Hiking Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park allows visitors to hike back in history and enjoy the scenery that became District 13 in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Hikers will begin their journey at the park visitor center, picking up the Red Trail and heading down to Sweetwater Creek. A short section of the trail is downhill with a few switchbacks before reaching the waterfront.
The hike along Sweetwater Creek is relatively easy with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of the whitewater rapid section of the creek. You will not have to wait long for views of the New Manchester Mill Ruins to appear.
The structure was built using slave labor and saw use by the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company and New Manchester Manufacturing Company between 1849 and 1864, with a large water wheel providing power to all machinery in the building. What is left of the structure saw new life when the mill ruins became the perfect setting for a district left in ruins following the civil war that led to the dystopian society featured in The Hunger Games.
Hikers have several options for the return trip after their visit to the ruins:
1) Take a right and head north on the White Trail back up to the visitor center for your shortest loop option.
2) Continue to follow the water on a more difficult section of the Red Trail for even more scenic views before the trail comes to an end. You can head back to the visitor center on the Red Trail or catch the White Trail from here.
3) Heading back toward the north on the White Trail will take you back by the ruins with your “medium” loop choice. Continuing south on the White Trail will give you your longest loop option with added difficulty. The trail has some rocky sections along the waterfront along with elevation change that might be tough for beginning hikers.
Words of Wisdom
1) Remember Leave No Trace principles here. Pack out what you pack in, and, if you are interested in doing your good deed for the day, take a trash bag and do your part to help fight the litter issue along the creek.
2) Take snacks and plenty of water if you are planning on doing one of the longer options. Water becomes even more important if you are visiting between April and September when Georgia becomes a hot and humid mess.
3) Take your first aid kit. The rocky terrain that dots portions of this hike could lead to slips and trips. Being prepared is the way to go.
4) Pay attention! Venomous snakes call the park home, including at least two species of rattlesnakes. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid putting your hands or feet in areas with limited or no visibility. Take caution and give snakes plenty of space if you come upon one.
Hit the Trail
You know your options and what you need to do to prepare for the hike. What are you waiting for?!? Hit the trail(s)!