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High Falls Lake is a beautiful 650-acre lake hidden in the dense pine woods of Monroe County, Georgia. Located between the cities of Macon and Atlanta, adjoining High Falls State Park and its unique rocky landscape provide a perfect setting for fishing, camping, boating and hiking.
The main attraction of 1,050-acre High Falls State Park is a breathtaking, rock-strewn waterfall created by the Towaliga River as it spills down the steep banks of the riverbed. In the early 1800s, two small dams were built across the Towaligia Falls and the rushing water was used to provide energy for farmers to grind wheat and corn. Sawmills and gristmills soon followed, turning the area into a prospering industrial town. When a major railroad bypassed the area, High Falls became a ghost town and the industry vanished. Around the turn of the century, the Towaligia Falls Power Company built a large single dam across the Towaligia Falls. The resulting flooding created High Falls Lake. In 1905, the Georgia Hydro-Electric Company purchased the dam and powerhouse and made it operational. In 1930, ownership was transferred to the Georgia Power Company which later closed the plant and sold the property to a lumber company. Eventually the land and plant were donated to the Georgia Game and Fish Commission, which turned it over to the State Parks Department.
High Falls Lake is rated as one of the best largemouth bass-fishing lakes in the state. The crystal-clear water is also home for channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, striped bass and bream. Bluegill and redear (shellcracker) are also plentiful in the shallow areas. Both striped bass and hybrids were stocked in the lake until 2006. Since then, only striper stocking has continued to support a state-wide effort to reestablish the native striped bass into the watershed. A large fishing dock on the lake is a great way to introduce children to the sport of fishing. Note: Although most fish taken from Georgia lakes and streams are safe to eat, refer to the Georgia Consumption Guidelines (link below) before eating fish caught from any Georgia waterway.
There are two boat ramps for access onto High Falls Lake. Horsepower is limited to 10, making the lake's calm surface a paddler's paradise. A campground, picnic areas, canoe, kayak rentals, and paddleboat rentals are also available. Swimming in the lake and river is not allowed, but a large pool is available for park visitors wishing to take a refreshing dip. Other park recreation includes a miniature golf course, a gift store, a campground for tent and RV camping, picnic shelters, seasonal programs, lake tours, and a summer camp for kids. Vacation rentals and real estate can be found in the small towns surrounding High Falls Lake.
For outdoor enthusiasts and bird watchers, 4.5 miles of hiking trails loop through the lush woods surrounding High Falls Lake. One of the park's biggest draws is its abundance of flora, native birds, and wildlife. History buffs may want to hike to the site of an old grist mill. Many of the trails lead to various ruins and dam structures dating back to the 1800s. There are also several river overlooks that offer a panoramic view of the falls.
Additional outdoor recreation can be found at 528-acre Indian Springs State Park, a short drive from High Falls Lake. Indian Springs is said to be the oldest state park in the nation. It was acquired by the state of Georgia in 1825 and became an official "State Forest Park" in 1927. The Creek Indians used the springs to heal the ill. During the 1800s, the area was a bustling resort town. Today, visitors can still sample the spring water while enjoying the park's cottages, camping, swimming, hiking, fishing and boating.
Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge and Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area located southeast of High Falls Lake. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge covers 35,000 acres of predominantly loblolly pine and hardwood trees. Clear streams and beaver ponds provide an ideal wetland habitat for migrating waterfowl. The refuge is home to a number of birds including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. There are several walking trails through the refuge as well as a self-guided wildlife drive. Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area is a 5,739-acre area open to hunting, fishing, boating, hiking and camping. Lake Juliette, a 3,600-acre body of water located within the area, was built to provide water to one of the nation's largest coal-fired power plants. Along with anglers and boaters, the lake attracts a number of birds such as osprey and grebes.
Also of interest to wildlife lovers will be the Oconee National Forest, east of High Falls Lake. Oconee covers 114,641 acres and includes a waterfowl conservation project to protect waterfowl and wading birds, as well as other birds and wildlife. A viewing deck provides an opportunity to observe the progress of the project. Lake Sinclair, located within the forest, offers camping opportunities along with swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and, of course, relaxation.
Children of all ages will enjoy the Dauset Trails Nature Center located in the town of Jackson, just northeast of High Falls Lake. The nature center has an animal rehabilitation center, fish-feeding pond, hiking and equestrian trails, and a number of wildlife exhibits.
The historic town of McDonough, established in 1823, is 20 miles north of High Falls Lake. Offering unique shops, antiques and both casual and fine dining, this town is definitely worth a visit. Its nationally recognized Main Street area features a 1920s prototype service station as a welcome center.
With its incredible scenery, High Falls Lake and State Park has a wide variety of recreational activities designed to attract even the most experienced of outdoor souls. From hiking trails which meander through gorgeous wooded areas to fishing and even a boat launch, there's never a shortage of things to do at and near High Falls Lake.
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