• Melanie Ernst

10 Amazing Swimming Holes in Georgia

While these are not what I consider "swimming holes" in the traditional sense, they are great places for swimming. Can't wait to try out some of these.

1. Lake Allatoona - Take a dip in the cool water of Lake Allatoona or just sit in solitude and enjoy the beauty of the lake! It is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, located in northwestern metro Atlanta. The lake is mostly in southwestern Cherokee County, but a significant part is in southeastern Bartow County, and a small part in Cobb County near Acworth. Cartersville is the nearest large town to Allatoona Dam. Red Top Mountain State Park is located on its shores, on the peninsula between the Etowah and Allatoona arms of the lake. Most of the north side of the lake remains protected from land development because of its isolated location, mostly blocked by the lake.

2. Lake Lanier - Lake Lanier is a favorite among locals. There you can engage in water sports such as boating, fishing, and swimming. Lake Lanier (officially Lake Sidney Lanier) is a reservoir in the northern portion of Georgia. It was created by the completion of Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River in 1956, and is also fed by the waters of the Chestatee River. The lake encompasses 38,000 acres or 59 square miles of water, and 692 miles of shoreline at normal level, a "full summer pool" of 1,071 feet above mean sea level. It was named for poet Sidney Lanier, and was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is patrolled by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR). The lake is in Hall, Forsyth, Dawson, Gwinnett, and Lumpkin counties

3. Lake Fort Mountain - This is a 17 acre mountain lake inside of Lake Fort Mountain State Park which is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Murray County, Georgia. Ellijay is the nearest city. The state park derived its name from an ancient 885 foot long rock wall located on the peak. Along with the lake for swimming, the park includes other amenities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

4. Lake Chatuge - Lake Chatuge is a TVA lake with 132 miles of shoreline, perfect for boating, fishing, skiing, swimming, picnicking in secluded coves and camping. There are many public boat ramps that offer easy access to all water sports. A swimming beach, playgrounds and numerous picnic tables are also provided at the Towns County Recreational Beach. Many of the campgrounds are located on the scenic lake shore, and other campgrounds offer more private settings. The closest town to the lake is Hiawassee.

5. Unicoi Lake - If you can't make it to the beach this summer, try out the man made one at Unicoi Lake. The kids can still play in the sand and soak up some sun! The 44 acre Smith Lake, which is often called Unicoi Lake, is the centerpiece of Unicoi State Park. The lake not only provides opportunities for swimming and fishing, it also adds another beautiful element to the scenic forest landscape of the north Georgia mountains. This aesthetic aspect of the lake is readily apparent when you drive over the causeway on GA 356. It can be appreciated even more while walking the trail that goes around the lake or by spending time at a number of places in Unicoi State Park where you can access the lake's shoreline. You'll find the lake in the mountains near Helen.

6. Tybee Island - Even though the Atlantic Ocean is not so much a "swimming hole", Tybee Island is a great place to take a dip and enjoy some summer sun. It is an island in Chatham County, Georgia, near Savannah. The name Tybee Island is also used for the city located on part of this island. The island is the easternmost point in the state of Georgia. The famous phrase "From Rabun Gap to Tybee Light," meant to illustrate the geographic diversity of Georgia, contrasts a mountain pass near the state's northernmost point with the coastal island's famous lighthouse.

7. Lake Thurmond - If you want some peace and quiet, you must visit Lake Thurmond. Lake Strom Thurmond, also known as Clarks Hill Lake, is a reservoir at the border between Georgia and South Carolina in the Savannah River Basin. It was created by the J. Strom Thurmond Dam during 1951 and 1952 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near the confluence of the "Little River" and the Savannah River. At 71,000 acres (290 km2), it is the third-largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River, behind the Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River and Lake Marion on the Santee River. The J. Strom Thurmond Dam is located upstream from Augusta, Georgia. The Thurmond Lake and Dam is one of the southeast's largest and most popular public recreation lakes

8. Main Lake at Reed Bingham State Park - Get out and do some fishing on the lake, but make sure to watch our for gators! (So, if there's gators, is this really a "swimming hole"?) Main Lake is a 375-acre lake that is popular with boaters and skiers, and fishing for bass, crappie, catfish and bream is excellent. Paddlers can rent canoes and kayaks to explore this beautiful lake lined with fragrant water lilies and tupelo trees. Guided pontoon boat tours are sometimes offered during events. The beachside pavilion, picnic shelters and group shelters are scenic spots for parties, reunions and other celebrations. Reed Bingham is less than six miles from I-75, making it a relaxing stop for travelers. It was named for Amos Reed Bingham who was instrumental in having the park established. Adel is the closest town.

9. Chattahoochee River - The Chattahoochee River forms the southern half of the Alabama and Georgia border, as well as a portion of the Florida border. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers and emptying from Florida into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The Chattahoochee River is about 430 miles long. The Chattahoochee, Flint, and Apalachicola rivers together make up the Apalachiacola–Chattahoochee–Flint River Basin (ACF River Basin). The source of the Chattahoochee River is located in Jacks Gap at the southeastern foot of Jacks Knob, in the very southeastern corner of Union County, in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains. Its headwaters flow south from ridges that form the Tennessee Valley Divide. The Appalachian Trail crosses the river's uppermost headwaters. The Chattahoochee's source and upper course lies within Chattahoochee National Forest. From its source in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Chattahoochee River flows southwesterly to Atlanta and through its suburbs. It eventually turns due south to form the southern half of the Georgia/Alabama state line. Flowing through a series of reservoirs and artificial lakes, it flows by Columbus, the second-largest city in Georgia, and the Fort Benning Army base. At Columbus, it crosses the Fall Line of the eastern United States. From Lake Oliver to Fort Benning, the Chattahoochee Riverwalk provides cycling, rollerblading, and walking along 15 miles of the river's banks. Farther south, it merges with the Flint River and other tributaries at Lake Seminole near Bainbridge, to form the Apalachicola River that flows into the Florida Panhandle. Although the same river, this portion was given a different name by separated settlers in different regions during the colonial times.

10. Tallulah Gorge - If you want to experience a "natural water slide" go to Tallalulah Gorge where swimmers can play on the sliding rocks. Make sure to obtain a free permit first. One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks, or they can obtain a permit to hike to the gorge floor (100 per day, not available during water releases). A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda. A paved path follows an old railroad bed, perfect for strollers and bicycles, while mountain bikers can test their skills on a challenging 10-mile trail. CLIMBING/FALCON NOTICE: Tallulah Gorge is temporarily closed to rock climbing in anticipation of nesting Peregrine Falcons. Climbing is expected to resume this June. You'll find the park near the town of Tallulah Falls.

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