Whether you are spending the day hiking the Red History Trail or staying the night in one of the new Sweetwater Creek State Park Yurts, we’ve got everything you need to know to maximize your experience!
👉 Grab the Georgia Kids Series 52 Hike Challenge Hiking Log here!
Sweetwater Creek State Park Yurts
What does a yurt look like inside? Can I bring my dog to the yurts? What about bathrooms? We know there are tons of questions about the new yurts at Sweetwater Creek State Park– Atlanta’s closest state park – and that’s why we put together this Q&A after our stay there! Did we miss one of your questions? Hit us up in the comments and we’ll gladly answer!
What does a yurt look like inside?
The yurts at Sweetwater Creek are almost identical to the yurts at other Georgia State Parks- just newer! You’ll find two futon sofa/beds, one with a bunk bed on top offering additional sleep space. The bed on the top bunk is a true mattress (based on our sheet-size, I believe it is a full sized bed.)
There are a few tables for holding your things, and a café table for dining, with four stools. We also found a tall lamp, a few outlets and a heater. On the porch you’ll enjoy two comfy Adirondack chairs for sipping your coffee. We’ve got photos for you below.
How many people can sleep in a yurt?
Georgia State Park yurts, including those at Sweetwater Creek’s Yurt Village, sleep a max of six people: up to two people in each futon and two on the top bed-bunk.
Can I sleep in a yurt in winter?
YES! The yurts at Sweetwater Creek (and other Georgia State Parks) include a heater, creating a warm and toasty environment for sleeping.
In summer, the screen doors, screen window and a roof hole can all be opened in conjunction with running the ceiling fan to create a comfortably conditioned room.
What do I need to bring for yurt camping?
For the most part, you are going to bring everything you would for a tent-camping trip….except the tent. For sleeping, you can bring a set of sheets for the futon or mattress, or bring sleeping bags to lay on top of the beds. We prefer bringing sheets since they are more lightweight.
Here is a great family camping checklist from REI. Skip the first four items on the list, then pick from the remaining bullets to suit your family’s needs.
What about a campfire?
YES! You’ll want to build a fire- it’s still camping, right!?? As at all parks, you must purchase firewood from the park. They will give you a receipt which you then take to the host family within the Yurt Village. The host will make sure you get the wood you purchased, and they have access to more wood should you need it.
Each yurt comes with a firepit with a grill, a picnic table, lantern post, a charcoal grill and a water pump (water comes from the city so it is drinkable!) Cooking the best s’more ever…that’s up to you!
What security measures are established?
You will check in at the Visitor’s Center at Sweetwater Creek, pay for your yurt and get your gate codes and park passes (if you are not already a member.) Once you drive to the Yurt Village area, about a half-mile from the main entrance, you will enter a gate code to gain access to the yurts and campgrounds. The host family is situated near the entrance and also keep an eye on who is coming and going, as they know everyone with reservations.
Additionally, each yurt has a keypad locking mechanism. I loved this because we didn’t have to worry about managing an extra set of keys while we explored the park.
What about the restrooms and showers?
There are no bathrooms inside the yurts at Sweetwater Creek (or any Georgia State Park,) but the new and clean bathroom facility is right within the yurt village. Yurts 4, 5 and 6 will offer the closest access to the restroom facility, with yurt 6 being directly across the street from the bathroom. The farthest walk is from yurt 10, but is still relatively close.
The facility offers male and female restooms with a sink and shower. There is a light inside the restroom making it easy to manage at night.
What else can I do while I’m there?
For visiting families, there is a large unique playground structure in front of yurt 4 within the village. We visited during the week and my boys still played with four other kids on the playground well into dark. Want to make sure you avoid kids? Opt for a yurt farther down the row, like yurts 8-10.
Sweetwater Creek State Park also offers fishing, SUP and kayak rental, hiking, ranger events, and Civil War mill history. We really enjoy the hike along the Red History Trail leading to the mill ruins. It’s along the water, only 1 mile and mostly flat.
Can I bring my pets?
Unfortunately, no. Pets are not allowed in any Georgia State Park yurts, including Sweetwater Creek. They are allowed in the new camping area.
How close is lake access? Is there a place to dock a boat and park a trailer?
