A Water Wonderland
Tucked away amid north Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains lies Blue Ridge Dam and the sparkling reservoir it creates on the Toccoa River—an oasis for adventure seekers and leisure lovers alike.
Near Blue Ridge, Ga., tucked away among quaint mountain towns and sparkling waters, is TVA’s Blue Ridge Dam. With 80 percent of its shoreline part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, the scenic Blue Ridge reservoir and the Tocoa River that flows into it provide an oasis for picnickers, fishermen, and the adventure seeker. And, as an extension of the Ocoee, the Toccoa is a tubing, kayaking and canoeing destination.
Construction of Blue Ridge Dam began in 1925 by the Toccoa Electric Power Company, a subsidiary of the Tennessee Electric Power Company (TEPCo), which was acquired by TVA in 1939.. Tucked away near the confluence of the Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina state lines, the dam and reservoir are set among the lush mountains of Appalachia. Much of the pristine setting is protected from overdevelopment as part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
When the dam went into service on July 1, 1931, Blue Ridge was the most modern hydroelectric power production facility in the TEPCo system and the largest earthen dam in the Southeast. The generator and electrical equipment in the powerhouse were predominantly automatic and required a limited number of attendants. Making use of the ridges and hills surrounding the plant, the spillway was built in a conveniently located saddle, between two hills adjacent to the dam.
The Water is the Draw
Today, Blue Ridge is a destination thanks to its TVA-managed waters. While the town’s waters have drawn visitors for more than a century, it was once in a very different way. Blue Ridge was formerly considered an elite health resort thanks to its pure mineral waters. Tourists flocked to the railroad town seeking a respite among the restoring, rejuvenating mineral springs—the mountainous region was even dubbed "Switzerland of the South."
Today, though, Blue Ridge’s waters are known for their relaxing, gentle flow rather than their potion-production. The Toccoa River is actually the headwaters of the famous Ocoee—the name just changes when it crosses the Tennessee state line into the Peach State. On any given summer day you can find a kaleidoscope of inner tubes, kayaks and canoes floating down the Toccoa, which has TVA-controlled releases.
A Fishing Mecca
The crystal-clear waters of Blue Ridge Reservoir aren’t only ideal for floating. Fishing is a major attraction thanks to the 3,290-acre reservoir, which is famous for is population of walleye, large and small mouth bass, brim, catfish, trout and more. The town of Blue Ridge is even hailed as the state of Georgia’s trout capital.
The Toccoa River is stocked with trout above Blue Ridge Dam every other week during trout season, which runs from late March to October. Experienced anglers will tell you the Toccoa has a split personality when it comes to trout fishing, thanks to the Blue Ridge Reservoir, which interrupts the river’s flow.
According to Game & Fish Magazine, the lake is what gives the river its two different vibes. “Above the impoundment, the Toccoa resembles a typical North Georgia trout stream, albeit a large one. Below the lake, Blue Ridge Dam regulates the river’s flow. The result is a typical tailwater fishery characterized by water more easily floated than waded, and rapid water level changes that dramatically affect the fishing.”
Whether fly fishing, bait fishing or float fishing, the river pretty much guarantees you’ll land more than a catch or two. But, if fishing isn’t your thing, you can always visit consider camping, boating or even sunbathing with the pristine mountain-studded lake as your backdrop.