Lake Burton was one of the first lakes in the United States created specifically for power generation. When the dam at the east end of the lake was built in 1913, more than 2,700 acres of lake were created in Rabun and Burton counties to harness the Tallulah River. During that time, John LaPrade purchased 600 acres of land along the future lakeshore and constructed a camp to house and feed the lake’s engineers and workers.
When the lake was completed and filled in 1925, LaPrade’s became an excellent fishing retreat, and eventually evolved into a rustic mountain resort where Georgia families traditionally come to enjoy fresh mountain air, quiet picturesque surroundings and good home cooking away from crowded and noisy cities. Rustic cabins were also available, but they had no phone or TV. As a cabin guest, three meals were included for about the cost of an ordinary budget motel without food. The spotless cabins were left over from the construction crews, and included the basics like bathroom, screened porch, quilts, homemade furniture, linoleum-covered floors but no kitchens.
Only aging remnants remain of the original LaPrade’s, but many of us old-timers miss the ancient restaurant and cabins. However, the new LaPrade’s Marina (www.lapradesmarina.com) facility and restaurant on the water is modern and beautiful, and just one of the many attractions at Lake Burton today.
The most popular area on the lake is Moccasin Creek State Park (www.gastateparks.org/moccasincreek), which is located about 20 miles north of Clarkesville on Georgia Highway 197 where Moccasin Creek empties into Lake Burton. This park is mainly designed for family camping and fishing and especially caters to the less than 11 and over 65 year-olds. In fact, the section of Moccasin Creek that runs through the campground can only be fished by the younger and older anglers, and is heavily stocked with trout for that reason.
Across the highway from the hatchery is a very scenic nature trail that leads to the beautiful Hemlock Falls. It is a fairly easy walk of more than a mile, but has numerous slippery areas where small springs cross the path.
For family fun, Burton offers great fishing for several different species including spotted, largemouth and white bass. In addition, one can catch crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, chain pickerel and walleyes. In the last few years, the lake has become known as Georgia’s only trout lake. A continuous flow of cold water from the surrounding mountain slopes allows the reservoir to maintain acceptable water temperatures for trout all year long.
Fishing can also be outstanding up in the Tallulah River arm of Lake Burton or at the mouth of any of the feeder streams. Besides the great fishing, Burton has much more to offer visitors and their families. For many Georgians, the area conjures up memories of catching wild trout from the picturesque pools of its tributaries like Wildcat, Dicks and Moccasin Creeks, or simply boating on Burton’s calm, blue-green waters while enjoying the magnificent scenery. Though slightly off the beaten path, this historic lake has become a nearby destination for many Georgia families.
Photos in video: by Bill Vanderford
Video: Lakeside News