Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia, near the town of Jasper, one will find an amazing gated resort community of homes and vacation rental properties called, "Big Canoe." My husband and I recently toured Big Canoe and were amazed at the beauty of this little piece of "Heaven on Earth." As we stepped out of the car, we immediately inhaled the scent of pine trees and fresh air. We noticed the quiet of being in the country and the sounds of nearby birds in their natural habitats. Squirrels scampered away as we got out of the car. It was quite a different experience than if we were in the city of Atlanta, approximately 80 miles away.
There are two ways to enter the Big Canoe community, the main gate, and a north gate. Big Canoe encompasses 8,000 acres of forested mountains and is a delight to the eye of the beholder. Big Canoe has homes both old and new, as well as condos and rental properties. The Big Canoe community was started in 1972 but has come a long way since then. It has approximately 3,000 full-time residents, with 100 of them being children. The average age of a Big Canoe resident is 61 years, and residents are not only from Georgia but come from all over the country to reside here. There are approximately 5,000 homeowners in Big Canoe, but 2,000 are seasonal residents only. Since Big Canoe is a gated community, once, inside the gates, you leave the rest of the world behind. Home sites range from $80,000 to $300,000 and home prices range from the mid $200,000s to over 2 million dollars!
Within the gates of the Big Canoe community, you will find:
3 Nine-hole golf courses
Ten tennis courts
Two outdoor swimming pools
One indoor swimming pool
One rock slide
Canoes, paddle boats, Jon boats and pontoon boats
22 miles of hiking trails
1 Fitness Center
One beautiful chapel (The Big Canoe Chapel)
And the most beautiful view of the mountains that you may ever find in the state of Georgia!
Activities at Big Canoe
Whether you rent or buy a home in this community, there are plenty of activities to keep you and your family busy.
Lake Petit is the largest lake at Big Canoe. It covers 120 acres and is 96 feet deep in the middle. Only hand-powered or electric boats can be used in Big Canoe because the lakes are used for community drinking water and gas-powered boats would contaminate the water. Not allowing motorized boats also keeps the noise level down for Big Canoe residents. Pontoon boats, Jon boats, kayaks, and canoes can all be rented. Lake Petit is regularly stocked with Rainbow Trout, but avid fisherman may also find Bass, Crappie, and Bream at Lake Petit. Recently, Lake Petit has been approved for swimming but only in certain areas and only off a boat, not from the shore.
Lake Disharoon is next to the fitness center and is the lake most available for swimming. It has a roped off area for young children and a sandy beach area. Just past the roped off swimming area is an area that has inflatables. Kids and adults can walk out onto a floating deck and climb on an inflatable raft and slides. It's home to the Big Canoe Swim Club and includes a rock slide which is a big hit with the kids.
For people using the Swim Club, there are also pedal boats, kayaks and paddle boards that can be used out on the lake.
Lake Sconti is surrounded by the golf course and is available for fishing. Beautiful views of this lake can be seen while golfing or dining in the Big Canoe Clubhouse.
The Wellness Center
The Big Canoe Wellness Center is a large 16,000 square foot facility which includes cardiovascular and strength training equipment, racquetball and squash courts, and two indoor tennis courts. Group exercise classes are available in aerobics, boot camp, strength and flexibility yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Tai Chi and water aerobics. Personal trainers are available. Services available in the fitness center include massage therapy and physical therapy. The fitness center also houses a saline indoor five-lane lap swimming pool.
Big Canoe has a tennis center which offers eight outdoor courts, 4 with Har-Tru clay, 2 with Clay Tec, and two hard courts.
There are over 20 miles of hiking trails available to Big Canoe residents and their guests. One of the things I especially liked about the hiking trail system is that there are a variety of lengths of trails to choose from. .02 miles to 1.9 miles. McDaniel's Meadow, a 34-acre park that houses some of these trails. It has natural native wildflowers in bloom from March through November. McDaniel Meadows has paved trails for walking, running and biking. Other hiking trails are available in other parts of Big Canoe, and they are made of gravel or are just paths created in the woods.
