Buford Dam

The Birthplace of Lake Lanier Map
From Buford Dam

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the dangers of the Chattahoochee River with outdoor enthusiasts being in need of rescue. In more extreme cases, drowning occurs. And it seems that all the blame for this goes to a little marvel of modern technology known as the Buford Dam.

Built in 1956, the Buford Dam does several things for us in Metro Atlanta besides try to kill us. It does a nice job of Flood Control with only two significant floods South of Dam since its inception. It provides power; it aids in wildlife management; and it helps with our water supply. In order to do these things, it has a continuous release Schedule that is irregular. Water is released from Lanier daily, but some days it’s a little and some days it’s a lot. The more water that is released the more dangerous the river becomes, so check at the phone number (770) 945-1466, so you will be adequately prepared.

Visiting the Dam is an interesting excursion in its own right. Some write this up as a trail, and so I will do the same, but I warn it is very short at only about a mile, if you park at the Lower Overlook Park to save on parking fees at the Dam itself. On the bright side, it is a very easy excursion for those who can do limited physical activity, the physically-challenged, or even small children.

In the one mile space, 3 things jump out at me of interest. The most obvious of which is the rocks and formations of the dam itself. There is a nice little steel frame bridge with great views of the dam or down the Chattahoochee. The second is the sheer clarity of the water. As the water released from Lanier comes from the bottom of the lake, it is crystal clear in spite of the heavy boat usage there. Finally, and probably the most odd, is the wildlife in the area. Of course there’s ducks and fish, and that’s to be expected. But there are also a fair number of goats living just inside the fences at the dam.
You can also watch the fisherman at work (or do they call it play) as it is popular for this activity.

So if you looking for an interesting side excursion on your trip to Lanier or a short jaunt off the LLaurel Ridge Trail Laurel Ridge Trail on your more extensive hike, the Buford Dam is a shouldn’t miss place just at the Forsyth-Gwinnett County Border. On a beautiful day, it is another option to get you outside. And the sirens you hear are announcing the release of water.

Trail Essentials
Approximate Time: ½ - 1 hr
Approximate Distance: 1 mi.
Features: Dam, River View, Wildlife

Overall Rating: C+

Scenic Quality: A-
Athleticism: C-
Solitude: C-
Value: B
Parking: Free (lower overlook park) Charge at Dam Parking
Hours of Operation: Daylight Hours
Facilities: At Lower Overlook Park
Maps: None, Follow Laurel Ridge Trail to Dam (marked trail), and return same way
County: Forsyth

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