Lake Nottely is a gorgeous 4,000 acre lake with more than half it’s shoreline undeveloped and protected by the United State Forest Service. This hidden secret in North Georgia is much quieter than some other lakes in the state, and that’s precisely why we like it.
Those that are familiar with the area know that Lake Nottely in the town of Blairsville, Ga. is a small town lake with some of the best fishing in the state. But Nottely Lake is also a perfect place for a family getaway. In addition to fun-filled days on the water, you’ll find beautiful un-crowded hiking trails, and a surprising number of great restaurants in nearby Blairsville.
We have 25+ reasons why you should plan a visit to Blairsville’s Hidden Gem, Lake Nottely. Number nine is one of my favorites!
Natural Shoreline. The United States Forest Service, including about 70 percent of Lake Nottely’s shoreline, protects almost half of Union County land. That means beautiful views from the lake, especially in fall when the leaves are changing. Here’s a link to a Lake Nottely map.
Location. Just two hours north of Atlanta, Lake Nottely (in the Chattahoochee National Forest) is close enough for a day trip, or a weekend getaway where you spend more time enjoying yourself and less time in the car.
Small Town Charm. Lake Nottely has a very local, laid back feel. It’s a quiet lake with a true small town feel. The Lake Nottely Improvement Association does a lot to keep the lake clean, fun and safe. In fact, the day we went to interview Moriah Doucette of the Nottely Marina, she was participating in a lake clean up with LNIA. I always like a place with a strong local community.
Lake Nottely Fishing. Lake Nottely is well known by locals for its incredible fishing, especially bass, and the state stocks the water to give anglers more opportunities. Book a guided trip through Lake Nottley Fishing Charter, or go it on your own. Here’s a great place to get an up-to-date Lake Nottely fishing report.
Lake Nottely Boat Rentals. I love spending the day on the lake, but a boat just isn’t within my budget. At Lake Nottely Marina, rent a pontoon or Jon boat and explore the 4,180 acres by water. If you have your own boat, you can also launch it from the marina – and know staff is there in case you need a little help.
Multiple Public Launch Sites. If you have your own boat, there are four public boat ramps at Lake Nottely, One on Canal Road, Deavers Town, McClure Branch Road and Poteete Creek Campground. Here’s a map to the public boat ramps. You can also launch your boat from Nottely Marina for a small fee.
The Best Swimming Spots. Georgia summers, even in the mountains can be steamy. In addition to boating, Lake Nottely is also a swimming lake. Near the dam is deep, good place to anchor and jump off the boat.
Swing from the Trees. Buy a map of the lake from the Lake Nottely Marina, or if you are renting a boat, they’ll give you one with the keys. You’ll find a great rope swing at mile marker three, also known as Davenport Mountain.
Jump from the Cliffs. Use that same map to find the cliffs, another perfect swimming spot where you can jump into the water from cliffs above. Sometimes you’ll even find a rope swing here too.
Poteete Creek Beach. For those who don’t have a boat, you can utilize the public beach located at the Poteete Creek Campground.
Canoe, Kayaking & Quiet Boating. For a quieter tour of the lake, rent a canoe or kayak from the marina. They also have paddle boards and paddle boats for rent. For the best quiet boating experience, paddle to the ‘small part’ of the lake near Meeks Park. If you have your own canoe or kayak, you can also launch it from the Meeks Park kayak launch pad.
Best Place for Quiet Boating. The secret locals spot for paddle boards and kayaks – where the Nottely River and Coosa Creek run into the lake.
Ride the Jetovator. For those who want more excitement, this new water sport is like driving a Star Wars speeder bike above the lake. Rent yours from North Georgia Water Sports.
TVA Nottely Dam. The Nottely River was dammed in 1942 to form the lake. The Tennessee Valley Authority (Tennessee River Watershed) manages the dam and it stretches almost 20 miles! You can stop in the middle and get out of your car to overlook the dam and read a little about its purpose. The dam isn’t just for recreation; it provides electricity in the area, as well as providing seasonal flood storage. Here’s more about the dam and how it serves the community (beyond just being fun).
Explore Under the Lake. Rumor has it if you scuba dive, you’ll find the remains of the town that was flooded when they created Lake Nottely. Even if you don’t dive, you can still explore a little of the lake bottom during the winter months when the levels are reduced and there is more of the shoreline to explore. What was once under water in the summer, is now hikable lake front. The lake is generally at it’s lowest point from October to April.
