We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day to tour seven master-planned communities at Norris Lake with our trusted colleague. 34,000 acre emerald green Norris Lake was approximately 20 feet below the full pool level of 1,020 feet. A 20 foot drop is normal during the winter season. This Eastern Tennessee lake community is where folks go to unplug and get away from it all, and is a popular second and vacation home destination. There are 28 marinas on the lake and many have restaurants and live entertainment. Big events at Norris Lake include Malibu Weekend, MasterCraft Weekend and Fire on the Water which all take place in July.
What makes Norris Lake special? The reservoir wraps around protected land which will never be developed, the 24,444 acre Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area. There are very few master-planned communities and neighborhoods situated on the lake. It could take you an hour to navigate by boat from one end of the lake to the other and twice that by car. We took the five minute Helms Ferry in Union County to cross over the land mass peninsular protruding into the lake, a six car automobile ferry locals know about. The free ferry ride saved us 30 minutes of drive time. The Highway 33 new bridge in Union County is still under construction and was slated for completion in 2012. When the Highway 33 four lane road expansion and new bridge are complete, this will be a huge time saver for those living in the town of Sharps Chapel.
Our overall consensus, Norris Lake homes with boat docks are pricey and are easily $500k. Lake view homes can be found in the $200k’s. The big difference is accessibility to Interstate 75 and 25E. Quality medical care and shopping are in Knoxville. On Norris Lake, you won’t be running to the store for milk and bread. Shopping and doctor visits are planned events and could take you most of the day. New habits are easily adaptable in exchange for a beautiful life in a national park like setting.
Communities we visited on or at Norris Lake:
- Deerfield Resort
- McCloud Mountain
- Norris Shores
- Pinnacle Pointe
- Sunset Bay
- The Peninsular
- Waterside Cove
DEERFIELD RESORT - LaFollette
Probably the most well known gated community on Norris Lake, Deerfield Resort has the only golf course and private 3,200’ airstrip on the lake. Amenities include a full service marina, outdoor swimming pool, and tennis courts. Spread across 1,000 acres, single family homes and condominiums begin in the $200k’s. Some homes are situated on the lake while others are at higher elevations with long range lake views. Deerfield Resort allows short term rentals, an important attribute to those looking to offset the hard costs of owning a vacation home on Norris Lake. Some of the roads were recently resurfaced and looked new. The golf course didn’t look particularly attractive and may be because of the early spring season.
THE PENINSULAR - LaFollette
It was a pleasure to see the progress at The Peninsular. Twenty homes have been built to date of the 40 planned at this Norris Lake gated community. Each of the lakefront homes has a boat dock and most have gentle slopes down to the lake. The majority of the community faces the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area giving a sense of privacy and peacefulness. No short term rentals are permitted. Homes here begin above $1 million and can easily exceed $3 million. The Peninsular is a gorgeous second home lakefront neighborhood on Norris Lake.
PINNACLE POINTE - Sharps Chapel
Built by developer Steve Jones, amenities include a Nicklaus/Golden Bear Design putting green and community boat slips. The new Norris Lake community has been driven by event sales and had a few homes built. Nothing special grabbed us about this Norris Lake master-planned community. The developer’s website was down making it difficult for us to learn more.
WATERSIDE COVE - Sharps Chapel
For buyers looking for new homes on Norris Lake, Waterside Cove is a great option. 17 homes are now complete of the first 50 planned. The Norris Lake level was low exposing the lake bed on the north side of this boutique-size neighborhood. The topography is gentle. Waterside Cove’s community boat dock is the main amenity and every home owner is guaranteed a boat slip. Craftsman-style homes are being built by SmithBilt, a local Norris Lake home builder. Homes on the lake begin in the mid $200k’s. Lakeview homes begin in the mid $100k’s. Waterside Cove is the sister community of Waterside at Norris Lake, a condominium community on the south side of the lake.
SUNSET BAY - Sharps Chapel
Both myself and our trusted colleague agree, Sunset Bay would have been the talk of the town if this Norris Lake master-planned community had a Signature designed golf course. There is not a bad view in the neighborhood! Rolling hills expose gorgeous viewing corridors of the lake and of the Cumberland Mountains off in the distance. Elevations range from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet. Amenities include a lakefront clubhouse, outdoor swimming pool, tennis court and community boat docks. The majority of the lakefront homes have private boat docks. We observed about a half a dozen homes under construction. Maybe 100 homes have been built to date of the 1,000 planned. Tennessee Land Partners was the original real estate developer and to our knowledge, is no longer involved. Sunset Bay is the most remote high quality master-planned community on Norris Lake with homes beginning in the mid $200k’s.
NORRIS SHORES - Sharps Chapel
Built next to Sunset Bay on Norris Lake, Norris Shores is a 400 home lakefront community with a private marina which began in 1991. The roads looked worn and nothing jumped out at us making us feel this community was special.
MCCLOUD MOUNTAIN - Duff
Towering over Norris Lake and the Tennessee Valley, McCloud Mountain is 1,300 acre master-planned community seated at 2,700 feet in elevation. 58 homes are planned. The roads are steep with hairpin turns and no protective guard rails. The views are stunning. There are very few places in Eastern Tennessee where you’ll find long range views like those at McCloud Mountain however, Duff is off the beaten path therefore we think McCloud Mountain would be a tough sell to city folks desiring to build a mountain home when they have choices in the fun town of Gatlinburg. Fields Development had a great vision in mind but without safe roads, the community scores low on our scale.
If you’re searching for a lakefront home on Norris Lake, don’t go it alone. Our trusted colleague was raised on Norris Lake and knows the nuts and bolts about every neighborhood. He’s also an avid boater and can share his family secrets about boating on the lake.
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