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It’s Labor Day weekend, and Atlantans are hitting the lake. Looking to get in on the action? Here’s what you need to know to get a lake retreat of your own—or even to live there full time (yes, it's possible).
About 150 miles from Atlanta, family-owned Russell Lands includes 14 neighborhoods clustered around the southwest corner of Lake Martin—a 41,000-acre reservoir awarded state “Treasured Lake” status because of its exceptional water quality. The community is about 40 miles from both Auburn and Montgomery.
Back in the days before smartphones, my husband and I made a perilous journey in his 1986 Maxima to Lake Toxaway, North Carolina’s largest private lake. Lousy with directions, I steered him onto a steep wilderness route that must’ve been a forest service road. We twisted and turned up rutted gravel, past sketchy cabins and gnarly dogs. When we finally arrived at the Greystone Inn, it was an oasis.
When my wife, Linda, and I were very young and very poor, we lived in a tin-roofed cabin in Mountain City, Georgia. Sometimes, to love well what we could love for free, we would drive around the lakes of Rabun County and all the green, wrinkled land in that far northeastern part of our state.
On Lake Sinclair, there are no resorts or even hotels, no spas or golf courses—but several karaoke joints. Instead of gated subdivisions, you’ll find a $700,000 home next to a singlewide. But it’s fed by the same waters and framed by the same rolling, farm-dappled forest as its tony sister to the north. It’s fair to say Sinclair is Oconee with its shirt untucked.
Like just about every other sizable body of water in Georgia, Carters Lake is not a lake but a reservoir. It was created thirty-six years ago, when the Coosawattee River—which had been diverted to permit construction of the largest earthen dam east of the Mississippi—slammed into the dam’s embankment.
It’s easy to get lost on Lake Chatuge, but that’s sort of the point. When the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Hiawassee River in 1942, it splattered water everywhere into the nooks and crannies of the Blue Ridge Mountains that straddle the border between Georgia and North Carolina.
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