Lake Hartwell is a large reservoir located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia. It was created by damming the Savannah River and covers an area of approximately 56,000 acres. The counties that surround Lake Hartwell in Georgia are Hart County, Franklin County, and Stephens County, and in South Carolina, they are Anderson County, Oconee County, and Pickens County.
The lake is a popular destination for fishing, boating, swimming, and other water sports, and it is surrounded by scenic parks and recreation areas. The region around Lake Hartwell is known for its natural beauty and mild climate, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and golfing. The area is also home to a number of historic sites and cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and music venues. Here are 10 of the most popular activities to do around beautiful Lake Hartwell:
Boating: Lake Hartwell has over 56,000 acres of water, making it a perfect place for boating enthusiasts. You can rent a boat or bring your own and spend the day cruising around the lake, fishing or enjoying a picnic on the water. Here’s a short list of some of the most popular marinas:
Clemson Marina 864-653-6767
Portman Marina 864-287-3211
Big Water Marina 864-226-3339
Hartwell Marina 706-376-5441
Harbor Light Marina 706-356-4119
Fishing: Lake Hartwell is known for its excellent fishing opportunities and is home to a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and more. The lake is a popular destination for fishing tournaments in the United States, including:
Bassmaster Classic – one of the most prestigious fishing tournaments in the world attracting top anglers from around the globe.
FLW Tour – another major tournament series featuring some of the best anglers in the country.
Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship – teams of two compete for a chance to advance to the Bassmaster Classic.
T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League – this grassroots-level tournament series is open to all anglers, regardless of skill level. It takes place throughout the year at Lake Hartwell.
American Bass Anglers Weekend Series – another tournament series that is also open to all anglers and takes place throughout the year.
Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, you are sure to enjoy fishing on the lake. And if you’d like a local pro to help you reel ‘em in, here’s a quick list of some of top fishing guides around Lake Hartwell:
Hiking: The Lake Hartwell area is home to several beautiful hiking trails that offer incredible views of the lake and the surrounding area. Here are some of our most popular hiking spots around Lake Hartwell:
Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel – located in the nearby town of Walhalla, this hiking spot offers a 1.8-mile trail that takes you to a beautiful waterfall and an unfinished railroad tunnel.
Keowee-Toxaway State Park – stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Table Rock State Park – about 30 miles from Lake Hartwell, Table Rock has several hiking options including a challenging 7.2-mile trail to the summit of Table Rock Mountain, which features panoramic views of the area.
Clemson Experimental Forest – this forest offers over 17 miles of hiking trails through its lush forest and along its streams, with opportunities to see wildlife and explore old homestead sites.
Oconee Bell Nature Trail – this This hiking trail in South Carolina is known for its stunning displays of wildflowers, including the rare Oconee bell.
Lake Hartwell State Park – featuring several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, including a 1.5-mile nature trail that winds through the woods and along the lake.
Tugaloo State Park – has over seven miles of hiking trails that offer stunning views of Lake Hartwell. The trails range from easy to moderate, and visitors can also enjoy fishing, swimming, and camping.
Sadlers Creek State Park – offers more than five miles of trails that wind through hardwood forests and along the lake shore. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, boating, and camping. Chickasaw Point – popular hiking spot that offers stunning views of Lake Hartwell. The trails range from easy to moderate, and visitors can also enjoy fishing, swimming, and boating.
Camping: As you might expect, Lake Hartwell is a popular destination for camping and recreation
in the southeastern United States, with numerous options for lakeside camping and outdoor activities. Here are some of the best lakeside camping and recreation sites around Lake Hartwell:
Hartwell Lake Camping and Cabins – located on the Georgia side of the lake, this campground offers RV and tent camping, as well as cabins and cottages for rent. There are also hiking trails, fishing areas, and boat ramps available.
Twin Lakes Campground – this campground is located on the South Carolina side of the lake and offers RV and tent camping, as well as cabins for rent. The campground also has a swimming pool, playground, and a boat ramp.
Lake Hartwell State Park – on the South Carolina side of the lake this excellent park and offers camping, hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities. There are both RV and tent sites available, as well as a picnic area and playground.
