Some people are beach people. Some feel a call for the mountains. And others love to live the lake life! Luckily, with tons of gorgeous natural and man-made lakes in and around North Georgia, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast! Play on a sandy beach, go for a boat ride, do some fishing, go kayaking or waterskiing, enjoy a hike to a waterfall, and have a picnic by the water at some of the best lakes in North Georgia!
Black Rock Lake | Mountain City
Located in Black Rock Mountain State Park, Black Rock Lake offers a nice, easy hike along a less-than-1-mile loop trail. A walk around the lake means lovely views of white pine, yellow poplar, wooden bridges across Taylor Creek and Greasy Creek, a wheelchair-accessible pier, and an 80-foot bridge (over Cricket Cove). Anglers will enjoy fishing for catfish, yellow perch, largemouth bass, bream, and the rainbow trout it is stocked with. Love a picnic with the family? Bring your basket and sit down at one of the picnic areas along Black Rock Lake!
Carters Lake | Ellijay
Developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this man-made lake is home to Carters Lake Dam. Towering 445 feet high, Carters Lake Dam is the tallest of its kind east of the Mississippi. Carters Lake is also the deepest in the state at 450 feet deep. With 62 miles of shoreline, the lake offers plenty of opportunities for playing at the beach, boat rentals and kayaks at the marina, and fishing for crappie, bream, catfish, striped bass, walleye, and more. Up for a hike? Take the Oak Ridge Trail for a creek end, the Hidden Pond Songbird Trail for a beaver pond treat, or the Carters Lake Nature Trail for lots of local flowers and trees.
Conasauga Lake | Chatsworth
Conasauga Lake is the highest lake in the state of Georgia at over 3,000 feet above sea level. It’s located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, not far from the peak of Grassy Mountain. It’s another man-made lake (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940) that boasts a swimming area, boat ramps, picnic spots, bright blue water, and a wide variety of flowers and wildlife. Birdwatchers will have a ball, and anglers can enjoy casting a line for bluegill, bass, and trout that are stocked in the lake. Of course, hiking is on the menu too! From a beaver pond and bog to a forest and historic fire tower, Conasauga Lake offers some great hiking opportunities. Lace up and take a hike on the Lake Conasauga Songbird Trail (1.7 miles) or the Grassy Mountain Tower Trail (5.3 miles).
Lake Allatoona | Acworth
Lake Allatoona is a sprawling lake, with 270 miles of shoreline and 25,000 acres of land all around. It was created when the Etowah River was blocked off. Find it all here, including swimming, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, campgrounds, boating, jet skiing and water skiing, standup paddleboarding, and more. Outdoor fans will enjoy activities in Red Top Mountain State Park, from hiking and picnicking to biking and beyond. In fact, there are more than 150 picnic sites where you can enjoy a delicious lunch as a couple, with family, or with friends. Visitors can also learn more about the lake, park, and area at the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center.
Top Hikes in Red Top Mountain State Park
- Pine Mountain Trail – 4.5 miles + lake views
- Red Top Mountain Homestead Trail – 5.3 miles + Appalachian cabin + lakeshore views
- Red Top Mountain Lakeside Trail – .75 miles + easy + ADA accessible
Lake Blue Ridge | Blue Ridge
Want a day at the lake just minutes from downtown Blue Ridge? Spend the day at Lake Blue Ridge! One of the best lakes in Georgia, Lake Blue Ridge was created in 1930 with the construction of the Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River. It boasts about 60 miles of shoreline, most scenically set in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Hikers will enjoy an 0.8-mile stroll around the lake on the Lake Blue Ridge Loop Trail, while water lovers will appreciate recreational activities in the Lake Blue Ridge Recreational Area. Here there are public boat ramps for easy water access. Visitors can rent kayaks, paddleboards, pontoon boats, and more. The Morganton Point Recreational Area is home to a lovely pebble beach where visitors can swim and relax.
Lake Burton | Clayton
Lake Burton boasts an interesting history, as one of the first lakes in the state to be created for power generating and getting its name from a Rabun County town that is now under water! Lake Burton is home to Moccasin Creek State Park, which offers hiking trails, picnic areas, a playground, a wheelchair-accessible pier, and more. There are even waterfalls, 3 marinas, a sandy beach at Timpson Cove Park, and an impressive variety of fish – including largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, walleye, yellow perch, and crappie.
Lake Chatuge | Hiawassee
A must-see on a North Georgia getaway, Lake Chatuge is one of the most popular Georgia lakes. With the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it sits on the border of North Carolina and Georgia. The lake offers 130+ miles of shore, public boat ramps, opportunities for waterskiing and kayaking, two marinas for rentals, the Towns County Recreational Beach for swimming, and a 1-mile hike along the Lake Chatuge Trail.
Lake Lanier | Gainesville
Lake Lanier was created with the construction of Buford Dam in 1956 on the Chattahoochee River. Named after 19th-century poet Sidney Lanier, it’s as scenic as you’d think. It currently sits as the largest lake in the state of Georgia, boasting almost 700 miles of shore for outdoor fun. Go on a boat ride, try kayaking, go waterskiing, swim, have a picnic by the water, do some golfing, or go fishing for striped bass, catfish, walleye, bluegill, and more. The state’s newest state park, Don Carter State Park, offers more outdoor fun, including hiking and swimming at the beach.
Lake Rabun | Rabun County
Created for hydroelectric power for Atlanta (managed by Georgia Power), Lake Rabun is now an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Travelers in North Georgia can enjoy picnicking along the lake, campsites, a public beach, a boat ramp, lots of water sports, fishing opportunities, waterfalls, a restaurant, and fun community events.
Lake Hartwell + Clarks Hill | On the Georgia/South Carolina BorderIf you’re looking for a longer day drive from your Blue Ridge cabin or something along your drive to the cabin, consider visiting Lake Hartwell – with more than 900 miles of shoreline and almost 56,000 acres of water. Fishing is a favorite here, with anglers casting a line for catfish, walleye, largemouth bass, striped bass, and more. Clarks Hill and Russell Lake are also located along the border, with plenty of outdoor activities.