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Lake Living in South Carolina: Embrace the Serenity and Fun

Lake Living at The Cliffs
Published on May 18, 2023

When it comes to picturesque lake living, South Carolina delivers. With its stunning lakes, vibrant communities, and abundance of activities, the Palmetto State offers the perfect backdrop for a fulfilling and fun-filled lake lifestyle. Twelve major lakes call South Carolina home, and three of the best can be found within an hour’s drive from Greenville, the cultural and entertainment center of the upstate. See what makes Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee, and Lake Jocassee special destinations.


Lake Hartwell

Lake Hartwell stretches across the borders of South Carolina and Georgia, encompassing approximately 56,000 acres. Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, the lake was formed by damming the Savannah River and serves as an essential source of hydroelectric power, flood control, and water supply for the region. Its vast expanse, surrounded by lush forests, rolling hills, and charming waterfront communities, makes it a captivating sight to behold.

Recreation and Outdoor Activities

Lake Hartwell is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an abundance of recreational activities for visitors of all ages. Boating, fishing, swimming, and water sports take center stage on the lake's pristine waters. The calm coves and open expanses of the lake create an ideal environment for sailing, water skiing, jet skiing, and kayaking. Anglers are drawn to Lake Hartwell for its superb fishing opportunities, with an abundance of bass, catfish, and crappie waiting to be caught.

Surrounding the lake, numerous parks and campgrounds provide ample opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and bird-watching. Popular spots such as Sadlers Creek State Recreation Area and Lake Hartwell State Park offer well-maintained trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural splendor of the area.

Sporting Events and Community

Lake Hartwell has become a hub for water-based sporting events and tournaments. The lake's ample size and favorable conditions have made it a preferred location for professional and amateur fishing competitions, sailing regattas, and waterskiing championships. These events not only showcase the skills of participants but also create a sense of camaraderie among the lake's vibrant community.

Rich History and Cultural Significance

Beyond its natural allure, Lake Hartwell holds a significant place in South Carolina's history. The lake is named after Nancy Hart, a renowned Revolutionary War hero who fought against the British in the region. The area surrounding Lake Hartwell is dotted with historical landmarks, including the Georgia Guidestones, a mysterious granite monument, and the Hartwell Dam, a testament to the engineering marvel that shaped the landscape.

Gateway to Exploration

Lake Hartwell serves as a gateway to exploring the charm of South Carolina's Upcountry region. Nearby, the city of Clemson boasts a vibrant college town atmosphere, with Clemson University adding to the youthful energy and cultural offerings. Visitors can explore museums, enjoy sporting events, or simply revel in the lively atmosphere.


Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee owes its existence to Duke Energy, which constructed the reservoir in 1971 for hydroelectric power generation. The reservoir was formed by damming the Keowee River, resulting in a substantial body of water that now delights visitors and locals alike. 

Expansive Dimensions

Stretching across an impressive expanse, Lake Keowee spans about 18,500 acres, making it one of the largest bodies of water in the upstate of South Carolina. Its length stretches approximately 26 miles, while its width reaches around 3 miles at its broadest point. Such dimensions allow for leisurely boat rides and exhilarating water sports. The reservoir's size is not limited to its surface area alone. Lake Keowee boasts over 300 miles of picturesque shoreline, with numerous coves, inlets, and sandy beaches waiting to be discovered. 

Diverse Fishing Opportunities

Lake Keowee's impressive size accommodates a diverse ecosystem that supports a variety of fish species. Anglers are drawn to the lake's bountiful waters, where they can cast their lines in pursuit of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, and bream. The abundance of fish makes for an exciting and rewarding fishing experience for enthusiasts of all skill levels. This section highlights the diverse fishing opportunities available in Lake Keowee.

Crystal-Clear Waters

One of the most remarkable features of Lake Keowee is its strikingly clear water, which gives visitors the feeling of swimming in a natural paradise. The lake's transparency, caused by the absence of suspended particles and pollutants, allows for incredible visibility, making it a haven for water enthusiasts. Whether you're swimming, boating, kayaking, or fishing, you'll be able to appreciate the pristine beauty that lies beneath the water's surface.

Lakeside Living and Amenities

Beyond its size and recreational offerings, Lake Keowee serves as a scenic backdrop for lakeside living. Numerous communities and developments such as The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards, The Cliffs at Keowee Falls, and The Cliffs at Keowee Springs have flourished along its shores, attracting residents who seek a harmonious blend of natural beauty and modern conveniences. These waterfront neighborhoods boast stunning views and access to a range of amenities, making lakeside living a dream come true for many. 


Lake Jocassee

The construction of the Jocassee Dam in the late 1960s gave birth to the lake. The dam was built as part of a hydroelectric project aimed at harnessing the energy potential of the region's rivers. The Whitewater, Thompson, and Toxaway Rivers were dammed, and the resulting reservoir, named Lake Jocassee, began to take shape.

The Role of Nature

While Lake Jocassee is a man-made reservoir, its allure lies in the fact that it seamlessly integrates with the surrounding natural environment. The region's steep valleys and dense forests provide a picturesque backdrop, with the lake's pristine waters blending harmoniously with the mountains. The result is a breathtaking landscape that draws visitors from far and wide.

Size and Dimensions

Lake Jocassee boasts impressive dimensions that make it a substantial body of water as it spans four counties—Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, and Greenville. Lake Jocassee covers an expansive surface area of approximately 7,500 acres (around 30 square kilometers), offering ample room for various recreational activities. Its shoreline stretches for approximately 75 miles (120 kilometers) allowing a diverse range of experiences, from leisurely strolls along the water's edge to exploring secluded coves and hidden inlets. One of Lake Jocassee's remarkable features is its depth. At its deepest point, the lake reaches a staggering depth of 350 feet (107 meters). This depth creates an underwater world teeming with aquatic life, including trout, bass, and various other fish species, making it a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Recreational Opportunities

The vast size of Lake Jocassee opens up a wealth of recreational opportunities for visitors. Boating enthusiasts can take to the waters and explore the lake's nooks and crannies, while kayakers and canoeists can revel in the tranquility of its calm coves. Anglers can cast their lines and try their luck at catching prized fish, while swimmers and sunbathers can enjoy the sandy beaches dotted along the shoreline. Additionally, hiking trails, camping areas, and picnic spots are available, inviting nature lovers to explore the surrounding wilderness.


Dive In

Living by the lakes in South Carolina’s upstate presents a world of adventure, serenity, and endless enjoyment. From the allure of Hartwell, Keowee, and Jocasee to the vibrant communities that surround them, there's something for everyone seeking the lake lifestyle. Whether you're indulging in water sports, relaxing on sandy beaches, exploring nature trails, or savoring lakeside dining, lake living offers an array of activities to make every day a memorable experience. So, dive into the charm of lake living in South Carolina and embrace the serenity and fun that await you in this beautiful state.