Georgia is a state rich with lakes, and no two are the same around here. From expansive mountain reservoirs to quiet, riverine lakes fed by the Chattahoochee, we’ve got the scoop on where and how to enjoy the Peach State’s freshwater amenities.
Georgia’s Lake Country is made up of two expansive lakes, Lakes Oconee and Sinclair, surrounded by four communities, Madison, Greensboro, Eatonton, and Milledgeville. Each community offers an assortment of activities perfect for singles, friends, families, or pets! There are events and activities for those visiting for an afternoon or a few days. Enjoy your stay at a charming B&B, tour local historic towns and homes, and experience local Southern art and entertainment. Schedule a tee time, go shopping, enjoy a horseback ride and sightseeing with the family or maybe just relax by Lake Oconee or Lake Sinclair. A weekend here is always a good idea.
Lake Blue Ridge
Lake Blue Ridge is one of Georgia’s most beautiful mountain lakes. It’s a 3,290-acre lake located in Blue Ridge, Ga. It boasts crystal clear, aquamarine water, and is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and full of fun.
In the area around Lake Blue Ridge, you’ll find campgrounds, several boat ramps, a full-service marina, a public swimming area, and picnic tables. Find access points here.
Another of Georgia’s Blue Ridge mountain lakes, Carters Lake is located halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, contains 3,200 acres of pristine water, and is the deepest lake in the state of Georgia. Amenities include a full-service marina, cabin rentals, and boat rentals, including party-sized boats. Visit the Carters Lake Marina and Resort for these rentals.
With plenty of opportunities for camping, boating, fishing, and water activities, most descriptions of this lake also note that its fingerlike structures afford visitors many quiet, private coves to enjoy.
If visiting in Georgia, Lake Chatuge is easily accessed and enjoyed in Hiawassee. In addition to plenty of public ramps for boat access, Boundary Waters Resort and Marina offers boat rentals/sales, cabin rentals, and a marina. Towns County manages a public recreational beach for swimming, picnics, and playgrounds.
Goat Rock Lake
A 940-acre reservoir lake (though very river-shaped) of the Chattahoochee River, Goat Rock sits about 10 miles north of Columbus, Georgia along the Georgia-Alabama border. The lake is named after the Goat Rock Dam and Generating Plant, and thanks to Georgia Power, there are public boat access points and restrooms throughout the area.
Visitors should be aware, though, that this lake has very little recreational activity beyond fishing, and according to Lakes Online, only one marina is located on the Georgia side of the lake.
This 225-acre reservoir lake is nestled in Hamburg State Park, roughly 40 miles east of Milledgeville. A “stumpy” lake fed by the Little Ogeechee River, the only boats permitted are ones with trolling motors or outboards (up to 10 horsepower).
In addition to fishing, park visitors can enjoy camping (with hot showers and electric hookups), playgrounds, wildlife sights and sounds, the park museum, and the restored 1921-era gristmill, showcased during special events.
High Falls Lake
An ideal lake for sports fishermen, High Falls Lake measures 650 acres, is fed by the Towaliga River, and sits along Interstate 75 in central Georgia (in Butts, Lamar, and Monroe Counties). You’ll be awed by the tallest waterfall south of Atlanta.
At the State Park, visitors can boat (rentals are available; nothing greater than 10 horsepower allowed), hike, swim (in the lake or in the pool, open seasonally), and camp–even in yurts. The park also has a regularly programmed events calendar packed with family fun worth experiencing, too.
The “There is a lot of lake to enjoy” description rings true for Allatoona. This reservoir lake just north of Kennesaw measures 12,000 acres and is surrounded by 25,000 acres of public land, making it a popular recreational lake for Georgians.
The Lake Allatoona website is a great starting point for planning a trip, whether you plan to access the water from public or privately-owned land. You’ll find a wealth of information on marinas, cabins and campsites, nearby recreation areas, and day parks for swimming beaches and picnics.
