Outdoors,  State Parks

Sweetwater Creek: State Parks Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Sweetwater Creek is the second park on our list of state parks within 60 miles of Atlanta. The Park is about 18 miles west of downtown in the unincorporated city of Lithia Springs. Sweetwater Creek was established in 1972, with the goal of preserving the Civil War ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company and the surrounding Sweetwater Creek valley. The New Manchester textile mill was built by former Georgia Governor Charles J. McDonald and Colonel James Rogers. Operation of the mill began on December 21, 1849. At the time, the five-story mill was the tallest building in the metro area. The mill ceased operations in July 1864, when General Sherman’s troops burned the building during his capture of Atlanta. The original acreage of the park was 1,097. Today, Sweetwater Creek is 2,574 acres. Guests to the park can enjoy activities such as camping, glamping in one of 10 yurts, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, geocaching, hiking, and a visit to the mill.

New Manchester textile mill ruins

On my last visit to Sweetwater Creek State Park, I was accompanied by my pup Hiroki. I was reluctant to bring the pup. Hiro loves his walks, but once he is done, he is done. The last thing I wanted to do was carry a 60-pound dog through the trails. Despite the risk, I decided to take him along. The day was cool, yet sunny. Ideal weather for hiking with a double-coated dog. We took the red trail that runs along the creek. The red trail is an easy hike until you arrive at the textile mill ruins. After this point, there is a sign warning you that the trail becomes moderately difficult. If you plan to visit the park with your four-legged companion, I would consider the fitness level and size of your dog before attempting this trail. The red trail is quite scenic and peaceful, but there were a lot of large rocks to climb over. A couple of times I had to give Hiro a little pull on his harness to help him up, but overall, I was quite impressed with his enthusiasm on the trail.

Hiroki in the wild
Along the red trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Once we made it to the end of the red trail, we took the white trail back towards the visitor’s center. The portion of the white trail we walked was much easier and meandered into the woods and away from the creek for a bit before connecting with the red trail. Hiroki didn’t begin to slow down until we made it past the mill on our return. The park also has a 215-acre lake that can be reached along the white trail had we decided to walk its entirety, but I was not going to push my luck with the pup. That will be an adventure for another day.

The white trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park website