The lake allows for is electric motors only; a boat ramp is located near the bait shop – you’ll have to drive to a different area from yurts. It’s here at the bait shop that you’ll want to park your boat trailer. You can enter the lake from the yurt village; there is a dock, but no boat ramp. A boat would need to be small enough to go through a large culvert pipe under the highway. The park rangers told us their Jon boat fits through that area, as well as kayaks and canoes. We recommend doing this, though- if you can, as the yurts face a part of the lake that most visitors don’t see so there is more privacy.
How much are the yurts at Sweetwater Creek?
Yurt prices are subject to change, so please always check the website first. As of right now, they begin at $85 per night. Visit the Ga State Park website for yurt reservations.
What about tent camping at Sweetwater Creek?
Five new tent campsites are available within the Yurt Village at Sweetwater Creek. They all have a fire ring, grill, table, lantern post, electricity, and running water. The ground is crushed gravel, a sleeping bag pad or cot is ideal. There are no parking sites for campers or trailers. Pets are welcome at the tent campsites.
Is Sweetwater Creek the only yurt-camping state park?
You can also stay in a yurt at High Falls State Park, Red Top Mountain, Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon and Tugaloo State Parks. Don’t miss our post on Where to camp in a yurt in Georgia if you are looking for other yurt experiences around the state.
Hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park is only minutes west of downtown Atlanta, but once you are there, it feels worlds away.
We started our adventure by securing the Interpretive Center with our light sabers. (My youngest was pretending we were on Endor and looking for Ewoks around each corner.) While there we learned the Interpretive Center is one of the most environmentally responsible buildings in the state park system. The building has achieved LEED platinum certification from the US Green Building Council. This is the highest possible rating given for buildings and quite an accomplishment. We also learned about the wildlife around the park and got a history lesson on the early textile industry in Georgia.
The Red Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Once we drove out the Imperial forces, we headed out for our hike. There are four hiking trails of varying difficulty at Sweetwater Creek. The red trail is the history trail and runs parallel to the creek.
On this hike you pass the remains of New Manchester Mill, a thriving textile mill in the mid-nineteenth century. The mill and the town surrounding it were destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War. The mill workers were captured and transported north for the remainder of the war. Many never returned.
The Interpretive Center has a well done display on the importance of cotton, the textile industry and daily life in a mill town. In addition, you can hear first-hand accounts of the capture of New Manchester Mill during the Civil War by the actual residents.
The red trail provided a beautiful and easy hike along the creek. The boys were disappointed that the Mill remains were fenced off. They had a blast running around the Sope Creek Mill remains and were expecting to do the same thing here. The disappointment didn’t last long as we moved farther down the river and discovered we could walk IN the river along the rocks.
The older boys channeled Lewis and Clark and blazed a trail that at times was a little hard to follow. We finally pulled them back and zig-zagged our way to the river bank, without getting wet feet, and continued the hike. The trail got much steeper, but it still was a nice walk.
The Waterfall at Sweetwater Creek State Park
We heard there was a waterfall a little farther down the red line trail, but the youngest was tuckered out, even taking a little nap on the rocks, so we grabbed Lewis and Clark and headed back. It was a great family adventure and even the oldest two, who are normally at each other constantly, were working together and even posed arm-in-arm for a picture.
The power of the outdoors.
Lesli also hiked the Red History Trail – here’s what she had to say:
Sweetwater Creek State Park is Georgia’s most popular park for daytime hiking and events, and Eric at Atlanta Trails named Sweetwater Creek one of his Top 10 favorite places to hike, so we decided to check it out.
We settled on the Red Trail because I was anxious to see the ruins of New Manchester Mill, which mark the 1/2 mile point on this trail. We spent better than an hour making it to that point, as there are numerous opportunities to play in the water, skip rocks, and draw pictures in the sand. The terrain on this first part of the trail is fairly flat, and even the two-year old could walk the entire journey.
Large metamorphic rock in the creek and shallow creek edges made it an ideal place to climb, jump and splash. We stopped at the mill, enjoying the history- and noting it’s modern day fame in the Hunger Games flick. Research indicates that the trail gets more difficult as you continue, so we elected to turn back at this point. Don’t skip a stop at the Visitor Center before leaving; my kiddos love the animals on display.
Disclosure: Thank you to Georgia State Parks for hosting my family and me in the yurt to facilitate this review. Opinions here are all my own.