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9 Incredible Recreational Lakes near Columbus, GA

The choice of lakes around Columbus is rather diverse. There are river impoundments, county lakes, and swimming holes within state parks. Swimming, paddling, boating, and fishing are all possible here.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Columbus, GA

Columbus has access to a fantastic selection of lakes and reservoirs, most of which are just within an hour’s drive.

Lakes Oliver and Harding are excellent boating and fishing reservoirs. And Lakes Delanor and Chewacla are parts of state parks, making them a solid option for swimming, paddling, and family trips.

Whether you’re into wakeboarding, fishing, or lakeside camping, there are plenty of incredible options on the list.

Check out what Columbus has to offer!

Lakes near Columbus:

  1. Lake Oliver
  2. Chattahoochee River Reservoir
  3. Lake Harding
  4. Lee County Public Lake
  5. Walter F. George Reservoir
  6. Mountain Creek Lake
  7. Lake Delanor
  8. Lake Chewacla
  9. West Point Lake
Lakes near Columbus Georgia Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Oliver

Foggy Lake in Georgia
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Oliver
  • Distance from Columbus: 5 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake Oliver covers 2,150 surface acres of the Chattahoochee River, a short distance north of downtown Columbus. 

Shared by Georgia and Alabama, this section of the river includes nearly 40 acres of shoreline between the Goat Rock Dam on the north and the Oliver Dam and Generating Plant, located eight miles away. The construction of the latter dam by Georgia Power created this lake in 1959. 

Although the southern section of the lake includes urban settlements in Columbus and Phenix City, Alabama, this body of water and the sites alongside it offer opportunities for biking, hiking, kayaking, boating, paddleboarding, picnicking, and fishing. 

The City Marina of Columbus, located at the southern end of the lake, provides a popular site to launch boats. 

Just below the Goat Rock Dam, the Goat Rock Recreation Area on the Alabama side offers another launch, one usually less crowded.

Fishing is popular year-round, but marina parking lots and the lake fill more quickly during the summer. Anglers commonly catch spotted bass, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and warmouth. 

2. Chattahoochee River Reservoir

chattahoochee river reservoir columbus
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Chattahoochee River Reservoir
  • Distance from Columbus: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Rafting, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Chattahoochee River Reservoir is the section of the river immediately south of the Oliver Dam and continuing past the downtowns of Columbus and Phenix City. 

A great way to enjoy the waterfront in this urban landscape is along the Columbus Riverwalk, a linear park and trail spanning over 20 miles that includes great spots for fishing. A shorter 1.2-mile Phenix City Riverwalk offers views from the Alabama side. 

The Frank K. Martin Bridge, also known as the 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge, allows people to cross the river to enjoy recreation sites in the neighboring state. Fishing is permitted along portions of the riverfront. 

Two dams that once spanned the Chattahoochee River in this area were breached to restore natural water flow and create whitewater areas near the urban core. 

The 1907 City Mills Dam once connected the downtowns across the river until removed in March 2013; the 1882 Eagle and Phenix Dam, less than a mile downriver to the south, came down a year earlier. 

3. Lake Harding

Waterskiing on a lake on a summer day
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Lake Harding
  • Distance from Columbus: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A drive 20 miles north of Columbus leads to Lake Harding. Also known as Bartletts Ferry Lake, this 5,850-acre section of the Chattahoochee River is a reservoir north of Bartletts Ferry Dam, built in 1926. 

The largely rural character of the area promotes a variety of outdoor recreation activities that include swimming, canoeing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, boating, bird and nature watching, and fishing. 

With a shore length of 156 miles, those interested in boat fishing can select from numerous inlets, tributaries, and small islands to search for their daily catch. While traveling along the lake, anglers will also see wildlife that includes snapping turtles, beavers, and muskrats.

Great fishing spots are available throughout the lake. Top catches include black and white crappie, many varieties of bass, bluegill, sunfish, yellow perch, and channel catfish. 

4. Lee County Public Lake

  • Website: Lee County Lake
  • Distance from Columbus: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Picnics

A 25-mile drive west of Columbus, Lee County Public Fishing Lake offers a great destination to cast a line. Most recreation opportunities at this location focus on fishing and spending time on the 130-acre lake. 

Those who wish to visit other nearby destinations can easily visit Opelika, approximately seven miles to the northwest, or Auburn, nine miles to the west. 

A public fishing lake managed by the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, this body of water offers views of pines and forested habitats that attract numerous wading birds and songbirds, especially during migratory seasons. Ducks commonly found in and along the lake include bufflehead, redhead, canvasback, and ruddy ducks. 

Originally impounded in 1971, this lake has been a popular spot for those who live in east-central Alabama to fish, along with students from Auburn University. 