Campground at Clemson Marina – near Clemson University this SC campground offers RV and tent camping, as well as cabins for rent. There are also boat rentals and a marina on site.
Sadlers Creek State Park – in SC this beautiful spot on the lake offers camping, hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities. There are both RV and tent sites available, as well as a playground and picnic area.
Poplar Springs Recreation Area – located on the Georgia side of the lake, this recreation area offers camping, fishing, and boating opportunities. There are both RV and tent sites available, as well as a boat ramp.
These are just a few of the many lakeside camping and recreation sites around Lake Hartwell. Be sure to check availability and make reservations in advance, especially during peak season.
Swimming: Lake Hartwell is a popular destination for swimming and water activities, and there are many great spots around the lake to enjoy a swim. Here are a few options:
Tugaloo State Park – situated on a wooded peninsula, Tugaloo is a popular destination for swimming, water skiing, sailing and boating. This beautiful park also offers cottages, campsites and private boat docks for overnight guests.
Singing Pines Recreation Area – this popular lake spot offers a large beach area for swimming and sunbathing, as well as picnic areas and a playground.
Paynes Creek – offers a beach area for swimming and a boat ramp for boating and fishing. Additionally the rec area at Paynes Creek offers 44 campsites, as well as a playground, a picnic shelter, and other amenities.
Sadlers Creek State Park – has a kid-friendly sandy beach for swimming, as well as picnic areas, hiking trails, and a playground.
Twin Lakes Campground – has a designated swimming area, as well as a boat ramp and fishing pier.
Anderson Beach – this beach area offers a swimming area with lifeguards on duty during the summer months, as well as picnic areas, volleyball courts, and a playground.
Please note that it's always a good idea to check with local authorities before swimming in any natural body of water to ensure it's safe and allowed.
Golfing: Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Lake Hartwell area is a popular destination year-round for golfers from around the world. Here’s ten of the most popular course, each offering exceptional scenery and challenging holes for golfers of all skill levels:
The Walker Course at Clemson University – this is consistently ranked as one of the best university golf courses in the country. It offers a challenging and well-maintained layout, with spectacular views of the lake.
Cateechee Golf Club – this award-winning course offers 18 holes of scenic beauty that challenge even the most skilled golfers. The Hartwell, GA course has hosted several state and regional championships and boasts a variety of elevation changes and water hazards.
Currahee Club – located on the north end of Lake Hartwell near Toccoa, GA, this private golf course is known for its challenging Jim Fazio design. Situated on a mountain ridge with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, Currahee has been recognized as one of the best courses in Georgia.
Cross Creek Plantation – this private golf club in Seneca, SC offers a stunning 18-hole course designed by P.B. Dye. The course features rolling hills, elevation changes, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It is a challenging course that will test even the most skilled golfers.
The Reserve at Lake Keowee – located in Sunset, SC, this Jack Nicklaus designed course features a picturesque layout that takes full advantage of the natural beauty of the area. The course measures over 7,100 yards from the back tees and features bentgrass greens, Bermuda fairways, and a variety of challenging hazards. Chickasaw Point Golf Course – located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Westminster SC, Chickasaw Point is challenging but fair, with a variety of holes that require accuracy and skill.
Stone Creek Cove Golf Club – located in Anderson, SC, this course offers a challenging and enjoyable layout. The course features undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and large, fast greens. Water comes into play on several holes, adding to the challenge and beauty of the course. Southern Oaks Golf Course – also located in Easley, SC, Southern Oaks is well-maintained and is suitable for players of all skill levels. The front nine is more open, while the back nine is more wooded and requires more precision.
Oconee Country Club – built in 1948 this semi-private golf club is located just outside the city limits of Seneca, SC. It is a relatively short course by today’s modern standards, but it provides the golfer with plenty of challenge off the tee and approach shots to its small, undulating greens.
Boscobel Golf Club – just minutes away from Clemson University in quaint Pendleton, SC, this meticulous course offers a rolling terrain of Bermuda fairways, Bentgrass greens, and a challenging, scenic layout.
