Kayaking on Lake Nottely. Photo by Miriam Camp, @miriamcampphoto

Kayaking on Lake Nottely in Blairsville, Georgia. Photo by Miriam Camp, @miriamcampphoto

5 Secret Ways to Enjoy Georgia Lakes

Georgia has almost 60,000 square miles of water throughout the state. From lakes to rivers, there are a lot of places to get out and enjoy a day on the water.

Go fishing for Georgia's official state fish, the largemouth bass, in Lake Seminole. Try wakeboarding on Lakes Sinclair and OconeeRent paddleboards to explore Lake Chatuge, or just relax on shore at one of Georgia's many parks and recreation areas, like George Washington Carver Park on Lake Allatoona. 

Before you choose your next adventure, read these little-known secrets about five of Georgia's lakes to add a bit of color to your trip.

Lake Nottely

Lake Nottely in Blairsville

Lake Nottely is a gorgeous 4,000-acre lake in Blairsville with more than half the shoreline undeveloped and protected by the United States Forest Service. That in itself makes this lake special, but for the true insider, you need to know the secret swimming spots.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the Nottely Marina for a lake map, and while you are there, inquire about whether the rope swing is still hanging at the cliffs. Or, just head out near the dam, where it is good and deep for jumping off the boat and swimming.

Elijah Clark State Park

Clarks Hill Lake in Lincolnton

Clarks Hill Lake is fondly known as Georgia's Freshwater Coast and is a fisherman's paradise near Augusta. It has 400 miles of shoreline to explore and 71,100 acres of water, making it one of the largest lakes in the Southeast. That means plenty of room for traditional lake activities like boating, skiing and swimming.

For something a bit different though, dock the boat and visit Elijah Clark State Park for a little history lesson. On the property you'll find the Revolutionary War era home of Elijah Clark, his spunky wife Hannah and their eight children.

Carters Lake in Ellijay, Georgia

Carters Lake in Ellijay

Carters Lake has 62 miles of shoreline and no private docks or development along the edge, making it the perfect place to get away in Ellijay. Put your canoe or kayak in at the boat ramp at Ridgeway Recreation Area and paddle north to Tumbling Waters. This is an easy paddle and good for kids, too. At the end you’ll be rewarded with a stunning waterfall.

Wear water shoes so you can go ashore, climb the falls and get some really spectacular photos. There are two observation decks, as well as a 1.5-mile hiking loop.

Pontoon boat on Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier in Buford

You may have heard of Lake Lanier Islands' splashy new attraction packed with family fun called Margaritaville, but for a more laid-back lake excursion, you can cruise the water on a houseboat or pontoon boat from one of the lake's many marinas, like the Port of Indecision or Port Royale Marina.

GetMyBoat rents everything from kayaks to mega yachts. They have a Sea Ray Sundancer 240 you can rent overnight at Lake Lanier. Talk about a unique way to explore the nooks and crannies of this 38,000-acre North Georgia gem.

Boating on Lake Blackshear with SAM Shortline train

Lake Blackshear, Cordele

One of the most unique activities when staying at Lake Blackshear Resort in Cordele is riding over the lake on the Historic SAM Shortline Railroad. No matter which excursion you take, the train tracks go over a portion of the lake. Riders can look out and feel as if they are skimming along the top through the knobby cypress trees.

Of course, there are plenty of traditional lake activities, too. Rent a boat, kayak or canoe, fish from the shore, or just take a swim.

Published: April 2021
Written by: Sue Rodman
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