Up in the Cohuttas Mountains, which embody part of Fannin County where I live, the forest is known as one of the oldest forests in the United States. It once was part of a pre-historic ocean. This blows my mind. But I have to say, in this forest, I never feel alone. This forest is charmed; for real.
Lake Conasaugua, which is the highest elevated lake in the State of Georgia, used to be accessible from Fannin County on FS 64, but a washed-out road has proven to be a real headache for the Forest Service and repairing it is not in the near future, so I now have to travel down to Gilmer County (Ellijay) and access the Cohuttas by way of Gates Chapel Road to the end, where you pick up the dirt/gravel Conasagua Road, which then changes names to Potato Patch as you travel up.
Traveling up to the lake you will pass Barnes Creek Falls to the right, which is a nice picnic area waterfall not requiring any hike, just pull off in that parking area, and you’ve got a beautiful waterfall, with quite a drop to look at.
As you keep on going, you quickly come to a pull-off vista overlook, where on a clear day, can see Dalton to the right and Blue Ridge to the left. As you incline this road, you’ll notice, it’s slow going! It’s free of a lot of potholes and ruts but has lots of larger-sized gravel laid on this road, which makes it so hard to get any real traction with your tires. My little car has to go slow and steady up this road, so it can definitely take you some real time to get there. We like to call them “mountain miles”.
But just when you thought you might never arrive, you’ll pass the parking area to the right for the Chestnut Lead Trail, you will soon be passing the turnoffs for the two camping areas, and then the turn for the lake day use area. This is a fee area – requiring a payment envelope (provided) in your window and $3.
The lake has lots of camping spots, covered picnic shelters, facilities, parking and a great one mile hike around the lake. The hike is flat and easy for anyone. In the past, this lake had a slight beaver issue, and on certain parts of the lake you could see large areas where beavers had made their mark. I did not see it so much this time up there (May 2017). Maybe one spot showed signs, but nothing like it was. I also remember years ago seeing lots of wild boar up here and signs of rooting from lots of wild pigs. I also did not see that this time, although I hear the wild pig population does still exist up there, so if you decide to camp, I can tell you from first hand experience to put your food in a sealed container in your trunk or up in a tree. Don’t leave open food out, and clean up the camp before retiring to your tent for the night.
Lake Conasagua doesn’t have a beach area, but you can swim in the lake. You can also use non-motorized boats. It’s a small lake, but on a hot summer day, it’s refreshing and clean mountain lake to enjoy.
A Map to the Area: