Lakes & Rivers

in North Georgia

Lakes

Rivers

Carters Lake

fall boating on carters lake

Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the water at Carters Lake in Gilmer County, Georgia.

Carters Lake spans 3,200 acres and is located between Ellijay and Chatsworth, Georgia. Accessible year-round, the lake provides a variety of recreational opportunities, including camping, fishing, picnicking, boating, hiking and bird watching. The lake has no private docks or development along 62 miles of natural shoreline. Fish species include bass, crappie, walleye, bream and catfish.

Carters Dam is the tallest earthen dam east of Mississippi River. The lake is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

US Army Corps of Engineers

Carters Lake Project Office
975 Powerhouse Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-334-2248

Carters Lake Marina & Resort

575 Marina Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-276-4891
carterslake.com

Damsite Day Use Area

359 Cove Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-334-2248
recreation.gov

Doll Mountain Day Use Area & Campground

575 Carters Landing Way
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-334-2248
recreation.gov

Northbank Day Use Area

2800 Carters Dam Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-334-2248
recreation.gov

Rereg Dam Day Use Area

10493 Old Highway 41
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-334-2248
recreation.gov

Woodring Day Use Area

5600 Woodring Branch Road
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-334-2248
recreation.gov

DIRECTIONS to Damsite Day Use Area: Head south from Ellijay on Highway 515. Turn right onto Coosawatte Drive, then left onto Progress Road. Turn left onto Old Highway 5 and then right onto GA 382 West. Go 10 miles and turn right onto GA Highway 136 West. After 3.2 miles, turn right onto Carters Dam Road, then right onto Marina Road; and left onto Cove Road.

Cartecay River

Cartecay River in Ellijay, GA

Much of the Cartecay River in Ellijay, Georgia, runs along GA 52. While mostly calm, there are some challenging Class I and II rapids.

The Cartecay River is one of the most popular canoeing and kayaking rivers in North Georgia. You’ll find long stretches of calm water for a leisurely paddle, plus drop-and-pool rapids for a more challenging experience. From the Holt Bridge put-in, the first 3 miles are mostly calm. The next 7 miles, however, give way to Class I & II whitewater rapids with names like Rock Garden, Surfing Rapid, Whirlpool and Blackberry Falls. There are several access points along the river, including on Lower Cartecay Road and Mulkey Road. The DNR take out is the natural end of the paddling experience.

The Cartecay generally runs from the southeast corner of Gilmer county northwestward, where it meets up with the Ellijay River to form the Coosawattee River.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Rich Mountain: Cartecay Tract
4910 Rock Creek Road
Cherrylog, GA 30522
706-295-6041

Cartecay River Experience

1554 Lower Cartecay
Ellijay, GA 30536
706-531-4746
cartecayriverexperience.com

Ellijay River Outfitters

88 Holt Bridge Road
Ellijay, GA 30536
706-889-8697
tubeellijay.com

DIRECTIONS to DNR Access/Take-Out: From Hwy. 515, head east from Ellijay on GA 52 about 3 miles. Turn right onto Canoe Launch Road, just past the Gilmer County Detention Center, and follow the signs.

Lake Blue Ridge

Aerial view of Lake Blue Ridge

A birds-eye view of Lake Blue Ridge in Fannin County, Georgia, showcases the expanse of water and mountains.

The deep blue waters of Lake Blue Ridge make it one of North Georgia’s most beautiful mountain lakes. Fishing, camping, picnicking, hiking and boating are all available on and around this scenic TVA reservoir, which was formed when construction of the Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River was completed in 1930. Today, the lake spans 3,300 acres with a “full summer pool” at roughly 1,686 feet above sea level. It is 11 miles long with 65 miles of shoreline — 80% of which is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The lake is a popular spot for bass and crappie fishing, while trout can be found in the Toccoa River.

The lake is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which releases water from Blue Ridge Dam to generate electricity. The dam also helps reduce flood damage downstream.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

400 West Summit Hill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37902
865-632-2101

Toccoa River & Lake Blue Ridge Map

Capt’n Joe’s Lake Adventures

PO Box 561
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-632-2165
captnjoeslakeadventures.com

Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area & Boat Ramp

Dry Branch Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-745-6928
fs.usda.gov

Lake Blue Ridge Marina

335 Marina Drive
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-632-2618
lakeblueridgemarina.com

Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters

26 Bypass Road
Morganton, GA 30560
706-900-4004
lakeblueridgeoutfitters.com

Lakewood Landing Boat Launch
Latitude:  34.882181
Longitude:  -84.266612

706-745-6928
fs.usda.gov

Morganton Point Recreation Area & Campground

475 Lake Drive
Morganton, GA 30560
706-374-1645
cfaia.org website

Wing-N-It Seaplane Adventures

1660 Palmour Drive
Gainesville, GA 30501
678-971-9922
wingnitadventures.com

Young Harris Watersports

3676 Highway 76 West
Young Harris, GA 30582
706-896-0834
yhwatersports.com

DIRECTIONS: From the intersection of McDonald’s and Hwy. 5 in Blue Ridge, follow Hwy. 515 east approximately .7 miles to Windy Ridge Road and turn right. Turn left at the stop sign onto Old Hwy. 76 and go 1.7 miles to the dam.

Ellijay River

Ellijay River in Gilmer County, GA

The Ellijay River meanders 15 miles before it joins the Cartecay River to form the Coosawattee River.

The Ellijay River meanders 15 miles southward through the Rich Mountain area and Chattahoochee National Forest. When it enters the town of Ellijay, it joins the Cartecay River to form the Coosawattee River. There’s a small reservoir dam at the Kells Creek confluence.

 

US Forest Service: Conasauga Ranger District

3941 Highway 76
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-695-6736

Ellijay River Vineyards

111 River Birch Lane
Ellijay, GA 30540
770-315-9121
ellijayrivervineyards.com

Harrison Park

0.5 mile from the roundabout on McCutchen Street
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-276-7700
gilmerrecreation.com

Lake Nottely

Georgia Mountain Parkway - Aerial view of Lake Nottely in Blairsville, Georgia

Even an aerial view of Lake Nottely in Blairsville, Georgia, doesn’t give you the whole picture.

Lake Nottely (also called Nottely Reservoir) is one of many reservoirs of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Located entirely within Union County, the lake was formed in 1942 by the damming of the Nottely River. Today, Lake Nottely extends 20 miles (30 km) upstream to the town of Blairsville.

With 106 miles of shoreline, 4,180-acre Lake Nottely provides opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking and camping. Public access is via two marinas and several public boat ramps. Also, Poteete Creek Park & Campground is a 95-acre facility located on the shores of Lake Nottely. Campers and day visitors alike can enjoy fishing, picnicking and swimming at the sandy beach area. Alternately, visitors to nearby Meeks Park can paddle kayaks and canoes via the Nottely River and into the lake.

For landlubbers, there’s Nottely Reservoir Trail, an easy 1.7-mile trail on the banks of Lake Nottely that’s perfect for hiking and biking. The trail can be accessed from two parking lots about ½ mile from Nottely Dam.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

400 West Summit Hill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37902
865-632-2101

North Georgia WaterSports

2132 Murphy Highway
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-835-1222
northgeorgiawatersports.com

Nottely Marina

86 Doucette Circle
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-3638
nottelymarinainc.com

Nottely Boat Club & Marina

6036 State Highway 325
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-897-9499
coolestplaceingeorgia.com

Wing-N-It Seaplane Adventures

1660 Palmour Drive
Gainesville, GA 30501
678-971-9922
wingnitadventures.com

Young Harris Watersports

3676 Highway 76 West
Young Harris, GA 30582
706-896-0834
yhwatersports.com

DIRECTIONS: Nottely Dam is located about 2 miles west of US 11/129 via GA 325 (Nottely Dam Road) in Blairsville. Poteete Creek Campground is another 2½ miles down 325.

Coosawattee River

Coosawattee River Tubing

Relieve the stress of everyday life on a gentle float down the beautiful Coosawattee River.

In the heart of Ellijay, the Ellijay and Cartecay rivers merge to become the Coosawattee River. The river runs roughly 13 miles of light Class I & II rapids before dumping into Carter’s Lake. There are no public access points along this stretch other than the put-in at River Park. Below the lake, the Coosawattee continues for a longer and calmer stretch before it reaches Calhoun.

River Park on the Coosawattee features a 0.75-mile paved walking trail, picnic areas, several pavilions, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, exercise stations, swimming pool and a small playground. It is also home to the Veterans Memorial Bridge & Garden.

Fun fact: The Coosawattee River inspired James Dickey’s 1970 novel, “Deliverance.” Prior to the building of the Carter’s Lake Dam, the river featured extensive whitewater sections of Class III & IV rapids.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Coosawattee WMA
750 Powerhouse Road
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706-295-6041

Coosawattee River Tubing Company

25 Eagle Mountain Drive
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-635-1609
coosawattee.net

Gilmer County River Park

1561 South Main Street
Ellijay, GA 30540
706-276-7700
gilmerrecreation.com

Lake Trahlyta

Lake Trahylta in Vogel State Park

Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Georgia, is a popular spot for visitors looking to cool off in the lake on hot summer days.