View the Fall Color. Another reason to come to Nottely in the fall is to see the leaves change. This area has some of the most dramatic fall color in the world, and the season is longer in Georgia than farther up the Appalachian Trail. See black gum, sourwoods, red maples, and more.
Nottely Reservoir Hiking Trails. The Nottely Reservoir Trail is a favorite with locals. It’s a waterfront hike that’s perfect for a stroll, hike or bike. It’s a moderate 1.7 miles of wooded trails that meander around beautiful Lake Nottely. Access to the Trail is approximately 1 mile past Nottely Dam on the left when coming from 129.
Meeks Park Nature Trails. Near the lake is the crown jewel of Blairsville, Meeks Park, and several paved and unpaved walking and nature trails.
Meeks Park. In addition to the nature trails, Meeks Park also has playing fields, a playground, skateboard park, disk golf and swimming pool. It’s also the site of several popular festivals like the Scottish Fest and Highland Games in June and the Sorghum Festival in October. Meeks is located on the South end or ‘small part’ of Lake Nottely, this is a quiet area with a bright red barn on the lake. It’s a favorite for photographs, or just a nice destination to explore.
More to do in Blairsville. See our post on the best things to do in Blairsville for more fun off the lake.
Where to Stay on Lake Nottely
There are no hotels on Lake Nottely, but that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of lodging options. Here are a few to try.
Poteete Creek Campground. There are 59 sites in this campground located on the lake including small and larger camper sites, as well as tent sites. Bring your boat and launch it from the boat dock, or just wade out into the water at the swimming beach. There are restrooms and a bathhouse with showers. This is a popular campsite, so be sure to make reservations. They are open April 1 – Oct. 15.
Lake Nottely Cabin Rentals. In addition to homes, you can also find cabin rentals. You can also use one of the three property management companies that have cabins for rent on the lake – Enchanted Mountain Retreats, Majestic Mountain Getaways and Cozy Cove Cabin Rentals.
Lake Nottely RV Park. If you have a camper, you can stay lakefront at the Lake Nottely RV Park. If you want a lakefront site, book early and know that many of these are usually booked per season. You can also rent a boat slip here.
Nottely River Campground. This campground isn’t on the lake, but it’s close by on the river. Stay here or just visit for an even lower key day on the water tubing the river.
The Best Places to Eat after a Day on Lake Nottely
Blairsville has some fantastic restaurants, so many that we dedicated an entire post to the subject. Here are a few of our favorites if you are staying at the lake.
Hole in the Wall. There are several good breakfast places in Blairsville, but this was the first one on most local’s lips. Hole in the Wall is the oldest diner in Blairsville and serves breakfast all day long. For a hearty mountain breakfast, get the Moonshiner, 2 eggs, 3 bacon or sausage, choice of biscuit & gravy, two French toast or pancakes, bring cash though, they don’t accept credit cards.
The Big Cheese. This is the only restaurant located on Lake Nottely and a good lunch option if you want to stay on the lake. You can park your boat at North Georgia Watersports while you eat at this pizza place.
SawMill. This farm-to-table restaurant also comes highly recommended.
Michaelee’s Italian Caffe. For a real evening out, Michaelees is Blairsville’s white tablecloth restaurant, and a perfect choice for a romantic dinner.
Check out our post on Blairsville restaurants for even more recommendations.
More Lakeside Fun in Blairsville
Lake Nottely is by far the largest lake in Union County, but it isn’t the only one. Nearby you’ll find the crystal clear 18-acre Lake Winfield Scott in Suches and a local favorite, the 20-acre Lake Trahlyta located in Vogel State Park.
Here’s what you can expect at Blairsville’s other lakes.
Lake Winfield Scott. Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area is a destination recreation location situated high in a mountain valley. The recreation area offers year-round recreation opportunities including camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, swimming and hiking centered around the beautiful 18-acre lake. The campground is divided into a north loop and a south loop. Recent upgrades and renovations make Lake Winfield Scott a premier family recreation spot.
Lake Trahlyta. Lake Trahlyta offers a view of the esthetic beauty of the mountains and is situated next to Trahlyta Falls, a stunning north Georgia waterfall. Visitors can enjoy a swimming beach, fishing, and pedal boats on the water in addition to mini golf, interpretive programs, music programs, hiking, fishing, bird watching, CCC museum, cottages, and camping on site at Vogel State Park.