The hiking trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park offer rugged outdoor beauty along the rocky, boulder-lined stream bed and banks of Sweetwater Creek.
Length: 4 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Highlights: The hike visits the ruins of a textile mill destroyed in the Civil War and travels the rocky bluffs of a rushing whitewater creek – all within minutes outside of Atlanta.
This four mile hiking trail leaves from the Sweetwater Creek State Park visitor center (named the “blue trail”), following blue blazes as it travels several miles through deciduous forest, both climbing and descending as the trail approaches and runs along the banks of the rushing Sweetwater Creek.
At 1 mile, after climbing and descending a series of wide switchbacks, the hiking trail approaches the ruins of the New Manchester textile mill, providing a view of the brick mill ruins from a wooden deck.
The blue hiking trail departs the ruins to travel further into the park, rising and falling more frequently as the trail follows along the creek rushing downstream. The trail descends sharply towards Sweetwater Creek at 1.8 miles, meeting the rushing whitewater of Sweetwater Creek.
Sweetwater Creek tumbles and falls through a rocky creek bed of boulders and rock, creating impressive whitewater rapids throughout this lower area of the creek South of mill ruins. From here, turn left, hiking along the red blazed trail following the banks of the creek, traveling upstream. The red hiking trail meets the ruins of the New Manchester textile mill again at 2.9 miles.
You’ll leave the mill on the blue blazed hiking trail, retracing the first mile of your hike back to the trailhead at the visitor center and parking area. The visitor center is worth a stop before you leave the park… rated LEED platinum, it’s listed as the most environmentally responsible building in Georgia, featuring a vegetative roof, solar power, rainwater capture and reuse, among other environmentally friendly building features.
Parking fee: $5 daily parking.
Directions and more info on Sweetwater Creek can be found on the Georgia State Parks site at www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.
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