5 Georgia parks that take you to amazing places

ATLANTA — Anyone who has traveled across the state knows there are some amazing places to visit in Georgia.

Several parks in the metro area and beyond have some amazing things to see and, in many cases, give some insight into Georgia’s history.

Sweetwater Creek State Park:

Tucked away in Lithia Springs, Sweetwater Creek State Park features 15 miles of hiking trails, places for fishing and even the opportunity to spend some time in a yurt.

One of the coolest features of the park is the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company mill.

The old textile mill was burned during the Civil War. The mill had more than 100 employees at one time, and it was taller than any building in Atlanta when it first opened in 1849.

Despite its remote location, it didn’t escape Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops during the war between the States and was burned after capture on July 2, 1864, leaving a set of ruins visited by curious locals ever since.

Following the war, it was decided the company would not rebuild the facility, leaving the town of New Manchester as only a memory, along with famous ruins that visitors see today.

The mill has served as a backdrop for movies, including 2014’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” which featured Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss inside the mill.

There is a $5 parking fee.

Providence Canyon State Park:

It is hailed as the Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.” Providence Canyon State Park is about two hours southwest of Atlanta and makes for the perfect day trip to see something really extraordinary.

The canyon was formed by bad farming practices, causing the ground to erode away to the massive gullies that now make up the canyon.

The park includes more than 10 miles of hiking trails along the canyon floor and around the rim of the canyon itself; there are spectacular views of the red, white and orangish soil that make up the canyon walls.

“The rare Plumleaf Azalea grows only in this region and blooms during July and August when most azaleas have lost their color,” the park’s website said.

There is $5 parking fee.

Sope Creek Park:

Part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, Sope Creek Park features over 3 miles of hiking, biking and running trails along Sope Creek in Cobb County, as well the ruins of the old Marietta Paper Mill.

The ruins at this park are those of a long-forgotten paper mill, incorporated in 1855 and destroyed by Union troops during the Civil War.

The mill produced twine, newsprint and paper used for Confederate currency.

The Marietta Paper Mill was rebuilt after the war ended and operated until 1902, when it burned for a second time. After that the mill was left in ruins.

Sope Creek’s network of trails connect to the popular Cochran Shoals Trail on the Chattahoochee River.

There is $5 parking fee if you go to the park.

Watson Mill State Park:

Not far from Athens stands the state’s longest covered bridge still in use. The Watson Mill Bridge spans the South Fork River at 229 feet long.

The bridge is the big focal point to the state park baring its name.

“Built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King, the bridge is supported by a town lattice truss system held firmly together with tree nails. At one time, Georgia had more than 200 covered bridges; today, less than 20 remain,” the Georgia State Parks said on its website.

The park includes a picturesque waterfall that flows under the bridge, providing a popular swimming spot on hot summer days.

If you’re looking for hiking, biking and camping, Watson Mill Bridge State Park is definitely as place to add to your list. If you’re planning on visiting just for the day, there is a $5 parking fee.

You can make a reservation and check camping rates at the state’s website.

James H. Floyd State Park:

Surrounded by rural countryside and the Chattahoochee National Forest, James H. Floyd State Park features on of the state’s best kept secrets.

Named for the late Georgia state Rep. James H. “Sloppy” Floyd, the park sits in Summerville in Chattooga County.

When you enter the park, it doesn’t take long to get to a beautiful lake with access to boating and fishing.

But probably the most well known part of the park is the old abandoned marble mine. Follow the Marble Mine Trail and it takes you up to the entrance of the mine.

The spring and winter rainfall generates a small 35-foot waterfall that cascades over part of it.

The park also charges a $5 parking fee.