52 Hike Challnge: #1 Sweetwater – Red Trail


Date: July 3, 2016

Time: 9:00-11:10

Location: 1750 Mt. Vernon Road, Lithia Springs Georgia,30122, USA


Duration:2 Hours

Distance:  </>2miles – Red trail one way, connected to white and looped back to red trail at Mill Ruins.

Elevation: 950 ft at trail head, drop to 0ft after stairway down to river after the mill, gain back 875 ft at trail tail.

Children: first 1/4 -1/2 mile yes, after the mill I would not recommend taking young children or infants (we took our 12 month old in our ergo, very difficult and dangerous terrain after the stairway down to the river.)

Difficulty: first 1/2 mile is fairly easy trekking along the historical piece (1), but at 1/2 mile, it increases dramatically to about a 7-8 difficulty.

Terrain: Compacted soil, some gravel on first 1/4 mile, large rocks, tree roots, and close proximity to river with narrow trail, 2 ft wide/ 1 person.

Pack: two backpacks, two water bottles each, pack 1: snacks, water, portable charger. Pack 2: light blanket, diapers, wipes, water bottles, change of clothes for baby, pocket first aid kit, small roll of TP. WIGHT: 3-5LB each. Baby in ergo: 23lb

Gear: Timberland hiking boots, cargo shorts, tank top and explore more tshirt.Ergo Marine.

Objective: Check out new hiking area, and park, light hike with break at water to play and explore, have lunch, finish hike.


As a first hike, this was challenge. I had aske our local BiH group what trail would be best if we wanted to spend some time by the water, but there was some miss communication in suggesting the red trail. Yes, the red trail has water access for swimmers or shore water play up until the base of the stairwell beside the Mill Ruins, but after that small plateau, the terrain is very intense. The red trail, although the shortest trail at sweetwater, is NOT for the light hearted.

Luckily I wore propper footwear because I was wearing our 12 month old, fussy toddler. Who by the way, didn’t want to nap, in the carrier, which is very unusual. We also had set out a bit late, so it was already getting pretty warm by the time we set out on the trail. When usually we try to get back by 9:30/10 am if we do morning hikes. But, like I said, after the stairwell, the terrain is very difficult to do if you have an infant, or young children; I also wouldn’t really recommend it for leisure or beginners. We kept looking for a place to take a break but the terrain, and path, did not allow for much stopping, as there is no flat areas and it’s a lot of eroded roots and sharp rocks.

We took a short break once we connected to the white trail, as the baby was fussing and needed a break, and I was starting to overheat slightly, due to the intense climb, added weight and body heat. Hub also started to have a bit of an anxiety attack until we ran into a ranger doing some rounds who was able to give us a better idea of how much farther we had to walk. Which was a good mile more to connect back to the Red trail at the Mill Ruins. There was lots of tree cover which helped with the heat, but the humidity was high. We had planned to hang out by the water, and have lunch, but hubby felt he needed to just go home,so we stopped by the info center briefly and then headed back home.

I told him if #1/52 was the toughest trail we do, then the worst is over. Lol. On the way home, we talked about how there is a learning curve, which includes mental preparation in addition to physical preparation. We also really need to invest in a larger pack, so that one of us can carry the pack, and the other can carry the baby. Something else that would be needed for trails like this, is a hammock and tree straps; since there isn’t any spots for resting due to the terrain and elevation. He kept saying over and over how I’m going to kill him, and that I am very strong minded. I received praise from everyone we passed on the Red trail, and fittingly so.


Would I do this again? yes, and no.

Yes, I would hike red trail if I were alone, or without a child. I would also just do the first 1/4-1/2 mile and spend more time in the first section of Rapids where the water is shallow and fairly calm.

No, I would not do the full trail again the way I did it this time. We got to the point of no return with the baby, and that could have potentially been dangerous, if I had not been wearing the correct footwear, or if I were less experienced.

I would go back and hike perhaps yellow, or orange, on the other side of the river. They also have multiple spots in the park for paddle boarding, so once I get my board, that is another option as well. In addition, they do have rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Paddles boards and more which average at $20/2 hours, which is a GREAT deal. (Sweetwater does offer yurt camping ($85/night) and day picnicking areas)

The best part of the whole experience was doing our victory yell at the end!


One down, 51 to go.




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