Introduction

Lake Nottely in Blairsville, GA, is one of the area’s most popular places to soak up the sun and enjoy the endless lake activities of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Nottely, fondly known as North Georgia’s hidden gem, is home to some of the best fishing spots, glistening waters, and scenic views the North Georgia/Western Carolina region has to offer. With a surface area of over 4,000 acres and a shoreline of 106 miles, there is no better place in Union County, GA to enjoy lake life and beautiful views than Lake Nottely.

History of Lake Nottely

Lake Nottely, like many of the other reservoirs in the area, originated as a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Project. Named after the Cherokee village of Naduhli that once existed in the same area, the Nottely River’s location in the Hiwassee Watershed greatly contributed to the problem of flooding the North Georgia and Eastern Tennessee areas experienced prior to TVA's interception. The construction of the Hiwassee Dam on the Nottely River was the TVA's answer to this problem. The Hiwassee Dam was completed in 1940 and has helped to faithfully maintain the watershed in surrounding areas ever since. 

Following the construction of the Hiwassee Dam, Nottely once again entered TVA planning discussions due to the increasing needs of World War II. World War II created a need for extra aluminum, but the war effort needed aluminum more quickly than current production times allowed. Nottley’s capacity to push water downstream to the Hiwassee Dam helped answer the problem of faster production. The addition of a new dam would further harness the water’s power, generating more extensive electrical influence. Greater access to electricity meant better power for aluminum production, which answered the supply and demand issue of aluminum for the war effort in East Tennessee. This realization led to TVA’s construction of Nottely Dam. The dam was completed in 1942 and remains an indispensable part of Blairsville, GA to this day. 

Although it ultimately helped to bolster the economy in the local area, building Nottely Dam meant that 91 families in Union County, GA would lose possession of their homes and farmlands. These families were relocated to surrounding areas and were treated well overall by the TVA. Adding a generator to the existing Nottely Dam structure in the 1950s further increased the dam’s positive contribution to the local area. These additions and reinforcements to the dam generated electricity to residents and businesses in Blairsville, GA, and helped protect their water supply and homes by storing and regulating floodwaters. It also added to the area’s growth, economic development and tourism industry as many visitors to the area enjoy the recreational activities built around the Nottely reservoir. Families are encouraged to enjoy all that Nottley offers, and this is reinforced by the TVA’s continued involvement. Thanks to the TVA, regular upkeep of the area keeps Nottely accessible for leisure and recreation throughout the year. 

Visitors and locals of Blairsville, Hiawassee and Young Harris, GA are all welcomed to experience the beauty and amenities of Lake Nottely. Located just over the Western North Carolina border, and only two hours from metropolitan areas like Atlanta and Chattanooga, Lake Nottely is a welcome respite to those fortunate enough to visit or live in this area. Whether you are a local enjoying a weekend on the lake or a traveler seeking solace from the city, Nottely caters to every interest. 

Nottely Dam Reservoir Trail offers pathways for hikers, bikers and walkers, as well as multiple camping sites, and a beautiful beach for swimming. Boaters, fishermen, campers, kayakers, canoers or paddle boarders all have a place at Lake Nottely, too. 

The reservoir also makes a perfect stopping point for the adventurous Appalachian Trial hikers as the AT passes through Union County just a few miles away from Lake Nottely's shores. 

For the less adventurous, there are still several recreational options available. Pavilions can be rented to celebrate birthday parties, family reunions or any other event, and plans are underway to continue developing the area for local enjoyment. Because of this, it is not uncommon to see work crews around the area. Maintenance and improvements of the existing picnic areas, trailways, and playgrounds are all handled by the TVA who provides upkeep of the grounds as a service to the local community. 

If you are planning to visit Blairsville, GA, Hiawassee, GA, or any of the other surrounding areas in the North Georgia or Western Carolina mountains, add Lake Nottely to your list of “must-see” activities in the area. The scenic views, relaxing waters and family picnic and playground areas of Nottely Reservoir do not disappoint, while the local communities provide a laid back Southern welcome to tourists. If that weren’t enough, your entire stay will be complemented by endless views of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Where to Stay and Play on Lake Nottely 

The Blairsville area boasts several places to stay and play on Lake Nottely. There are many free activities to enjoy, and the availability for water sports and recreational access are endless. Whether you choose to take a walk along one of the pathways, enjoy a festival, take the boat out for a spin or enjoy an afternoon of kayaking, Lake Nottely offers something for everyone. A few resources that are available in the local area are listed below for your convenience: 

  • North Georgia Watersports– water sport rentals, lodging, a water blob and guided fishing tours
  • Poteete Creek Campground– campsites, recreation area with boat ramp, picnic tables, pavilion, swimming beach, fishing areas, restrooms and a bath house with showers. (Poteete Creek Campground requires a $5.00 parking pass for use of the boat ramp and beach area. For additional information, you are advised to call (706) 439-6103.)
  • Meeks Park– picnic areas, walking/biking trails, pavilions, playgrounds, tennis courts, batting cages, a skateboard park, pool and splash pad, as well as a small waterside exercise area with equipment. Meeks Park is also known to host seasonal events and festivals throughout the year. Be sure to check their calendar while you are visiting to enjoy those activities as well.