Big Canoe 3

It’s What’s Missing That Will Make You Thankful


There is a lot you won’t find here — the low hum of lawnmowers; the revving snarl of motorcycles; annoying horn honks from impatient drivers. Passing through the check-in gate, a drive across the covered bridge means you enter a world devoid of sound you didn’t realize existed. At first it seems an uncomfortable quiet that causes even suburban dwellers a moment of uneasy confusion. But then an epiphany happens: what you are experiencing is peace.

If you’re not originally from the Atlanta area, it’s likely that you haven’t heard of Big Canoe, a hidden gem of relaxation strategically located where the mountains meet the metro, one hour north of Atlanta. Once called “the Enchanted Land” by Native Americans, the mountains and valleys of Big Canoe create the perfect environment for you to slow down, regroup and reconnect.

You won’t find it on the list of best resort getaways, but not because it wouldn’t be worthy. Big Canoe is actually a gated, residential community. The population is roughly split in half between full-time residents and weekenders. A diverse rental array makes Big Canoe accessible to those who aren’t property owners. But beware, one visit may have you dreaming of permanent status.To get your dream-building session started, here are the basics in what to do, where to stay and what to eat in Big Canoe.

To Do

With roughly 30 percent of the property acreage at Big Canoe reserved as green space, it’s not surprising that outdoor activities abound here. Over 20 miles of trails allow you to leisurely saunter through a meadow looking for deer, or follow the fern-carpeted forest to follow a natural stream flowing to meet the lake. Trails ranging from easy to strenuous afford views of local fauna and give quiet-goers an opportunity to spot native wildlife such as bear, deer, geese and other North Georgia indigenous animals. Terrain options range from paved to rocky. Even Fido can have a romp in one of two off-leash dog parks.

Don’t forget your wheels! Paved and rugged trails are available for biking. A one-of-a-kind, 1.7-mile Jeep trail allows 4-wheel drive vehicles to drive through creeks, past waterfalls, and along rocky terrain.

Three lakes provide ample opportunity for boating and other watersports. One thousand pounds of trout are stocked in the lake most months of the year; and bass, crappie and bream can be caught as well. Pontoon boats, canoes and paddle boards are all available for rental through the marina.

During the summer, Lake Disharoon is water play central. Floating inflatable slides and an obstacles course are located directly out from the 300-yard sand beachfront of the Big Canoe Swim Club. Paddle boats, kayaks, paddle boards and a 200-foot rock slide are just a few of the amenities located at the club.  Now that it is fall though, color explodes at Big Canoe in a visual treat. The foliage shines with its red, orange, and gold spectacle that meets its mirror reflection upon the many lakes and ponds across the community. Autumnal splendor at Big Canoe can rival anything the North puts forth.

A 27-hole championship golf course winds around lakes and is flanked by the rising mountains. Tennis courts, pickleball, fitness center, bocce ball courts, playgrounds, a kiddie pool, basketball court, soccer field and even baseball field are all located within the gated community. Big Canoe is also close to popular attractions such as Gibbs Gardens and Amicalola Falls.

To Stay

There is no “norm” here. Lodging is as diverse as the 8,000+ acres on property that extend in elevation up to approximately 3,000 feet. Options range from single bedroom condos centrally located to amenities, to houses along the greens of the championship golf course, and even mountain vista homes that hug the top mountain ridges.

Rental options can be found through Mountain Vista Rentals, specializing in Big Canoe rentals. ( Big Canoe homes ranging from 1- to 7-bedrooms can also be found on popular vacation rental sites such as and

To Eat

From the bistro to snack shacks, dining options exist in all major activity areas across the property. Don’t miss Black Bear Pub- the sunset veranda is the perfect place to see the mountains reflection off the lake and enjoy specials such as live chef stations and happy hour. This is place you will want to be for game day camaraderie.

For a bit more posh experience, check out Mountains Grills at the Clubhouse on Lake Sconti. This upscale dining room offers some of the best views at Big Canoe.