Located just minutes from downtown Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs is the perfect place to get out in nature and leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind. Here you’ll find camping, yurts, hiking, fishing, seasonal boat rentals, and the ruins of a textile mill that was burned during the Civil War.
Whether you’re looking for history or just want to get away from it all — Sweetwater Creek State Park is the place for it. And their awesome yurts are a great place to stay for a few days, so you have plenty of time to explore this awesome park.
Ready to learn more about one of the most popular state parks in Georgia? Here’s everything you need to know about Sweetwater Creek State Park — including information about their popular Yurt Village.
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 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! Here are some answers to some of the most popular yurt-related questions.
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, it is a full sized bed).
Georgia State Park yurts, including those at Sweetwater Creek’s Yurt Village, sleep a max of six people: up to two people on each futon and two on the top bed-bunk.
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.
CAN I SLEEP IN A YURT IN THE 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. Don’t forget your pillows!
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 don’t already have an annual pass).
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 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 it’s 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 Yurt Village. We visited during the week and my boys still played with four other kids on the playground well into the night.
Want to make sure you avoid kids? Opt for a yurt farther down the row, like yurts 8-10.
The 215-acre George Sparks Reservoir is popular for fishing and provides a pretty setting for feeding ducks and picnicking.
Sweetwater Creek State Park also offers fishing, seasonal SUP (stand up paddleboards) and kayak rentals, hiking, ranger events, and Civil War mill history tours. 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 that’s within the Yurt Village.
Service animals are the exception to this rule.
HOW CLOSE IS LAKE ACCESS? IS THERE A PLACE TO DOCK A BOAT AND PARK A TRAILER?
The lake allows for 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’ll also find fishing supplies here.
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 $100 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, so a sleeping bag pad or cot is ideal.
There are no parking sites for campers or trailers. Pets are welcome at the tent campsites.
Read More: GEORGIA STATE PARKS CAMPING: 52+ ESSENTIAL THINGS TO KNOW
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 Glamping: Georgia’s 18+ Most Unique Places to Escape to find other yurts and unique sleeping experiences across the state.
Read More: HIGH FALLS STATE PARK: WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT YURTS AND WATERFALLS?
HIKING AT SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK
Sweetwater Creek State Park is only 20 minutes west of downtown Atlanta, but once you’re there, it feels worlds away.
A great place to begin your visit is at The Visitor Center. The Visitor Center here features exhibits on the area’s history, wildlife displays, trail maps, snacks and a gift shop.
While there, we learned the 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 were done learning about the wildlife, we headed out for our hike. There are three hiking trails of varying difficulty at Sweetwater Creek. (Trail Map Here.) The Red Trail is the History Trail, and it runs parallel to the creek.
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. The wooded trail follows the stream to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill burned during the Civil War. The mill workers were captured by the Union soldiers, and transported north for the remainder of the war. Many never returned.
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 2-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 from the Hunger Games movies.
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.
Beyond the mill, the trail climbs rocky bluffs to provide views of the beautiful rapids below.
The Red Trail provided a beautiful and easy hike along the creek. The remains of the mill are fenced off for safety reasons, but you can see it well from above. (Access to the interior of the mill ruins is available during guided hikes.)
MORE HIKING TRAILS AT SWEETWATER CREEK
Want to hike even more? Try the White Trail. It intersects with the Red Trail at the overlook of the New Manchester mill ruins at the one mile mark. It’s a 5.2-mile loop that was designed specifically to show off the park’s wildlife and vegetation.
The Yellow Trail is a 3-mile loop that takes you across the bridge to the other side of the creek. As the trail takes you down a ravine, look for a large rock outcropping. Archaeologists estimate that Native Americans used it as shelter for several thousand years. How cool is that?!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- FRIENDS OF GSP: 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Friends Of Georgia State Parks
- WATERFALLS: 9+ Georgia State Parks With Waterfalls Begging You To Visit
- PANOLA MOUNTAIN: 5 Amazing Reasons To Visit Panola Mountain State Park (+10 More Nearby Adventures)
- RED TOP MOUNTAIN STATE PARK: 13+ Best Ideas For An Awesome Lakeside Getaway
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