The most beautiful and predictably, the most tourist-heavy of the local parks, SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK
is still best experienced by leaving aside the official trails and activities. With nine miles of hiking, it isn't hard to set your own path. For the athletic, the creek especially post-rainfall makes for an excellent kayaking run. For a more peaceful Sweetwater experience, there's usually ducks to feed along the reservoir, not to mention multiple docks for fishing. And while not technically a part of nature, the New Manchester Manufacturing Co., a textile mill burned during the Civil War, connects the site to the area's conflicted history and provides an imposing spot to take photos, have a picnic, or use as a landmark during treks. 1750 Mt. Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/info/sweetwater.