Moun­tain Lakes of the South­east

Times of the Islands - - Contents - BY LIBBY MCMILL AN HENSON

Florid­i­ans are used to water views. With­out re­al­iz­ing it, how­ever, we've come to ac­cept a flat hori­zon with our wa­tery vis­tas. What a won­der­ful treat, then, to ex­pe­ri­ence the majesty of a moun­tain lake, set amid a hori­zon of blue and green peaks. We’ve com­piled a few of the South­east’s most beau­ti­ful moun­tain lakes, all within a short flight (or a long day’s drive) from South­west Florida.


Di­rectly south of Knoxville, Ten­nessee, is a gor­geous North Car­olina moun­tain lake with a set­ting di­rectly in the Great Smoky Moun­tains Na­tional Park. North Car­olina’s Fon­tana

Lake is the largest in western North Car­olina, and what a beauty it is. One visit and you’ll likely be long­ing for a reg­u­lar moun­tain lake get­away.

Blow­ing Rock’s tiny but re­lax­ing Price Lake doesn’t win any con­tests for size, but it of­fers lovely moun­tain views, pad­dling, fish­ing, pic­nick­ing and hik­ing. An­glers will find bait for sale and tackle that can be rented. A whop­ping 100 pic­nic sites an­chor the many creeks off the lake. Equidis­tant from Char­lotte and Asheville, the quaint vil­lage of Blow­ing Rock reg­u­larly beck­ons moun­tain lovers each sum­mer and fall.

South­east of Asheville, and stretch­ing out be­low dizzy­ing Chim­ney Rock, re­lax­ing Lake Lure an­chors a vil­lage by the same name. At its east end, you’ll find the pop­u­lar Larkin’s on the Lake restau­rant, where late af­ter­noon sun warms pa­trons while they en­joy a daz­zling view. Lake Lure has lovely rental homes, many with docks, as well as boat ren­tals, nearby golf and other recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties. Sum­mer brings sev­eral fes­ti­vals to the vil­lage, which also of­fers lodg­ing.


Strad­dling the North Car­olina-Ge­or­gia state line, Lake Chatuge (pro­nounced shuh-TOOG) makes up part of the “Chain of Lakes,” along with North Car­olina’s Apalachia Lake and Hi­wassee Lake (not to be con­fused with the town of Hi­awassee, Ge­or­gia, on Lake Chatuge). Gor­geous and af­ford­able, this area’s lodg­ing op­tions in­clude ho­tels, inns, rental homes and a sprawl­ing re­sort with golf, horses and day spa. Boat ren­tals al­low a day of ex­plor­ing Hi­wassee’s 6,090 acres, count­less coves and the homes that dot its 180-mile lakeshore. You’ll find a boat ramp, full-ser­vice ma­rina, boat ren­tals and hik­ing trails that take ad­van­tage of these lakes’ Nan­ta­hala Na­tional For­est set­ting.

Scenic Lake Blue Ridge, in the north Ge­or­gia moun­tains, was cre­ated when the mighty Toc­coa River was dammed. Launch your own boat from a full-ser­vice ma­rina, or rent a pon­toon boat, ca­noe, stand-up pad­dle­board (SUP) or even a pad­dle boat. The lake’s Mor­gan­town Point Recrea­tion Area has its own beach, show­ers, pic­nic ar­eas, hik­ing trails and an out­fit­ter that rents kayaks, SUPs, fish­ing equip­ment and bait. Camp­ing is also avail­able here, as are many, many cab­ins at all price points, in­clud­ing some near the vil­lage of Blue Ridge (see side­bar). Lux­ury rental homes will in­clude in­door and out door fire­places, hot tubs and big views. An­glers must visit Oys­ter Bam­boo Fly Rods, the shop and stu­dio of crafts­man Bill Oys­ter.

Don Carter State Park—Ge­or­gia’s new­est—opens up a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties at mas­sive Lake Lanier. A swim­ming beach, boat ramps, hik­ing and cy­cling trails and two-bed­room cab­ins await vis­i­tors to the park. This 38,000-acre lake (pro­nounced luh-NEER) lies just north­east of At­lanta. Any num­ber of va­ca­tion

ren­tals are avail­able, as are boat ren­tals.

Lake Rabun, at only 835 acres, is a short drive from his­toric Clay­ton and its bustling down­town, near the Ge­or­gia-North Car­olina state line. Boat, fish, camp, hike, pic­nic or set­tle in for a longer stay, with a rental home or a room at the charm­ing Lake Rabun Ho­tel. The lake’s 25 miles of shore­line in­clude Na­coochee Park.


The shore­line of South Car­olina’s nau­ti­cal trea­sure—300-foot-deep

Lake Jo­cassee— is al­most com­pletely pro­tected from de­vel­op­ment. Jaw-drop­ping Blue Ridge Moun­tain views and even wa­ter­falls await boaters and pad­dlers on this 7,500-acre com­po­nent of the Jo­cassee Gorges area, which Na­tional Geo­graphic mag­a­zine named “one of the 50 last great places on Earth.” Cab­ins at Dev­ils Fork State Park of­fer a rare op­por­tu­nity to va­ca­tion on this mem­o­rable lakeshore. Greenville is one hour away by car.

Beau­ti­ful Lake Ke­owee, in the South Car­olina up­state, pro­vides boaters and va­ca­tion­ers with stun­ning panoramic peaks. Be­cause its shore­line con­sists of, in large part, lux­ury neigh­bor­hoods, you’ll find gor­geous lake­front homes for rent here, as well as a few ships stores, mari­nas and mar­kets. Au­thor Libby McMil­lan Henson reg­u­larly spends sum­mers ex­plor­ing the lakes of the Blue Ridge Moun­tains. She’s par­tic­u­larly fond of boat­ing on crys­tal-clear moun­tain lakes, and never gets tired of the views.

Lake Lure Price Lake Fon­tana Lake

Lake Rabun Lake Blue Ridge

Lake Ke­owee

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