This lake always, always freaks me out. I think it is because I know how deep it its. When I was in college, Georgia Power decided to do maintenance on the dam that holds the lake back into Tallulah Gorge. The water level was taken down over 80 feel and there was plenty of lake left to go. Yikes!
It is the fourth in a series of a six lake series that provide electric power to Georgia. Tallulah Falls Lake was formed in 1914 with the completion of the Tallulah Falls Dam, a concrete dam with diversion tunnel. “The diversion tunnel is 11 feet (3.4 m) wide, 14 feet (4.3 m) high, and 6,666 feet (2,032 m) long and was tunneled through solid rock and then lined with concrete. The dam is 126 feet high and has a span of 426 feet (130 m). The Tallulah Falls Hydroelectric Plant is located 608 feet lower than the dam at the lower end of the tunnel and has a generation capacity of 72,000 kilowatts!”
For many years, a complete lack of improved access allowed little Tallulah Lake to stay in the shadow of its larger companion lakes like Lake Rabun, Burton, Seed and Tugalo. We have paddled all of these easily. My little water Nikon (camera) did pretty good again. Just lots of green water this time. I never know what color the water in this lake will be. It really depends on the sky and the sun’s reflection—or maybe the depth of water! See I scare myself with posts like this!
Tallulah Lake provides a very fun paddle with some historic points along the way. It’s my “once a year scary” paddle, and I even managed to freak myself out beneath one of the old 1915 bridges that span the lake.
It is located basically at extreme upper end of Tallulah Gorge, a chasm two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. Tallulah Lake is the oldest of Georgia Power’s chain of north Georgia hydropower developments and when you are paddling on it, you suddenly know that you are paddling in a very historic environment. There are plenty of paddle boarders and kayakers on this lake. So you are never alone.
Then comes the paddle to the power plant at the north end of the lake and a “total freak out” moment. Paddling near these plants always bring feelings of awe for me. We were very glad the power plant did not start pushing out water while we were near it.
So here is the view! The bridge in the background was the one we were under earlier. The piers were built to carry an old steam engine over the lake. “Tallulah Gorge had been a place of awe to the Cherokee who ruled the region prior to the arrival of European settlers. The thousand foot deep gash in the earth where the Tallulah River rushes toward its confluence with the Tugaloo River is the deepest canyon in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. According to a Cherokee legend reported by an early explorer, the gorge was inhabited by a mysterious hostile race of ‘little people’. They supposedly trick or abduct hapless trespassers into falling to their deaths, or drowning in the raging river at the bottom. Approaching Tallulah Falls from the south, the railroad actually skirted the southern rim of the gorge for a short distance.” Okay, I’m not going to think about all of that or where I was paddling on Saturday!
There’s plenty of rocks that provide places to stop off to jump into this lake! It is a very fun paddle. Just know that these rocks are like the ones in the gorge and there’s plenty of space between them and the bottom of this lake.