Last Sunday I decided to go on a dayhike to nearby Sweetwater State Park. After mentioning it to my sister, we decided that my mother might enjoy it as well so I invited her along. After a short drive west of Atlanta (and one or two wrong turns) we arrived at the park on an absolutely lovely day… sunny, dry light breeze and a high of 60 degrees.
A few other folks were on the trails as well but mostly the upper, shorter Yellow and Blue blaze sections. With that in mind we decided to make our way through those areas quickly and focus on the Red and White blaze sections.
I was initially concerned that my mother, who is a treadmill fanatic, might have trouble with the rockier portions of the Red blaze (mostly riverfront bedrock outcroppings and shore hugging trails), but with her well-worn walking stick in hand she quickly dismissed any doubts I had. In fact, we had a talk about an ex-boyfriend from her youth back in northern Italy that used to take her up into the mountains. From there we talked about the walking techniques the mountain people use and how they manage those heavy loads; like the photos you see of sixty year old women carrying huge loads of firewood. Suffice it to say, I think she’ll be just fine dayhiking.
I was very pleased with the Red blaze section of Sweetwater Park. Much less traffic and several beautiful scenes of the riverfront which I only wish I could have captured better in pictures. Combined with the constant roar of the rapids and gentle misty spray it made for a very soothing hike. Occasionally, the Blue blaze trail meets the red but mostly it stays in the forested area to the west of the river, providing gentler access to the riverfront. The tradeoff is that it is far less scenic in my humble opinion. Both, however, will afford hikers a view of the Factory Ruins and the Sweeter Falls overlook.
Just south of the Sweetwater Falls, the Red and Blue blaze trails meet again along with the White blaze, which completes the outer loop of the Sweetwater trails. The White blaze arcs through the wooded interior of the park and is mostly a well-kept and broad trail. At its southern most point, it takes hikers past Jack’s Hill Lake (actually a pond) which is home to some Canadian geese and a beaver family whose handiwork is readily visible from the trail. Turning northward, the White blaze passes through what appears to be the remains of farmsteads and the “Jack Hill Meadows” area. The White blaze trail terminates at the northern junction of the Blue, Red and Yellow blaze trails within sight of the parking area.
The Yellow blaze trail exists as an independent loop from the other trails and circles the old Ferguson’s Crossing area which hosted water powered mills and a brick making industry since the 1840s. In the pre-Colonial era, it served as a settlement and shelter to Native Americans as long as 2000 years ago.Sweetwater State Park Photographs