Hiking Sweetwater Creek State Park near Atlanta: our favorite trails

Hiking Sweetwater Creek State Park near Atlanta: our favorite trails

Hike Sweetwater Creek State Park's fantastic running and hiking trails near Atlanta, exploring a rushing, whitewater-filled creek, Civil War mill ruins and a beautiful, rolling forest.

Grab some fresh air and cardio in a beautiful forest filled with whitewater, waterfalls, and historic ruins: Sweetwater Creek State Park offers all the beauty of a North Georgia outdoor adventure, but without a long drive from Atlanta. The wide-flowing Sweetwater Creek tumbles in churning whitewater, slicing through a rolling forest just outside the city limits. The creek’s boulder-filled bed and rocky, sandy shores make for some of the best hiking and trail running near Atlanta: it’s one of our all-time favorite hiking destinations, with over nine miles of well-groomed trails that meander through acres of scenic beauty.

Hike Sweetwater Creek State Park's top trails to waterfalls, whitewater and mill ruins near Atlanta

Sweetwater Creek State Park, located just outside Atlanta’s western perimeter, spans over 2500 acres of creekside landscape. It’s a great near-city destination for a family hike, some quiet time in nature or a pulse-raising trail run, with mile after mile of tumbling whitewater, wildlife-filled forest, wildflowers, and history. The park’s landscape varies widely and changes regularly on its meandering trails, hiking both cliff-filled and sandy creek shores, expansive meadows and densely shaded forest.

Thanks to its close proximity to the city, this Georgia State Park has achieved popularity worthy of its beauty, so expect heavy traffic on the park’s popular trails, especially on sunny weekends and holidays.

Sweetwater Creek State Park Trails

Hike our favorite trails at the park to score some of the best outdoor adventures near Atlanta. Check them out one by one, or combine several trails to hike some extended mileage and explore more of the park’s incredible terrain:

Hike the Sweetwater Creek Red Trail in Atlanta to Civil War mill ruins and a whitewater and waterfall-filled creek

Sweetwater Red Trail
2 miles

Hike Sweetwater Creek’s banks to the towering brick ruins of the New Manchester Mill and the sandy shores and expansive rock outcrops on the creek’s whitewater and waterfall-filled shoals.

Hike the Sweetwater Red and White Trail Loop to waterfalls, Civil War ruins and through a green forest filled with wildlife near Atlanta, GA

Sweetwater Red and White Trail Loop
3.1 miles

Hike this two-trail loop to the banks of the whitewater-filled Sweetwater Creek, catching sight of the Civil War mill ruins on the Red Trail. Then, follow the White Trail in a loop back to the trailhead, exploring a lush, green, mossy forest frequented by wildlife like deer and songbirds.

Hike the Sweetwater Creek State Park Yellow Trail to views of Civil War mill ruins across a whitewater-filled creek near Atlanta, GA

Sweetwater Yellow Trail
3.4 miles

Hike the yellow-blazed trail through the park’s lesser-traveled northern forest. Cross the creek via a large bridge, hike a loop on Sweetwater’s eastern shore, spot an ancient Native American cave, and catch views of the Sweetwater mill ruins from across the creek.

Hike the White Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park near Atlanta, exploring tumbling waterfalls and Civil War mill ruins

Sweetwater White Trail
4.1 miles

Hike diverse terrain on this two-trail combo. Hike the Sweetwater Red Trail on the creek’s sandy, boulder-filled banks before looping to follow the White Trail to a small lake, through young deciduous forest and cleared meadows.

Hike the weetwater Creek Orange Trail to views of the Atlanta skyline

Sweetwater Creek Orange Trail
4.75 miles

Hike a two-trail duo on Sweetwater’s Yellow Trail and the park’s newest trail. The hike crosses to Sweetwater Creek’s eastern shore, catching cross-creek views of the Civil War mill ruins, and upstream views of the creek’s whitewater shoals. The route also scores elevated views of the Atlanta skyline and a view of a large, prehistoric cave used as shelter by Native Americans.

What to Pack Hiking? Our hiking gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested gear.

What to pack?
Our favorite hiking gear

Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry.

More Sweetwater Creek adventures

Explore the park’s wildlife-filled, grassy lake shore by kayak or canoe. Paddle the glassy waters of Sweetwater Creek’s reservoir lake by stand-up paddleboard. Camp in the park’s brand new campground with modern facilities, or overnight in style in Sweetwater Creek’s new yurt village. Find more ideas for adventure in our Sweetwater Creek State Park destination guide.

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.