The Big Canoe championship golf course is a 27 hole course surrounded by the beauty of mountains and Lake Sconti. The proper dress must be worn at all times, and to help you with that, you may purchase golf clothing, equipment, and gear at the pro shop, located in the clubhouse. There are also three nine hole courses available for golfers of all skill levels.
The Black Bear Pub
Inside the Big Canoe gates is a wonderful restaurant housed at the Clubhouse. For a fine dining experience, you can dine at The Black Bear Pub with a beautiful backdrop of soaring mountains outside the large windows in the dining room, or you can be seated around the corner near the bar. Although there is no mountain scenery from the bar area, there are big screen televisions to watch all the latest sports events. If you choose to dine outside, there is also the Sunset Veranda attached to the Clubhouse to feel at one with nature. It now houses a covered veranda to keep the sun off on hot summer days.
There is also Duffers, a take-out restaurant where one can order soups and sandwiches, and it is located behind the Clubhouse. Popular with golfers, it is also open to the public, and there's seating nearby on an outdoor patio.
Outside of the Big Canoe Gates
A five-minute drive from the main gate, you will find the Foothills Plaza which is also the home to Fuego, a Mexican Restaurant, and a very nice pizza/Italian Restaurant called, "Fiori." For a great lunch, try Mary's bakery which not only offers sweet treats and homemade bread but great sandwiches as well.
Big Canoe Clubs
For those who like to socialize, there are over 50 clubs within the Big Canoe community. I won't list them all, but some of the more interesting ones I noticed are photography club, quilting club, fly fishers club, book club, billiards club, cycling club, animal rescue club, The Artists Association, woodworking club, pottery club, and a writers club.
For those who don't want to leave their community to attend church, Big Canoe has its own multi-denominational chapel on the grounds. It can seat up to 350 people. The chapel is a central part of community life at Big Canoe, offering Sunday school and youth groups for children and teens.
Big Canoe is a fantastic place to live, but as with any gated community, there are a few drawbacks. The POA fees at Big Canoe are $230 per month. This includes garbage services, road care, 24 hours manned roving security, over 3,000 acres of green space, over 26 miles of trails, and seven fire stations. I guess when you look at this helping to keep your home secure and the roads clear in inclement weather ( although there isn't that much of that in GA.) it's worth the cost. There are also separate fees for each amenity, such as the Fitness center, Golf, tennis, swim club, etc., but if you lived outside the gates of Big Canoe, you would be paying that somewhere else anyway.
All in all, Big Canoe is an amazing place that signals your body and mind to relax the moment you drive through its gates onto its forested mountain property. We will probably look into renting there for a week or two because it's such a beautiful, peaceful place for a vacation. And maybe we will end up even moving there someday! If it's peaceful for a vacation, I can only imagine what it will be for a lifetime!
It is now September of 2014. We checked out a few homes at the end of May last year and stayed in a condo at Big Canoe for one week. We loved the whole experience so much that we were determined to find a home in Big Canoe. We returned home and began the process of getting our home in Connecticut ready to put on the market.
Our house went on the market at the end of April 2014. We went again to Big Canoe in May 2014, fell in love with a house there, and after a few days, our offer was accepted! We became full-time residents of Big Canoe, Georgia on August 29th, 2014. We have a beautiful long range mountain view from our living room, bedroom and back deck. We are much more physically active than we ever were before due to the workout center, indoor pool, and hiking trails. And we love our new life here. It is like being on vacation every day, even though my husband and I both work from home.
Note: I have a new computer, and for some reason, I can upload and save the pictures, but it won't allow me to put in my photo source or give a caption. The first three pictures were taken by me, the first two off of our back deck, and the third was in our front yard. This gorgeous deer greeted us on our first morning in our new home.
Big Canoe Living
Want more articles about Georgia? See below:
- The Delights of Historic Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega, Georgia is filled with history and uniquely southern shops, sites and food. A recent visit there proved worth the trip for a day of enjoyment in the North Georgia mountains.
- Back Porch Oyster Bar in Dahlonega, Georgia: A Restaurant Review
Dahlonega, Georgia is the setting for this wonderful restaurant in the North Georgia Mountains.
Click below for a Video Tour of Big Canoe
© 2012 Karen Hellier
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on February 23, 2018:
No Lisa, there isn't a child development center inside the gated community. Big Canoe is out in the woods. The closest one is about 35 minutes from here.
Lisa Branstetter on October 31, 2015:
Is there a child development center located within the gated community?
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on June 04, 2015:
You are welcome. I love it here. It's very peaceful and the perfect spot for a girl's getaway.
Janet on June 02, 2015:
Thank you for this post! A few girlfriends and I are looking to take a weekend trip to Big Canoe, and this post is VERY informative and helpful.
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 31, 2013:
I am back down in Big Canoe and added new pictures to this hub. I have a new camera and the pictures came out so much better!
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on December 30, 2012:
No no, lol...no southern drawl for me. I am a Yankee born and raised! I may learn to tie a few ties but fishing itself is not for me. I feel bad for the fish. I am a live and let live kinda girl! You are right about the great amenities for a writer. Even just the scenery is enough to inspire me to write at least 10 hubs, starting with one for each season! It also has a really fantastic workout center and some beautiful walking trails that are sure to be inspirational. And there's a ton of wildlife so you can bet I will be taking a lot of pictures. But the move will have to come in God's time since we have 2 houses to sell before we can even think about buying there. We will be going to stay for a week in march to give the place a test drive so I am looking forward to that. And of course you know just that one week visit will inspire numerous hubs. And more pictures. I have a new camera so can't wait to try it out down there.
Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on December 30, 2012:
Karen, do you realize how many wonderful adventures you've encountered just this past year alone? This gated community has a lot of great amenities for a writer--the luxury of quality time, inspirational scenery, cool places to write at as well as about, and wonderful social activities. The fly fishing club appeals to me because I used to tie and sell tens of thousands of flies at one time in my life. Someday, I'd like to go fly fishing in my state of origin, Hawai'i. Perhaps you may even learn to tie a few flies yourself at Big Canoe. Thoroughly enjoyed this review! I daresay you could branch off into tourist brochure writing somewhere down the line. Thanks, Karen! God bless you and hubby with the big move! (Does this mean you'll be talking with a southern drawl by 2014?)
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 25, 2012:
Wow ThelmaC, your comments make me want to go back and have lunch at Mary's and go consignment store shopping...I love those stores. It's good to know there's one nearby.Thanks for the comment and I am glad you liked the hub.
Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 25, 2012:
Karen I live in the north Georgia mountains and go by Big Canoe on a regular basis. I like to have lunch at Mary's Bakery located near the grocery store outside the gate. They have delicious sandwiches on fresh baked bread. Also there is a nice consignment shop just across from the Dollar Store. Some great bargains can be found there. The north Georgia mountains are very beautiful. You wrote a great hub!
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 25, 2012:
You are right, it is safe because they patrol it often. I wish I could have gotten some better shots of the mountains. It's actually even more beautiful in person.
Dianna Mendez on April 25, 2012:
I believe I would live very comfortably at Big Canoe. It certainly has a lot of interesting amenities. The views are beautiful and it seems like a very safe place to live.
Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on April 25, 2012:
Thanks for reading twinstimes2 and billybuc. It is such a peaceful place. Really surprising how quiet and so close to nature when it's so close to Atlanta.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 25, 2012:
Pretty cool place and beautiful country. It's not for me but I can see why many would like it. Nice, informative hub!
Karen Lackey from Ohio on April 25, 2012:
My children would love to have all the amenities at Big Canoe! We might never leave! Sounds amazing. Hope you get to live there!