Recreation in the Lake martin areaPublished 5:38pm Friday, April 1, 2011
With a surface area covering more than 44,000 acres and a shoreline that meanders almost 750 miles, Lake Martin offers many boating opportunities. The lake is a man-made reservoir that was constructed in 1926 with the placement of Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River. It is nearly 30 miles long had has an average depth of 41 feet, though many spots are over 100 feet deep. It is possible to put-in at one of the 17 public and private boat ramps and drive for hours in one direction – it is impossible to explore the whole lake in one day. Besides the usual activities of tubing, water skiing and riding jet skis, dozens of islands to visit and claim as a private beach for a day or for a weekend of primitive camping. Take a map.
Located in the south central part of Lake Martin, just a little north of the dam, Chimney Rock is a destination currently accessible only by water where people meet, swim and cliff dive. The term “Chimney Rock” is used for the general area, though the natural “chimney rock” formation is found on a nearby island called Dixie Island. The large , 49-foot-high rock formation that many people jump off of is properly called “Acapulco Rock.” Shorter jumping rocks are 7 feet, and 22 feet high. The 22-foot rock is commonly known at “Chicken Rock,” and during warm months there is often a queue of people there waiting for their turn to jump.
Lake Martin is home to world-class fishing. Whether angling from the shore or out on the water, there are many species to go after, including bass, striped bass – some in the 40-pound range – crappie, catfish and bream. Lake Martin’s massive size and sometimes confusing shape make it prudent to hire one of the many fish guides in the area if you are a serious sportsman. A number of professional bass angling tournaments have been held on the lake.
There are three golf courses – one private and two public – in the immediate Lake Martin area.
Willow Point Golf & Country Club is a private, bent grass course built on the shores of Lake Martin in the gated Willow Point neighborhood. It has been called “America’s most beautiful lake course,” and offers 18 manicured holes to members and their guests. The pro shop phone number is 256-212-1409.
Lakewinds Golf Course is a public, 18-hole course owned by the City of Alexander City. It is located right off of Highway 280 near the northern part of the lake and is open seven days a week beginning at 7 a.m. For more information concerning hours, tee times or greens fees, call 256-825-9860.
StillWaters Golf Course is located on the southeast side of Lake Martin in Dadeville, off Highway 49. Although the 18-hole course is located within the StillWaters gated community, the public is invited to play and only needs to inform the gate-keepers that they wish to go to the golf course. The course is open at 7 a.m. six days a week except Monday. To contact the pro shop call 256-825-1353.
The large expanses of open water on Lake Martin make it an attractive place to sail. The Dixie Sailing Club hosts regattas, socials and cook-offs. For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to their website, www.dixiesailingclub.com. Lanier Sailing Academy at Harbor Pointe Marina inside the StillWaters community teaches sailing classes and rents sailboats. For more information call 800-684-WIND or 256-825-8497 or visit www.laniersail.com.
With no professional team in the state, football fans here focus on Friday night high school, and Saturday college, gridiron action. The University of Alabama, which is about two hours away, and Auburn University, about 35 minutes from the lake, are among the nation’s best teams, winning back-to-back NCAA National Championship and Heisman trophies 2009 and 2010. Several local high schools that have seen success in the past few years, packing the stands along the way. The Class 2A Reeltown High School Rebels have been to the state championship game the last two years in a row, winning the crown in 2009. In the past decade they have earned 106 wins while losing 36 contests. The Dadeville High School Tigers enjoyed regional championship success in 2008 and 2010. Other teams in the area include Alexander City’s Benjamin Russell High School Wildcats, which was a powerhouse in the 1990s and early 2000s; New Site’s Horseshoe Bend High School Generals; and Rockford’s Coosa County High School Tigers.
The lake area has a wealth of trails to offer hikers. The local Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association (CRATA) manages a series of trails that begin at Overlook Park just north of Martin Dam. The newest CRATA project, being constructed in 2011, includes a series of trails on the lake and the restoration of a 70-foot fire tower on the top of Smith Mountain. For more information log onto www.crata.org. Other scenic foot-trail offerings include a History Trail through Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, the trails at Wind Creek State Park, and a huge series of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that weave thorough the Russell Forest. The annual Russell Forest Run stages 5K and 10K races on the dirt trails.
Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park, which is adjacent to the southern edge of Alexander City on the northern shores of Lake Martin, claims the distinction of being the largest state-operated campground in the United States. It has seven cabins and 626 primitive camp sites within its borders – 187 of those are lakefront camping spots.
The 1,445-acre recreation area also has plenty of fishing, swimming and boating opportunities along its miles of shoreline. Wind Creek operates a marina, boat ramp access, camp store, laundry facilities, numerous bathhouses, playgrounds and picnic areas designed with permanent tables, grills and shelters. Two trails traverse a vast swath of the park’s property. The nearly four-mile Alabama Reunion Trail, which is rated moderate to difficult, reveals a landscape that has a diverse range of trees, plants, birds and other animals.
The Campfire Trail is a nearly two-mile moderate path that is near and along the park’s eastern shore. The park is open every day from 7 a.m. until sunset and, depending on the time of year and week, entrance fees are no more than $3 per adult person. For more information visit www.alapark.com/windcreek.
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
The historic battle in the spring of 1814 between the Upper Creek Indians, who were also known as the Red Sticks, and Gen. Andrew Jackson’s Army, is preserved in this park that sits just miles off of Highway 280 and around eight miles north of the Dadeville city limits. The famous peninsula that was the sight of a large portion of the fighting is surrounded by the Tallapoosa River and sits within the park’s 2,040 acres. There is a 2.8-mile foot-path that loops over hills and through valleys which is dotted with signs detailing the conflict’s areas of significant interest. The national military park is staffed by rangers who host numerous special events and living history programs, including skirmish reenactments, each year. Visit www.horseshoebend.areaparks.com for more information.
Officially called the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, the outdoor corridor will link nine east-central Alabama counties into an ideal path for people who want to observe birds and other wildlife in a natural setting. The project to connect Autauga, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Randolph and Tallapoosa counties is being coordinated out of the offices of the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce and its president, Marvin Wagoner. Once the eight planned pathways are done – four of them are already – all 67 counties in the state will be a part of the Alabama Birding Trail. The state has wildlife habitats that vary from the Gulf coast plains in the south to the northern rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.