area. Going north, a rider crosses a curved structural bridge over a creek that feeds into the South river, makes a hard left and immediately begins an uphill switchback climb for about a half of a mile. You can't get any momentum here to go up the hill. At the crest of the climb, the slope even gets steeper. Be careful going down this hill. At the bottom of the hill, there is a hard right hand turn to go back over the curved bridge. Control your speed. In my opinion, Mt. Sprayberry is the toughest hill to climb in the Arabia Mountain and Rockdale River Trail systems.

The scenery is mostly forests, rock outcroppings and some vistas. There are many creek crossings and the trails parallel the South River in many areas. At times, one can see the deer cross the trails. So, be careful.

All in all, great place to get some good exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

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