Hike along the banks of gorgeous Lake Chatuge, catching beautiful lake and mountain views on this short but scenic trail near Hiawassee, GA.
PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list
Surrounded by rugged mountains, Lake Chatuge offers a picture-perfect setting for an outdoor adventure in North Georgia. Spanning the border of Georgia and North Carolina, Lake Chatuge’s 7,000+ acres provide outstanding opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, and other on-water fun. And the surrounding mountains are home to several of the tallest mountains in Georgia, which offer outstanding views and fresh mountain breezes.
Nestled on the lake’s forested banks near Hiawassee, the Lake Chatuge Recreation Area offers a one-mile trail that explores a scenic pine and hardwood forest. This relatively-level loop explores the contours of a small peninsula, catching beautiful views of the lake’s shoreline and the surrounding weathered peaks of the southern Appalachians. It’s a great trail for a shady afternoon hike, a leisurely trail run, or a chance for a swim in the lake for a water-loving pup.
Chatuge Trail: the hike
The hike begins at a signed trailhead just north of the boat launch in the Lake Chatuge Recreation Area (view maps and driving directions), diving into a shady forest alongside the lake. Following lakeshore, the root-filled trail winds between tall pine and hardwood trees, offering views of rippling water and lakeside homes across the narrow inlet.
The well-defined single track trail arcs to the northeast, revealing through-the-tree views of the lake with a stunning backdrop of towering mountains.
In warm weather months, the lively sound of boaters, skiers, and kayakers can be heard echoing across the water as locals and vacationers enjoy lake life.
As the trail weaves in and out of several small coves, watch for fish basking in the sun. The shore drops away steeply in some areas creating deep pockets of clear water, making fish easy to spot as they rest in the sunny shallows.
The trail continues its loop, heading southbound through the forest and following the gentle curves and bends of the peninsula. Wildflowers and wispy grasses line the trail in warm-weather months, providing pops of color and vibrant greens on the forest floor.
At just under 3/4 of a mile, the forest thins and the trail enters a small clearing. A short side trail leads to a grassy point at the lake’s edge, offering wide views of a narrow inlet, rolling mountains, and a marina across the cove.
Departing the point, the trail loops westbound, following a final stretch along the lakeshore. Several side paths make a short trek to the water, the perfect spot for fishermen to take advantage of the abundant species of fish that inhabit the lake.
At just under a mile, the trail intersects the paved road leading to the parking lot, crossing the road and following it northbound to the trailhead. The hike completes at one mile, ending the adventure – or, as our trail-loving dog Jake usually begs for, makes another loop or two for some extra mileage.
After the adventure
After catching gorgeous views of Lake Chatuge and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, head into downtown Hiawassee and say hi to the Atlanta Trails crew at our new hiking outfitter store, Trailful Outdoor Co. Our shop features a wall full of free local trail info featuring our Hiawassee-area favorites, and carry a wide selection of our favorite hiking and backpacking gear and apparel. We also carry a collection of locally-made outdoorsy good and gifts. We’d love the chance to say hello in person!
More hiking adventures near Hiawassee
Not ready to end the fun? Hike to the summit of nearby Brasstown Bald to catch outstanding 360-degree views from our state’s tallest mountain. Hike to a stunning duo of waterfalls set in a lush creek valley at High Shoals Falls. For a more challenging adventure and a dose of exceptional North Georgia beauty, hike a 5-mile round trip on the Appalachian Trail from Dicks Creek Gap to Powell Mountain to score beautiful summit views of nearby Lake Burton. Or check out the full list of our favorite hikes near Hiawassee for even more nearby adventures.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
34.953567, -83.781433 // N34 57.214 W83 46.886