L ake Trahlyta lies within the borders of Vogel State Park, 11 miles south of Blairsville in Union County, Georgia. The 22-acre lake is open to non-motorized boats and, during the summer, swimmers can enjoy the lakeside beach. In 1933, the CCC developed the park and built a small dam on Wolf Creek, which created Lake Trahlyta. Beyond the dam, the river continues north, dropping 110 feet at beautiful Trahlyta Falls. (The river also runs through nearby Reece Heritage Farm.)

  • $5 per vehicle parking fee
  • Fishing for trout, bass and perch
  • Swimming beach & boat rentals
  • Picnic areas & shelters
  • Mini golf course & playground
  • 17 miles of hiking trails, including an easy lake loop trail
  • CCC Museum and general store
  • Campsites, rental cabins & event facilities
  • Open year-round
Vogel State Park

405 Vogel State Park Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-2628

Vogel State Park

405 Vogel State Park Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-2628
gastateparks.org/Vogel

DIRECTIONS: From Blairsville, take Hwy. 19/129 south about 9.5 miles. Turn right onto Vogel State Park Road.

Toccoa River

Kayakers on Toccoa River

Kayakers paddle the Toccoa River in Fannin County, Georgia. It runs north into Tennessee, where it becomes the famous Ocoee River.

The Toccoa River begins life in Union County, Georgia. But most of the river flows from the southeastern corner of Fannin County northwest into Tennessee (where it becomes the Ocoee River). The Toccoa River Canoe Trail put-in is located at the Deep Hole Recreation Area near Suches, while the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Take-Out lies 13.8 miles downriver. Beyond the trail, paddlers can continue to follow the river a few more miles to Lake Blue Ridge. The Toccoa can also be navigated downstream after the Blue Ridge Dam all the way to the GA/TN state line.

The Canoe Trail is great for kayers and canoeists looking for a few rapids and some beautiful scenery. Tubers can relax on a hot summer day and let the river take them downstream. And fly fishermen float and wade the river in search of elusive rainbow trout.

Toccoa River Canoe Trail sections

Deep Hole to Rock Creek Road Bridge: 1.5 miles with good fishing
Rock Creek Road Bridge to Margret: 1.0 miles
Margret to Butt Bridge: 5.8 miles with rapids, campsites and a suspension bridge
Butt Bridge to Dial Bridge: 1.5 miles
Dial Bridge to Sandy Bottoms: 4 miles

Map: Toccoa River Trail
Map: Toccoa River & Lake Blue Ridge

US Forest Service

Blue Ridge Ranger District
2042 Highway 515 West
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-6298

A Rolling Thunder River Company

20 Hughes Street
McCaysville, GA 30555
706-492-5720
rollingthunderriverco.com

Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking

56 North River Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-258-2411
blueridgemountainkayaking.com

Jon Ron Toccoa River Outfitters

15 Black Ankle Creek Road
Cherry Log, GA 30522
706-838-0200
jonrontro.com

Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental

70 Shallowford Bridge Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-632-2462
Facebook page

Toccoa River Tubing Company

340 Toccoa Avenue
McCaysville, GA 30555
706-492-5280
toccoatubing.com

Toccoa Valley Tubing & Campground

11481 Aska Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-838-4317
toccoavalleycampground.com

Toccoa Wilderness Tubing

8436 Aska Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-455-6496
toccoawildernesstubing.com

VanZandt’s Riverwalk Grocery & Grill & Tubing

103 Newport Road
Blue Ridge, GA 30513
706-838-4158
vansriverwalk.com

DIRECTIONS: The Deep Hole Recreation Area is a USFS campground located off GA Hwy. 60. Launch and parking costs $5 per vehicle. From the McDonald’s restaurant at the intersection of Hwy. 515 and Hwy. 5 in Blue Ridge, follow Hwy. 515 east approx. 4.5 miles to GA Hwy. 60. Turn right on Hwy. 60 and go 0.5 mile to old US 76. Turn left and go 1.5 miles. Turn right on Hwy. 60 and go 14.7 miles to the entrance on the right.

To access the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Take Out: From the McDonald’s restaurant at the intersection of Hwy. 515 and Hwy. 5, follow Hwy. 515 east approx. 0.8 miles to Windy Ridge Rd. Turn right and go 0.2 miles to stop sign. Turn left on old US 76 and go 0.2 miles to Aska Road. Turn right and go 8.5 miles; turn left and cross Shallowford Bridge, then turn right on Shallowford Bridge Rd. Go 1.3 miles to Old Dial Rd. Turn right on Old Dial Rd. and go 0.6 miles to the take out on the right.

Lake Winfield Scott

Lake Winfield Scott in Suches, GA

Lake Winfield Scott offers public recreation areas for swimming, boating, fishing and camping.

Lake Winfield Scott is a quiet 18-acre lake situated high in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and features a sandy beach for swimming and a free-standing pier for fishing. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to swim, fish, boat, picnic, hike and camp. The recreation area also has 31 campsites and a rental cabin.

  • $5 per vehicle day use area for swimming, fishing & boating
  • Two picnic shelters available by reservation
  • 2-story rental cabin for up to 12 people
  • 31 sites for tent and RV camping, plus a group camping area
  • Picnic tables, fire rings and grills
  • Modern facilities with hot showers
  • Open year-round
Cradle of Forestry in America

439 Lake Winfield Scott
Suches, GA 30572
706-747-3816

Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area & Campground

439 Lake Winfield Scott
Suches, GA 30572
706-747-3816
cfaia.org website

DIRECTIONS: From Blairsville, take Hwy. 19/129 south about 9.2 miles. Turn right onto State Route 180 and go 6.8 miles. Turn left onto Lake Winfield Scott Road.

Nottely River

Georgia Mountain Parkway - Kayakers enjoy the Nottely River in Blairsville, Georgia

Paddlers in colorful kayaks enjoy the Nottely River in Blairsville, Georgia. A canoe/kayak launch is available in Meeks Park II.

The Nottely River begins below Vogel State Park and travels from south to north through Blairsville into Lake Nottely. Mountain trout fishing is popular, as well as tubing and kayaking. Butternut Creek merges with the Nottely River at Meeks Park, where you’ll also find a canoe/kayak launch area.

Meeks Park

490 Meeks Park Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-439-6074
unioncountyga.gov

 

Meeks Park II Canoe Launch

Sid Chandler Road off Old Highway 76
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-439-6074
unioncountyga.gov

Nottely River Campground, Cabins & Tubing

3832 Gainesville Highway
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-6711
nottelyrivercampground.com

DIRECTIONS: The Canoe/Kayak Launch at Meeks Park is accessed via Old Highway 76/Blue Ridge Highway. Head west from Blairsville and turn left on Blue Ridge Highway. Go about 1 mile and turn right on Sid Chandler Road (look for the Meeks Park II signs).

 

Lake Chatuge

pontoon boat on Lake Chatuge, Hiawassee

Boaters on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia, celebrate Independence Day.

Lake Chatuge attracts boaters, swimmers and fishermen from all over to its shores, which stretch along 130+ miles of coves, inlets and hideouts. Straddling both Georgia and North Carolina, access is easy from both Hiawassee and Young Harris, Georgia. Serious anglers enjoy catching bass (largemouth, spotted, striped and hybrids), catfish, bream and crappie. Rainbow and brown trout can be found upstream in the Hiawassee River.

The Towns County Beach is open free of charge for swimming, sunning, strolling, picnicking and playing on the playground.

Lake Chatuge was created in the early 1940s when the Chatuge Dam was built for flood control and hydroelectric power. Named for an 18th century Cherokee village, Chatuge Dam is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

400 West Summit Hill Drive
Knoxville, TN 37902
865-632-2101

Aqua Tiki

3379 US Highway 76 West
Hiawassee, GA 30546
706-400-2069
aquatiki.net

Towns County Beach & Playground

Highway 76
Hiawassee, GA 30546
706-896-2276
townscountyga.org

Wing-N-It Seaplane Adventures

1660 Palmour Drive
Gainesville, GA 30501
678-971-9922
wingnitadventures.com

Young Harris Watersports

3676 Highway 76 West
Young Harris, GA 30582
706-896-0834
yhwatersports.com

DIRECTIONS: The Towns County Recreational Beach & Playground on Lake Chatuge is on US 76 in Hiawassee, across the street from the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.

Hiwassee/Hiawassee River

Hiwassee River

The Hiwassee/Hiawassee River runs north from Towns County, Georgia, into North Carolina and Tennessee.

Also known as the Hiawasse River, the Hiwassee River begins its 132-mile long journey in Towns County, Georgia. It then flows northwest into North Carolina and Tennessee, where it joins the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. The river is dammed by the TVA in three places, most notably the Chatuge Dam in Hayesville, NC, thus forming Lake Chatuge. In Georgia, the river runs mostly through private property, so public access is limited. Sport fishing is popular at Chatuge Dam, both in the reservoir and in the Hiwassee River below the dam. A concrete weir below the dam provides a steady flow of water and increases oxygen levels for improved trout fishing.

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, Inc.

PO Box 889 / 90 Tennessee Street #D
Murphy, NC 28906
828-837-5414

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, Inc.

PO Box 889 / 90 Tennessee Street #D
Murphy, NC 28906
828-837-5414