Sweetwater Creek State Park – 58 and 59 from 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Atlanta

Sweetwater Creek

Sweetwater Creek

We had a gorgeous weekend in Atlanta and as I’m wont to do (I’ve always wanted to say that) I had to get a hike in.  A buddy suggested Sweetwater Creek State Park, so that’s where we headed.  I didn’t check my book beforehand and when I got home and looked found out the area we hiked actually covered two of the hikes in the book.  There are a few trails throughout the park and we started out on the red blazed trail, also called the historic trail (more on that later) and finished our hike via the white blazed trail, along with the Blue blazed trail these are referred to as the non-game trails.

The park is located approximately 25 miles west of Atlanta in Lithia Springs.  We entered the park via the Factory Shoals Road entrance and paid the $5.00 per car fee to enter the park.  As you enter the park Sparks Reservoir will be immediately on the left.  Drive straight back to get the visitor’s center and trailheads, you’ll pass several picnic areas along the way.  The park was very busy the day I went, I’m sure people are taking advantage of the gorgeous weather knowing that cooler temps are just around the corner.   We parked, got our gear together, put the leash on Boo, grabbed a map and headed out.  Jumping topics here but I really should get a little better with reading and navigating via a map.  In all fairness many of the maps the parks give out can be confusing as they only put things on the map they feel are important and sometimes things I think are important to pinpointing where I am are left out.  That’s right… I blame my shitty map-reading skills on shitty maps.  Don’t hate.

As mentioned the park was busy and traffic, especially at the trailhead, was heavy.  Just a short ways in we saw a Blue Heron perched high up in a tree, it looked odd as I usually see them along the shore or wading in the shallows. Later on I saw a Bald Eagle, unfortunately it flew over quickly and I didn’t get a chance to take a pic.  That was very awesome, first time I’ve seen one in the wild.  We proceeded along the trail which ran parallel to Sweetwater Creek, about 1/2 mile in you come to the ruins of the New Manchester Mill.  If you’ve read some of my other posts you know I love a hike with history so this was awesome to see.  The factory was burnt to the ground on July 9, 1864 by Union troops.  All employees were taken prisoner and moved to Marietta, later they were moved north and given the option to pledge allegiance to the Union and be released as free Northerners, they were commanded not to travel back south while the country was still at war.  I didn’t find any info as to what the other options were if you didn’t choose to become a Yankee.

New Manchester Factory ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park

New Manchester Factory ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Past the ruins the trail continues along the creek and offers a bit of challenging terrain as the area is quite rocky, as I attempted to navigate the rocks my pup simply ran up and down them pulling me along on the leash and getting frustrated with me for not keeping up.  For some reason she was extra rambunctious on this hike and hard to control, maybe there were just too many smells to process all at once.  I was too focused on looking at the scenery and navigating the rocks and forgot to take more pictures but did get a few of  the creek.  My buddy that went with me said he’ll be back soon with his fishing pole.  We saw several smaller fish along the banks so I’m sure there are larger ones out there.  He doesn’t have a very good record anyhow… I’m pretty sure the fish are safe.

In total we hiked 3.85 miles in 2.5 hours.  I’d say overall the trail was moderate difficulty. There was one hill that seemed to go on forever but other than that the hard climbs were pretty quick.  All in all it was a very fun hike and I will definitely return again to explore the other trails.

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