Another riverine lake along the Chattahoochee, Lake Andrews sits on the Georgia-Alabama border just north of Florida near Blakely, GA and measures 1,540 acres. This reservoir lake is another managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and
This reservoir lake is another managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and their website lists boat access points, picnic areas, and nonelectric campsites at Coheelee Creek Park on the Georgia side of the lake.
Located near Waleska in Cherokee County, Lake Arrowhead is a 540-acre lake surrounded by the private Lake Arrowhead community. Said to be “Metro Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret,” this stream-fed lake is one of the largest privately owned lakes in the state–and also one of the cleanest.
Members of the community–and their lucky friend and family guests–can enjoy the gamut of recreational activities. Kingdom Yachts Sailing Club operates the Lake Arrowhead Marina and manages sailing lessons, boat rentals, and the sailing club. The beautiful 18-hole golf course is open to the public.
A man-made lake dammed from the Flint River and covering 8,500 acres, Lake Blackshear is located near Cordele, GA, southwest of Macon. The robust Georgia Veterans State Park on the eastern side of the lake includes a military museum, golf course, swimming beach and lies along the path of the SAM Shortline Railway.
Within the park visitors can enjoy the deluxe Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, complete with lodge rooms, cottages, golf, and the amenities of a full-fledged convention center and event venue.
Lake Blackshear is an amenity-rich Georgia lake: swim, boat, walk, picnic, fish…it’s all here.
Located in north Georgia’s mountainous Rabun County, Lake Burton measures 2,775 acres and is managed by the Georgia Power Company. Well-known for its large lakeside homes, Lake Burton recently made headlines when University of Alabama Coach Nick Saban sold his $10.95 million investment behemoth in 2013.
Visitors can choose from a variety of options for enjoying the lake and its surrounding natural beauty (waterfalls, biking and hiking trails and more), including Jones Bridge Park, Moccasin Creek State Park (includes camp sites), and Timpson Cove Park (best known for its swimming beach). Bear Gap Outfitters and Anchorage Boat Dock are popular local outfitters.
Another Georgia Power reservoir lake, Chehaw (formerly known as Lake Worth) is located in south Georgia in Albany. Explore Georgia highlights the lake’s canoe trail and covered picnic area; there are also three public boat access points on the lake.
Of particular interest to visitors is Chehaw, the nonprofit-operated 700+ acre park system that includes Chehaw Wild Animal Park, Creekside Education Center, and Children’s Play Park.
Another of the Georgia Power reservoir lakes along the Chattahoochee River, Lake Harding lies north of Columbus, Georgia and east of Auburn, Alabama. A notably deep lake that measures 5,850 acres, Lake Harding is popular as both a residential and recreational lake.
The Lake Harding News website is a useful resource for nearby businesses, outfitters, restaurants, and points of interest. Be sure to check out the Houston’s Island–one of the lake’s many islands–to see the ruins of an old lake house.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Hartwell is one of the most visited Corps lakes in the country and one of the Southeast’s largest (~56,000 acres) public recreational lakes. Thousands of people flock to Hartwell, which lies on the Georgia-South Carolina border.
A perfect lake for the gamut of water/nature activities, check out the multitude of access points here. For service, storage and rentals, visit Hartwell Marina or Big Water Marina (which also offers sailing lessons). In Georgia, state park access is located in Tugaloo State Park.
Located southeast of Atlanta just outside the greater Metro Atlanta area (aka, when things start to get rural), Lake Jackson is a reservoir lake (4,750 acres) managed by Georgia Power. GP notes that Lake Jackson is popular for water sports, swimming, camping, picnicking, and pier fishing.
Fittingly, Lake Juliette neighbors Lake Jackson both in this list and geographically. A reservoir lake (3,600 acres) managed by Georgia Power, the company notes that while Jackson better-known as the activity lake, Juliette is the destination for tranquility, scenic views, and fishing.
