Just when you thought that it couldn’t possibly get any better, some improvements are in the works for the upcoming spring and summer busy season at Sweetwater Creek State Park.
According to Park Manager Smith McCullough, repairs on the boat dock near the bait shop area of the state park are expected to be finished by mid-March. He said that roots had begun to break up the sidewalk along the path, and once completed, it will be ADA accessible.
“We are fixing the cracks along the sidewalk to the boat ramp, which will be concreted out further, so individuals in wheelchairs can roll right up to it,” said McCullough.
In addition, the new boat dock will be able to accommodate more boats. The state park provides an extensive selection of watercraft for rent, including small pontoon boats, aqua cycles, stand up paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, jon boats and pedal boats.
“We won’t be able to operate jon boats and aqua cycles until the boat dock is complete,” the park manager said.
The addition of a colorful sign reminding watercraft enthusiasts to “Wear It, Georgia,” was posted on the bait shop side of the lake by the law enforcement division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as a reminder to wear a floatation device when out in the water.
New trail blazer signs are being placed every 20-30 feet that will make the trails more visible to hikers as they travel along portions — or all — of the state park’s 15 miles of trails.
So far, half of the red trail markers along the half-mile trail trek to the New Manchester mill site — the most widely used — have been installed. However, over 3,000 color-coded trail markers have to be installed before the project is done.
“This is very crucial for the trails on the backside,” the park manager said.
The markers will replace the colored paint on trees that previously marked the path.
“They are more visible and the color stands out, ”McCullough said. “There is a reflecting band around them, which can be seen when walking out of the trails before dark.”
He reminds visitors that the park closes each day at dark.
The markers are posted off-set on trees at 5 feet on the front side and 6 feet high on the back side of the tree to help people be found and directed out, according to McCullough.
In order to make Sweetwater Creek State Park more park-friendly for all of its visitors, the park is initiating a number of programs to better serve its Spanish-speaking population.
Earlier this month, Sweetwater Creek State Park offered its first Spanish language hike through AmeriCorps.
“We have a lot of the Hispanic population who come out to the park,” McCullough said, “and we’re trying to bridge the language gap.”
According to McCullough, Sweetwater Creek State Park is one of the most culturally diverse parks in Georgia.
In addition, new signs that explain park rules in both English and Spanish have been erected. One of those bi-lingual signs can be found over near the children’s playground and fitness zone located in the road that loops around picnic areas.
“We want the park to be welcoming and friendly for everyone,” the park manager said.
Sweetwater Creek State Park is one of 40 cleanup sites participating in “Sweep the Hootch,” sponsored by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper on Saturday, April 7 from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. The cleanup will take place froom throughout 100 river and tributary miles – from the headwaters above Lake Lanier, through the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Atlanta, and down to West Point Lake.
Back for the eighth year, Sweep the Hooch is an annual day of service to the Chattahoochee River watershed mobilizing volunteers on foot, in waders, or kayak/canoe paddlers to remove trash at locations throughout the watershed.
To volunteer, contact Sweetwater Creek State Park at 770-732-5871.
Urban American Outdoors TV (UAOTV) will host the Third Annual Urban Kids Fishing Derby Atlanta. The free Saturday fishing excursion will be held on April 7, 2018 at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m.
McCullough said they are expecting over 300 people to participate in this first-time fishing event. He said fishing poles will be provided and the lake will be stocked with 1,000 catfish for the event.
A new feature this year will be having food trucks at the state park during the event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the bait shop parking lot.
“This is the first time we’ve had food trucks at the park,” McCullough said. “We got the idea for having food trucks from Skidaway Island State Park.”
Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, will be hosting his 17th Annual Family Fun Day at Sweetwater Creek State Park on Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said that over the years they have had thousands of kids and their families to join them on this fun-filled day of food, fun, games, fellowship and fishing.
“As with every year we will stock the lake with over 2,000 catfish to ensure each child lands a catch. So bring your friends and family and join me,” Bruce said.
Last year over 2,500 people participated in the Family Fun Day at Sweetwater Creek State Park, he said.