Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lake Spivey vs Lake Toxaway

This is the second part of my two part series on our trip to the Highlands and Cashiers area of North Carolina.  The first part, Highlands - Cashiers NC Trip can be found here.  It deals with the trip, where to eat, and where we stayed.  Part two is a look at Lake Toxaway and how it compares to Lake Spivey.

You might ask what's the purpose of a comparison between these two lakes.  Firstly, I was struck by the similarities.  Two communities with private lakes of similar size with adjoining secondary private lakes of similar size alongside a golf course.  They each even had their own "Spivey Queen" boat for cruising the lakes.  The Spivey Queen is gone now but Lake Toxaway still has Miss Lucy, a 26 passenger mahogany launch.  A secondary purpose of this blog is to highlight the potential of these lakes, especially Lake Spivey.

A picture of the Spivey Queen taken in the early 1960's
First of all I must disclose that I'm no expert on Lake Toxaway.  I only know about the lake from having driven round it twice, speaking to locals, and what I've read.  Some folks might say that I'm no expert on Lake Spivey either but I think I know more than most residents about the history and administration of Lake Spivey.  I fancy myself as somewhat of an historian.  Susan and I moved to the Lake Spivey area in the Spring of 2004 from Decatur, Georgia.  In the fall of 2007 we purchased a home on Emerald Drive which gave us rights to use the lake.  Since the summer of 2008 we've ridden our pontoon boat, kayaked, and swam in the lake as much as anyone.  The lake is the only place I swim.  In the past year I've swam over 100 miles in the lake training for various triathlons.  Diana Nyad I'm not but I'm proud of my own accomplishments nevertheless.

Of course Lake Spivey is located in Georgia just south of Atlanta.  Downtown Atlanta is 21 miles away.  The convenience of interstate highways I-20, I-75 and I-85 are minutes away.  Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is less than 20 miles away.  Lake Toxaway is located in North Carolina.  Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, the closest metropolitan areas to Lake Toxaway are Asheville, NC and Greensboro, SC which are 50 and 55 miles away, respectively.  So, if you live near Lake Toxaway and need a loaf of bread, you'd better pack a lunch.

Map centered on Lake Spivey, Georgia
Map centered on Cashiers, North Carolina
Lake Toxaway is a private lake advertised as being 640 acres.  Management of the lake is handled by the Lake Toxaway Community Association.  Lake Spivey is also private.  It's advertised as being a 600 acre lake but county records indicate that it is 481.7 acres.  Lake Spivey is managed by the Lake Spivey Civic Association.  Both lakes have an adjoining feeder lake.  For Lake Toxaway it is the 65 acre Lake Cardinal.  For Lake Spivey it is the 70 acre Lake Jodeco.  Both Lake Spivey and Lake Toxaway are advertised as being the largest private lake in their respective state.  You can expect a bit of "puffing" whenever a developer describes a property to a prospective buyer.

Lake Spivey and Lake Toxaway allow power boats.  Jet skis are not allowed in Lake Toxaway.   Lake Jodeco also allows power boats but Lake Cardinal does not.

Calm water on Lake Spivey
A ski boat on Lake Spivey
A pontoon boat tie-up on Lake Spivey
Lake Spivey allows property owners to construct docks and boat houses down to and beyond the water line.  Lake Toxaway also seems to allow this however, I'm sure there are restrictions similar to those on Lake Spivey.  This is different from most other large area lakes which only allow floating docks and restrict tree cutting and brush clearing near the water line. (Many of these lakes are controlled by Corp. of Engineers or power companies).

Susan and Max ready for a boat ride on Lake Spivey
A home and dock on Lake Spivey
One of the community marinas on Lake Spivey
The shoreline on Lake Spivey
Homes on Lake Spivey
A grand estate on Lake Spivey
Notable residents of Lake Toxaway reportedly include several Coca-Cola and Home Depot company executives.  Lake Spivey is home to many Chick-fil-a and Southern Company executives.  Phil Rudd, the drummer from the rock band AC/DC reportedly has a boat on Lake Toxaway.  Phil Ehart, the drummer from the band Kansas recently moved from Lake Spivey.  Rapper and actor Clifford Harris, better known as T.I., still calls Lake Spivey home.

Lake Toxaway and Lake Spivey are neither water reservoirs or used for power generation.  So, as you might expect, the level of both lakes remain relatively unchanged throughout the year in spite of changes in rainfall.  During the 2008 drought in Georgia the water level of Lake Spivey reportedly was three inches below full pool.  Susan and I couldn't tell a difference between 2008 and 2013, a year when we had at or near record rainfall amounts.

Located in the Nantahala National Forest, Lake Toxaway boasts pristine mountain vistas, clear trout filled streams and narrow, steep, winding roads lined with rhododendrons and mountain laurels.  There seems to be very little poison ivy.  Lake Spivey, being so close to a major metropolitan area is more of a suburb of Atlanta with the the manicured lawns and trimmed hedges that these communities bring.  

Annual fees for members of the Lake Toxaway Community Association are around $2200.  The fees for Lake Spivey Civic Association are around $750 annually.  There are similar extra fees for boats on both lakes.   Lake Spivey has an optional $45 fee to fund the 4th of July fireworks show.  Membership in the private Lake Toxaway Country Club is considerably more.

The annual 4th of July Fireworks Show on Lake Spivey
Lake Toxaway has a single community marina for members to moor their boats.  The marina is located next to the country club and The Greystone Inn.  It has slips for about 110 boats.  Lake Spivey has conveniently located Reserved Mooring Slips (RMS) and marinas located throughout the community.   There is an adjacent public golf club, the Lake Spivey Golf Club, but no accompanying accommodations.

The Lake Spivey Golf Club entrance
The Reid Stephens Heritage Park and Wildlife Sanctuary near Lake Spivey
Only property owners may use Lake Spivey.  Only property owners may use Lake Toxaway, and visitors may purchase a temporary membership.  With the temporary membership visitors are free to rent a boat at the marina, use the fitness facilities, play golf, croquet and tennis, plus enjoy the benefits of the country club.

Lake Toxaway has been under development since the 1960's.  The 5000 acre development is still actively promoted by the Lake Toxaway Company and as such it has an active marketing program with accompanying literature.

Lake Toxaway has a Dam to Dam Swim.  Lake Spivey has the Swim Across America.

The Greystone Inn's Lake Toxaway boats - Miss Lucy is on the right
Lake Toxaway marina
The view of Lake Toxaway from the marina
A selfie at Lake Toxaway
The shoreline along Lake Toxaway
Accommodations at The Greystone Inn
The entrance to The Greystone Inn
The view of Lake Toxaway from the water's edge at the inn
The view of Lake Toxaway from the inn
Moss on the roof of The Greystone Inn
The Lake Toxaway marina has slips for about 110 boats
Lake Cardinal which flows into Lake Toxaway
Lake Toxaway at the dam area between Lake Cardinal and Lake Toxaway
A home near Lake Toxaway
Lake Toxaway Company real estate information package
A quick review of the US Census community data for Lake Spivey (zipcode 30236) and Lake Toxaway (zipcode 28747) shows that, with regard to income, the residents of both communities are very similar.  Data from the "2007-2011 American Community Survey" shows Lake Toxaway residents have a median household income of $46,250.  Lake Spivey residents are only slightly lower at $44,099.

So, obviously we like both lakes.  They both have their own appeal, their similarities and their differences.  We're still searching for the perfect place to retire away from the big city.  Lake Toxaway seems to be a place that begs a second look.

Call Susan if you'd like to see any homes in the Lake Spivey or Lake Toxaway area.

Thanks for reading.

See all our pictures here.