Sweetwater Creek State Park is the perfect place to spend a full day of hiking. For a long hike, combine Sweetwater Creek State Park’s Red Trail and White Trail for a nice, lengthy hike to mill ruins and remote areas of the park.
Are you looking for the perfect weekend hike that’s close to Atlanta? Then look no further than Sweetwater Creek State Park!
The Red Trail and White Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park are the ideal setting for weekend hike.
Here, you can enjoy a picturesque setting among the ruins of the Civil War-era New Manchester Manufacturing Company, as well as explore remote areas of the park for some peace and serenity.
In this article, I’ll tell you all about hiking the Sweetwater Creek Red and White Trails, detail the features of the trails, and share helpful tips and tricks for hikers.
About Sweetwater Creek State Park
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.
This is one of Georgia’s most visited state parks, thanks to its close location to Atlanta.
Sweetwater Creek White Trail Hike
We started our hike with the Sweetwater Creek White Trail, which is a moderate trail that takes you through the most remote parts of the state park. The full White Trail is a 5.2 mile loop, but this hike won’t take us on the full loop.
We started the trail to the west, in the opposite direction of the mill ruins, opting for the long stretch of the hike first; that way, 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. This former farming community is now open meadows and is a favorite of bird watchers. Soon, the trail passes Jack’s Lake and follows along the banks of Jack’s Branch downstream to the rapids of the park’s namesake Sweetwater Creek.
The hike winds through stream coves as it follows the ridges overlooking the creek before joining the Red Trail at about 4.2 miles.
Sweetwater Creek Red Trail Hike
Here, we veered off to follow the Sweetwater Creek Red Trail, taking the right fork. This portion of the Red Trail can be a little difficult because of the very rocky terrain.
The Red Trail follows the rapids of the creek all the way to the ruins of the New Manchester Mill. The hike reaches the mill at about 4.7 miles.
New Manchester Mill Ruins
The 5-story mill began in 1845 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 bombed and destroyed ruins of District 13. This is where Katniss and Gale share a peaceful moment in the rare above-ground scene of District 13. You can see more movie locations like this on an Atlanta film locations tour.
From the mill, the Red Trail is just a short and easy 0.5 mile walk back to the visitor’s center. The hike finishes at about 5.2 miles.
Sweetwater Creek Red & White Trail Visitor Tips
Since the Red and White Trails are inside the Sweetwater Creek State Park, there is a $5 day pass fee you have to pay to access the trails.
Nearby Hiking Trails
Looking for more hiking trails in Atlanta? Check out more of these amazing Georgia hikes:
- Sweetwater Creek State Park – Yellow and Orange Trails
- Heritage Park Trail
- Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
Ready to visit Atlanta, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Get Familiar With the City: Check out my Ultimate Guide to Atlanta to help plan your trip!
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Atlanta using Booking.com.
- Save on Attractions: Save 44% on admission to Atlanta’s top attractions using the Atlanta CityPASS.
Have you hiked the Sweetwater Creek Red Trail and White Trail? Let me know in the comments!