Seeping from a small patch of sand and gravel, the Chattahoochee River begins as a trickling spring on the south slope of Jacks Knob about 100 yards south of the Chattahoochee Gap on the Appalachian Trail at 3,200 ft. above sea level. The Chattahoochee Spring quickly joins with many other springs and tributaries as it flows down the steep mountainside. With cascades and crashing waterfalls, the crystal clear water of the Chattahoochee River leaves the Appalachian Mountains, enters the coastal plain of North Georgia and flows to Atlanta through its suburbs. After Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River flows past Columbus and merges with the Flint River to form the Florida Panhandle’s Apalachicola River.
With such a high volume of water flowing out of the North Georgia Mountains, the Chattahoochee River has historically overflowed its banks during heavy rains and caused severe damage. In the early 1900’s, residents of the town of West Point were so accustomed to flooding that the town raised the wooden sidewalks 5 ft. above street level. In 1953, the U.S. Congress authorized the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Project to construct 4 dams on the Chattahoochee River for flood control and hydroelectric power generation.
The Buford Dam was the first dam constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Chattahoochee River dam building project. The Buford Dam bridged the Chattahoochee River betwen Cumming and Gainesville in North Georgia and created Lake Lanier. The Walter F. George Lock and Dam created Walter F. George Lake near Eufaula and Cuthert, Georgia. The George W. Andrews Lock and Dam created Lake George W. Andrews near Columbia, Alabama, and the Jim Woodruff Dam created Lake Seminole in Chattahoochee, Florida.
The Chattahoochee River at Lake Lanier is a source of drinking water for the City of Atlanta and Lake Lanier is also a major recreational resource. Before Buford Dam, the region consisted of gently rolling and forested countryside interspersed with valleys. Blocking the Chattahoochee River with Buford Dam filled up the valleys and created a gorgeous 38,000 acre lake with 692 miles of thickly forested shoreline. Lake Lanier has evolved into a resort area that attracts 7.5 million visitors annually with a wide variety of available recreational activities such as camping, fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking and sightseeing.
In 1962 the Georgia State Legislature established the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority to manage and develop Lake Lanier as a recreational resort for the citizens of Georgia. Lake Lanier Islands Resort has become Georgia’s most visited lakeside resort and it is well on its way to becoming Georgia’s first all inclusive, comprehensive resort destination. Future development plans include opening more islands in Lake Lanier for public enjoyment, building a family oriented hotel on Georgia Island with a gateway bridge connecting to Legacy Island, and building a beach club with restaurants, swimming pools, hillside cottages, golf side villas and luxury guest villas on Pine Island.
Real estate in areas near the Chattahoochee River
Residential development on the shoreline of the Chattahoochee River is allowed where zoned for development by the cities through which the river flows. In the areas where development has been allowed, property values are almost as high as they are on Georgia’s Atlantic Ocean shoreline. However, the cost of living index in North Georgia near the Chattahoochee River is approximately 90% of the national cost of living index and the average population density is comparatively low at just under 1,000 people per square mile. Many homes with large properties on the Chattahoochee River are worth several million dollars and undeveloped land lots that are already zoned for development are highly prized.
Luxurious lodgings near the Chattahoochee River are available at the PineIsle Resort and Golf Club, a part of the Lake Lanier Islands Resort. The PineIsle Resort has 254 elegant guest rooms, two restaurants, outdoor and indoor heated pools, a full service marina, 7 enclosed and lighted tennis courts, and the famous 18-hole championship golf course that was designed by Gary Player. The PineIsle Resort also contains the Chattahoochee Rapids Beach & WaterPark with Wild Waves, Georgia’s largest wave pool, and offers houseboat rentals, horseback riding and many other fun activities for children and adults.
The luxurious Legacy Lodge & Conference Center at Lake Lanier Islands Resort has 287 deluxe guestrooms, 30 New England style lakeside cottages, 6 executive villas, and two spectacular championship golf courses. For a more exciting aquatic lodging experience, the Resort’s Harbor Landing rents 14 newly renovated 53 ft. x 14 ft. houseboats and two 82 ft. x 16 ft. luxury houseboats that can accommodate up to 10 guests.
Visitors who enjoy camping among the wonders of nature can find several excellent campgrounds at Lake Lanier including Shady Grove Campground, a public facility run by the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department. Shady Grove Campground contains 110 campsites, a beach and swim area, a boat ramp with a courtesy dock, group campsites with picnic shelters, and a children’s playground.
Almost the entire length of the Chattahoochee River in North Georgia is a major source of recreation. Fishing, boating, canoeing, tubing, camping and hiking along its shores are all popular activities. Beginning at Buford Dam and continuing downstream for 48 miles through four counties to Peachtree Creek near downtown Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area provides outdoor recreation for more than 3 million visitors per year. The Chattahoochee National Recreation Area contains 16 park areas with numerous picnic areas, 50 miles of hiking trails, and rental facilities for canoes, kayaks and river rafts.