While the city of Atlanta is a bustling capital city full of so many fun activities and places to visit, there are also so many incredible places located only a hop and skip right outside of the city. I love the city but I also really love avoiding the infamous horrible traffic as much as possible. What better way than getting to truly see some of Georgia’s gorgeous natural resources? Located a quick 10-20 minutes (depending on the traffic) outside of downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park is a vast 2000+ acres full of glorious trails, a huge lake, a beautiful running river, and an old Civil War-era mill ruins. Here are my recommendations for a weekend getaway at Sweetwater Creek State Park!
Getting into Sweetwater Creek State Park
1750 Mount Vernon Road
Lithia Springs, GA 30122
GPS Coordinates: N 33.753783 | W -084.639000
Park Hours: daily 7:00am-Dark
First things first, entrance to the park is a cool $5.00. Imagine trading in your Starbucks order for the day and instead using that money for a day full of activities? Count me in! Even better, for the cost of $50, you can purchase an annual Georgia State Park Pass and get 12 months access to ALL of the state parks throughout Georgia. There are a lot of good ones like Amicalola Falls State Park that has the state’s tallest waterfall?? Plus you are contributing to a fund that restores park trails, docks, and other useful state park needs!
Helpful tip: Annual Georgia State Park Pass discounts of 50% are available for seniors 62 and older, and 25% for active military and veterans. Discounted passes must be purchased in person.
What do to at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Not only does the place shine especially on a gorgeous fall day, but there are also so many activities available to do such as fishing the 200+ acre lake, hiking the 15 miles of trails, geocaching, and even renting a Yurt for the night! It may be helpful to check out any events around the time of visit. They have so many amazing opportunities for guided hikes, group kayak paddles, and even introductory courses for archery or fly-fishing!
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If hiking is your go-to activity like it was mine for this trip, I recommend you bring a bottle of water, a camera, and a picnic to truly make your day magical walking the trails! If you have a furry 4-legged friend, feel free to bring them along for the visit as long as he is leashed! I am a novice when it comes to hiking and I like to go super slow for stability sake, and I found this to be so easy and so fun! I walked the Red Trail, rated easy to difficult, for 3 hours and just as many miles soaking up the sights and sounds of the river. There were so many little rocks or benches that you could sit on and just listen to the rushing water. Be sure to visit the visitor’s center before you head out to grab a map, check out their informative exhibits about the history, type of wildlife, and flora in the area. You can also purchase some snacks, books on the area, and souvenirs in their gift shop.
If you are a YA book and movie junkie like me, you need to take the Red Trail along the river and check out the mill ruins! Sweetwater Creek State Park has now become synonymous with it being one of the locations for the filming of one of the final Hunger Games movies, Mockingjay. I am a huge fan of Georgia becoming evermore popular filming hot-spot for so many blockbuster movies and popular television shows. I think the diversity that Georgia offers in locations is just one of the perks of this new expansion (and kind Southern folk and good ol’ food to name a few more)! Unfortunately, you cannot get into the ruins without access with a guide. I missed the notice on the official website!
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» Mill Ruins Notice:
To protect the historic mill ruins and maintain safety, access to the interior is closed to all visitors except those on guided hikes (public and private), school field trips and for special events. Hikes to the exterior of the mill ruins are still available on your own and encouraged.
The Red Trail is very easy and very popular due to the ruins and the river. If you are more into isolated, quiet walks with nature, check out one of the other two trails.
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If hiking is not your thing, they do have seasonal kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals available which I hear is just lovely during sunset on the lake. I would love to go back in summer for a canoe ride!
They also have tent campsites available for rent or you can even stay the night in a Yurt! It is very rustic, but has electricity, with a clear plastic skylight for perfect stargazing at night. It sleeps up to 6 people and even has a fantastic deck situation for some late night relaxing around a fire ring.
No matter if you are a hiking enthusiast or you are like me and you get spurts of energy to do spontaneous physical activity, consider a weekend getaway at Sweetwater Creek State Park! There is so much variety of activities and fun to be had by all!
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