Other qualities that distinguish Juliette from Jackson are its undeveloped shorelines: no houses, beaches, or commercial development. Additionally, outboards above 25 hp are prohibited, meaning this lake is for fishing only. Both Explore Georgia and Georgia Power recommend Dames Ferry Park for camping, hunting, and day pavilion and boating use.
Measuring 38,000 acres, this expansive reservoir lake 60 miles north of Atlanta is a Georgia favorite. Lanier is a packaged deal: come for the full gamut of lake activities, commercial and real estate development, and even a water park. It’s a crowded place to be during peak season, but worthwhile.
The Lake Lanier CVB website is replete with useful information for visitors, from where to eat and sleep to how to best spend your time on the water.
A TVA reservoir lake located near Blairsville in north Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, Lake Nottely measures 4,180 acres and is well-known for fishing, water sports, and family recreational activities.
Poteete Creek Park in Union County includes camper and tent sites and a recreation area complete with boat ramps, picnic tables and pavilions, and a swimming beach. Check out Nottely Marina for boating needs. And here are more fun things to do around the lake in Blairsville.
A 19,000-acre lake that touches four counties in east Georgia (halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, roughly), Lake Oconee is a destination for both casual and luxury outdoor fun. Enjoy the gamut of water activities in addition to the culturally rich and charming lake surroundings.
Visit Lake Oconee, produced by the Greene County Tourism Office, is an excellent resource for planning an Oconee getaway, and check out why we LOVE Reynolds Lake Oconee as a luxurious vacation spot.
Another Georgia Power reservoir, the 2,150-acre Lake Oliver is located in Columbus, Georgia along the Chattahoochee River.
The one public access point on the river, Lake Oliver Marina, is managed by the City of Columbus. Here you can enjoy the typical amenities of a marina in addition to a short-order breakfast and lunch grill. Lake Oliver is also the northernmost point of the Chattahoochee Riverwalk, so in addition to lake fun, bring your bikes and walking shoes.
One of a handful of northeastern reservoir lakes managed by Georgia Power, Lake Rabun measures 835 acres and is often described as “twisty” in shape. The Lake Rabun Association ensures that the community on and around the lake is thriving, producing beloved traditions like 4th of July activities and a Tour of Homes.
Lake Rabun remains a popular summer getaway for Atlanta-area families, ideal for water sporting activities and enjoying scenic, mountainous North Georgia. One Lake Rabun website lists Lake Rabun Hotel and Louie’s on the Lake as community dining favorites. Check out the Lake Rabun Beach Recreation Area for public access and Rabun Boathouse for boating needs.
Measuring 26,500 acres, Lake Russell boasts affiliation with Richard B. Russell State Park and is located near Elberton in eastern Georgia.
The state park self-reports that it offers “some of the state’s finest fishing and boating,” and there you will also find a campground and cottages, a swimming beach, 18-hole golf and a disc golf course, in addition to boating rentals/infrastructure and hiking.
Visitors can also enjoy the Lake Russell Recreation Area and the charming, historic City of Elberton.
Resting on the southwest Georgia-Florida border, Lake Seminole is an Army Corps of Engineers lake measuring 37,500 acres.
Easily access the lake at Seminole State Park, which includes boating, fishing, birding, camping/cottages, nature trails, and a sandy swimming beach to enjoy–in addition to the park’s robust event calendar. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages 11 additional lake recreation areas.
Another Georgia Power reservoir lake located near Lake Oconee, Lake Sinclair sits just outside of Milledgeville, Georgia and measures 15,330 acres.
The Georgia Power lake website contains a wealth of resources and recommendation of lake access and amenities, including Rocky Creek Park. Use the interactive map to explore activities based on location. You can do it all at Sinclair, making it a perfect warm weather getaway, especially.
While this small (~450 acres), private lake has no public access, it does have an interesting history and list of local celebrities (Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A and Atlanta news anchor Monica Pearson, to name a few) who have lived in one of its surrounding communities. Spivey, located near Jonesboro, is just 20 miles south of Atlanta proper
If you’re not able to secure access to the lake as a guest of one of the lake’s surrounding neighborhoods (managed by the Lake Spivey Civic Association), enjoy views of the lake during the Lake Spivey Road Race, or play a few holes at the Lake Spivey Golf Club.