Fish often harvested from the lake include crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and redear sunfish. 

5. Walter F. George Reservoir

Lake Eufaula from Alabama Side
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Walter F. George Reservoir
  • Distance from Columbus: 42 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

An extensive impoundment south of Columbus, the Walter F. George Reservoir offers some of the best fishing, camping, and outdoor recreation experiences along the lower Chattahoochee River. 

Known also as Lake Eufaula, especially on the Alabama side, this 46,000-acre lake extends nearly 85 miles north from the Walter F. George Lock and Dam near Fort Gaines, Georgia. 

Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lakefront offers numerous places to launch into the water.

Established in 1964, the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 11,000 acres in both states. Alabama’s Lakefront State Park at the northern end of Eufaula includes 1,220 acres of recreation space. 

Two Georgia state parks provide outstanding lakefront access and activities. The 173-acre Florence Marina State Park includes a full array of boating resources, as well as cottages and campgrounds. 

A 39-mile drive to the southeast section of the lake brings visitors to the 700-acre George T. Bagby State Park, with its golf course, marina, recreation trails, and resort lodge.

While many species are found within the lake, the most popular catches in this area are blue catfish, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. 

6. Mountain Creek Lake

callaway resort georgia
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Mountain Creek Lake
  • Distance from Columbus: 32 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A drive of 32 miles north, Mountain Creek Lake is located in one of the most popular gardens in the Southeast, Callaway Resort and Gardens

The 155-acre lake and smaller lakes on the grounds provide a pleasant location to view a variety of flowers, azalea gardens, and other plants and trees in a natural setting.

This lake and its neighbors were created from streams in the mid-20th century, with notable gardens, pathways, and other amenities added around them. 

A stroll along the lake will allow guests to see channel catfish and other species. This privately-managed location charges admission.

The gardens are a popular tourist destination throughout the year. The hilly terrain, well-maintained parks and facilities, and scenic paths at this 2,500-acre resort attract those interested in aesthetically pleasing landscapes and native plants of the Southeast. Seasonal events are popular, attracting visitors from Atlanta and other distant areas. 

When it comes to water activities, the resort offers swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. Boat rentals are available, and one of the lakes has a beach complete with an inflatable aqua park for summertime fun.

7. Lake Delanor

F.D. Roosevelt State Park
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Delanor
  • Distance from Columbus: 42 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking

A 15-acre reservoir known as both Lake Delano and Lake Delanor sits within F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Less than one mile east of Callaway Gardens and a drive of approximately 42 miles from Columbus, this state park is the largest unit in the system, with nearly 9,050 acres. 

The impressive terrain along Pine Mountain makes this a popular destination for camping and hiking.

Former President Franklin Roosevelt visited this site to enjoy the warm natural spring waters that relieved his polio. The lake was named in honor of his mother, Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt. 

The park has a swimming pool, and you can rent aqua cycles, kayaks, and canoes to use on the water. The lake is home to bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie.

8. Lake Chewacla

Chewacla State Park
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Lake Chewacla
  • Distance from Columbus: 40 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Approximately 40 miles west of downtown Columbus and a little south of Auburn, Chewacla State Park and the 26-acre Lake Chewacla are legacies of the New Deal. 

Developed by the Civilian Conversation Corps, this area became a popular recreation site after crews created a dam that impounded creeks to create the lake. State authorities in Alabama opened this park in 1939. 

The 696-acre park includes hiking trails, mountain biking areas, rustic cabins, and a campground. The lake and a small waterfall are the center of attention as the destination for swimming, fishing, and non-motorized boating.

Along with enjoying time at the beach area, anglers should cast a line in pursuit of crappie, catfish, bass, and bream. They can try their luck in the artificially-created lake or two creeks within the park.

9. West Point Lake

West Point Lake Boat Ramp
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: West Point Lake
  • Distance from Columbus: 53 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Fifty miles north of Columbus, West Point Lake is an impounded section of the Chattahoochee River created by the construction of the West Point Dam. 

The lake took shape in the early 1970s, offering hydroelectric power, downriver flood control, multiple recreation options, and fish and wildlife management. 

The 25,900-acre reservoir covers a 35-mile section of the river and includes almost 525 miles of shoreline.

Conveniently located near Interstate Highways 85 and 185, West Point Lake has camping, boating, hunting, and fishing areas. 

Numerous federal campsites and boat launches are available year-round, with seasonal swimming facilities also present. 

Fishing is the top reason people visit West Point Lake. Whether from a boat, pier, or the shoreline, trophy largemouth bass and large amounts of crappie are carried from the lake by anglers. Catfish and bream are also commonly caught. 

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