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Hiwasse Lake, GA

  • 3125

Nestled in the rural mountains of western North Carolina, Lake Hiwassee is surrounded by the thick wilderness of the Nantahala National Forest, offering breathtaking scenery as far as the eye can see. Primarily fed by the Hiwassee, Nottely, and Valley rivers, Lake Hiwassee sprawl for roughly 6,090 acres with about 180 miles of shoreline, and is 22 miles in length and more than 200 feet deep in places. The lake was formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) when it constructed the Hiwassee Dam on the Hiwassee River in 1940 for flood control and hydroelectric power. Lake Hiwassee feeds into Appalachia Lake and its shoreline is largely undeveloped and is managed by the National Forest Service, with the lone residential development being the Bear Paw community, a year-round gated community with a few residential lakeside homes.


The word "Hiwassee" means "savannah" or "meadow" and has its origin in the Cherokee word, "Ayuhwasi." For thousands of years, the Native American Cherokee tribe lived in the Hiwassee area before being forcibly removed by government troops in the early 1800s. As one in the Chain of Lakes, Lake Hiwassee is known for having the largest overspill dam in the United States.  Unique in many respects, the lake does not freeze in the winter, and the deep water of the lake is consistently cold. The water levels of Lake Hiwassee are controlled by the TVA,  with lower water levels in the winter and maximum level during the summer months.


Lake Hiwassee host a variety of endangered wildlife, including three types of endangered mussels- the knotty elimia, Tennessee heelsplitter and Tennessee clubshell, and a rare variety of sucker fish-sicklefin red, and the bog turtle, one of the rarest turtles in North America. The Hiwassee Lake region is a rich habitat for deer, bears, bobcats, coyote, fox, bald eagles, otters and wild turkey, as well as all year-round birds, including itmouses, bluebirds, house finches, wrens and chickadees.


Anglers can explore the shoreline for a variety of fish, such as black, spotted and striped bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, along with walleye, yellow perch, bluegill and muskie fish. For nature lovers and outdoorsy types, boating, canoeing, kayaking and various water sports, as well as camping, picnicking and touring the peaceful mountain landscape on scenic hiking trails, are all activities that can be enjoyed on Lake Hiwassee and its neighboring habitats.

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