Lake Strom Thurmond
Located on the Georgia-South Carolina border, Lake Strom Thurmond measures 71,000 acres, making it the third largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi and one of the top 10 most visited Army Corps lakes in the country.
The Corps website lists the full variety of ways you can enjoy the lake, from water-skiing in quiet coves to picnicking on a sandy recreational beach. Boats of all kind are welcome, as are fishers and campers.
Locals know it as Lake Tobo, and it’s a stone’s throw from central Georgia’s major city, Macon. The city manages a great website that gives you the rundown on lake activities (fishing, boating, camping) and the lake’s three public parks.
Also worth checking out is the nearby Sandy Beach Water Park and Aquatic Center. Measuring 1,750 acres, there’s plenty here for the family to enjoy.
Located near Tallulah Falls on the Georgia-South Carolina border, Tugalo is a reservoir lake measuring 597 acres and is managed by Georgia Power.
Wholly undeveloped, Tugalo is serene and ideal for relaxing, boating, and fishing. Outboards above 25 hp are prohibited. Tallulah Point park offers scenic views of the lake and Tugalo Dam, as well as pavilions.
Managed by the Newton County Parks and Recreation Department, this 850-acre reservoir lake (also referred to as Cornish Creek Reservoir) is located just outside of Covington, about an hour east of Atlanta off I-20.
No gasoline-powered boats are allowed, but visitors can enjoy electric and paddle boats, playgrounds and picnic areas, and the beautiful scenery found along the nature trails. For more information on park hours and admission, visit the Newton County website.
The bulk of this Alabama Power-owned reservoir lies in–you guessed it–Alabama, but Georgians can enjoy about 2,000 acres of lake and the Coosa River between Rome and the state border.
Access the water in Georgia at Lock and Dam Park, which includes RV campsites, recreation areas, full bathrooms/showers, nature trails, picnic areas, and proximity to Coosa River Trading Post.
A small 325-acre lake in the series of hydroelectric reservoirs managed by Georgia Power in northeast Georgia, visitors can boat, fish, camp and picnic.
Tugalo Park at Lake Yonah includes primitive camping sights, restrooms and pavilions, and public boat access. This lake is also quite close to Tallulah Falls, worth seeing for yourself.
Randy Poynter Lake
Fairly close to Varner, Randy Poynter Lake is a 650-acre reservoir lake managed by Rockdale County and accessed via Black Shoals Park, open six days a week.
Since this lake is used for drinking water, swimming and gasoline boats are prohibited, but visitors can boat, picnic, fish off the pier, and enjoy the playground and walking trails.
Located outside of Downtown Covington in Newton County, Turner Lake (26 acres) can be enjoyed via the Turner Lake Recreation Center which, in addition to ball fields and a senior center, includes paved and unpaved walking trails, picnic areas, and quiet spots for fishing.
To learn more about the trails, explore this website‘s interactive maps of the Turner Lake trail system.
Walter George Lake
An Army Corps of Engineers reservoir located on the Georgia-Alabama border near Cuthbert, GA and Eufala, AL, Walter George Lake measures 45,180 acres and offers miles of shoreline for folks to take advantage of.
There are 13 day-use parks and four campsites managed by the Corps, and even more options are listed on their website. Enjoy the full gamut of lake activities at this one.
West Point Lake
West Point Lake is another Army Corps of Engineers lake supplied by the Chattahoochee River. It runs for 35 miles along the Georgia-Alabama border west of LaGrange.
With 525 miles of shoreline, it’s easy to plan a day or weekend filled with boating, fishing, water sports, hunting, and camping. Follow the lake’s Facebook page for programming updates and use Highland Marina and Southern Harbor Marina for boating needs.
*Feature photo of Lake Lanier, courtesy of Grant Chatterstone