Description: This area includes a 38,000-acre lake with over 100 islands, 540 miles of shoreline, 10 marinas, 70 recreation areas and many miles of the Chestatee and Chattahoochee rivers located in the upper piedmont region of the State at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surrounding the lake are forests of southern red oak, hickory, sweetgum, tuliptree, loblolly pine and Virginia pine. During spring and summer the shorelines are a profusion of color provided by flowering dogwood, azalea, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and holly. Although this is the busiest recreation lake administered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, it is easy to find a quiet spot for wildlife viewing on one of many islands or along the shore.
Viewing Information: With its burst of color and abundance of migrating songbirds, spring is the best time for wildlife viewing. Look overhead for soaring bald eagles, which are regular visitors to the lake. Canada geese, great blue herons, green-backed herons, kingfishers and ospreys are common during the summer.
The forest surrounding the lake is a refuge for squirrels, rabbits, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys. The Chattahoochee below Buford Dam offers an excellent opportunity for solitude and viewing elusive wildlife. Laurel Ridge Nature Trail winds 4 miles along the lake, dam and Chattahoochee River below the dam. Numerous viewing stations and interpreted points of interest are found on this trail. Many visitors come to the lake to fish for striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, and trout.
Directions: From Atlanta, follow I-85 north to I-985, then follow the signs.
Management: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 770-945-9531
Closest Town: Gainesville, GA
Site Notes: tours, interpretive programs
Additional Information: The Department of Natural Resources operates a trout hatchery near the dam where visitors can see and learn about trout and their habitats. Excellent trout fishing is available in the Chattahoochee River.
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