Sweetwater Creek State Park is a popular destination with 15 miles of hiking trails, plenty of campsites and picnic areas, 10 yurt rentals, and the gorgeous ruins of a Civil War-era mill. It’s the perfect place to spend a full day at. Since we had plenty of time, Kevin and I opted for a long hike combining the park’s White Trail and Red Trail for about a 4 mile hike.
Sweetwater Creek White Trail
We started our hike with the White Trail, which is a moderate trail that takes you through the most remote parts of the park. We started in the opposite direction of the mill ruins, opting for the long stretch of the hike first so that we could take a rest admiring the mill at the end of the trip. The trail begins through wooded area, then passes through the Jack’s Hill area, a former farming community that is now open meadows; the trail then passes Jack’s Lake and follows Jack’s Branch down to the rapids of the creek.
Sweetwater Creek Red Trail
The White Trail then intersects the end of the Red Trail. This is where we veered off to follow the Red. This part got a little difficult because of the very rocky terrain. The Red Trail follows the creek all the way to the ruins of the New Manchester Mill. From the mill, the Red Trail is just a short .5 mile walk back to the visitor’s center.
New Manchester Mill Ruins
The 5-story mill began in 1895 as the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company making cotton, yarn, and fabric. The mill’s name changed to New Manchester Manufacturing Company after the center of British textile industry Manchester, England. In the summer of 1864, the mill was captured by Union troops and it was shut down and all the employees arrested. Then on orders from General Sherman, the New Manchester Mill was burnt down.
Now the ruins of the mill provide a popular gathering spot for Park visitors. The ruins were even used as part of the set for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. The area portrays part of the ruins of District 13, which was bombed and destroyed. This is where Katniss and Gale share a peaceful moment in the rare above-ground scene of District 13.
What’s your favorite hike? Let me know in the comments!