Trail Training: Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park is advertised as the most visited state park in GA, and it’s absolutely lovely. Well worth the trip for either hiking or running, camping or fishing. The trails are well maintained, well labeled with colored blazes, and the creek is beautiful with mill ruins and history to learn. We did an 8-ish mile run at Sweetwater this weekend. One of our goals was to scope out a possible 10K course for our Tough Treads Trail Series with our friends.

We always make a point to arrive early at Sweetwater because of the crowds, especially during pandemic times. In our experience, you can generally find a parking spot in the main lot if you arrive before 9 AM (the park opens at 7 AM), otherwise you might be stalking a parking spot or parking in one of the overflow lots. There is a $5 daily parking fee or you can get an annual pass for all of Georgia’s state parks.

The trails at Sweetwater have something for everyone. The Red trail runs along the creek to the mill ruins and has interpretive history signs. The Red trail is relatively flat and wide up to the mill and then it turns into more of a scramble over rocks and the trail narrows considerably. It’s super fun to walk along and explore, but it’s not that great to run over especially when it’s crowded.

The White trail is a 5 mile loop that has a bit of everything in terms of scenery. It has wooded and gently rolling trail portions, switchbacks into and out of canyons, more open grassland areas with wide trails, and a portion along the creek that is much narrower trail that climbs over some rock formations and heads up some stairs. It’s not an easy run, but it is certainly satisfying if you enjoy scenery.

This weekend we also did the entry part of the Yellow trail which is relatively flat after the very beginning and crosses the creek. We didn’t get a chance to check out the rest of the Yellow trail loop which looks pretty hilly, but did meander onto the Blue trail for a bit. It was pretty hilly also, but might have been good at the beginning of a long run instead of the very end.

Well worth the visit, but plan accordingly for potential crowds.

*The pictures below are from a trip to Sweetwater in June, 2020.

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