Wine Tasting: With its mild climate and fertile soil, the Lake Hartwell area is home to numerous wineries that produce some of the finest wines in the Southeast. If you’re looking for wine tastings and tours, here’s some of the most popular wineries:
Boutier Winery & Inn – is situated in the temperate Piedmont Region of Georgia near Danielsville. The long growing season and constant breezes help keep fruit and foliage dry and encourage rich, ripe fruit and healthy vines. The nearly 32 acres are planted in Vinifera and French American grape varietals. The current crop includes Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Syrah, Corot Noir and Cynthiana.
Tiger Mountain Vineyards – located in nearby Rabun County, Tiger Mountain Vineyards is one of the most highly regarded wineries in Georgia. Known for their award-winning red wines, including Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Tiger Mountain also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Currahee Vineyards – just a short drive from Lake Hartwell, Currahee Vineyards is a family-owned winery that produces a variety of wines, including Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visitors can enjoy a tasting in the winery's cozy tasting room or take in the beautiful views of the vineyards from the outdoor patio.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards – located in the nearby town of Cleveland, Yonah Mountain is known for its European-style wines. Visitors can sample a variety of red, white, and sparkling wines while taking in the breathtaking views of Yonah Mountain.
12 Spies Vineyards – this family-owned winery in Rabun County offers a range of red, white, and sweet wines, all made from grapes grown on the property. Visitors can enjoy a tasting in the cozy tasting room or take a stroll through the vineyards.
Crane Creek Vineyards – located in nearby Young Harris, GA, Crane Creek offers a variety of wines, including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay. The winery's picturesque setting, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, makes it a popular spot for weddings and events.
Exploring Local Towns: The Lake Hartwell area is home to several charming towns offering
plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment options. Here’s five great towns to spend a day or evening:
Seneca, SC – this small town on the north end of Lake Hartwell is known for its quaint downtown area, which is home to shops, restaurants, and the Historic Ballenger House. Visitors can also take a stroll along the shore of Lake Keowee, which feeds into Lake Hartwell.
Lavonia, GA – this picturesque town has a historic downtown district that features several antique shops, cafes, and a train depot museum. Lavonia also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including a farmers market and a Christmas parade.
Hartwell, GA – as the namesake of the lake, Hartwell is a popular destination for boaters and anglers. But the town also has a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, and a historic courthouse that now serves as a museum. Visitors can also take a stroll through the beautiful five-acre Hart County Botanical Garden. Toccoa, GA – located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Toccoa is famous for being the starting point of the 555-mile-long Appalachian Trail. With a population of around 8,000 people. Toccoa is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreational activities, and historic landmarks. It is home to the Toccoa Falls, a 186-foot waterfall, and the Toccoa Falls College, a Christian liberal arts college.
Clemson, SC – while not technically a small town, Clemson is a vibrant college town that is home to Clemson University and a variety of restaurants, shops, and outdoor activities. Visitors can take a stroll through the South Carolina Botanical Garden or catch a football game at Memorial Stadium.
No matter which town you choose to visit, the area around Lake Hartwell offers plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Have Fun Antiquing: Antiquing is a unique and exciting activity for people who are interested in history and vintage items. One great place to explore for antique enthusiasts is the Lake Hartwell region, which spans across Georgia and South Carolina. This area is known for its stunning natural scenery, as well as its abundance of antique shops and markets. Spending a day antiquing around Lake Hartwell can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and here are some tips on how to make the most of it.
To get the most out of your antiquing adventure, it’s best to start early in the day. This way, you’ll have more time to explore and browse through the numerous shops and markets in the area. It’s also a good idea to check the store hours beforehand, as some may have different schedules on weekends or holidays.
Plan your route
Before you hit the road, it’s essential to plan your route. You can use a map or GPS to locate the antique shops and markets that you want to visit. The Lake Hartwell area has plenty of antique stores and markets, so it’s essential to prioritize your stops based on your interests and preferences. Some of the most popular places to visit include:
M. Tannery & Sons, Seneca, SC
East Antiques, Lavonia, GA
Memories Antiques, West Union, SC
Lavonia Antique Mall, Lavonia GA
All Things Aged, Anderson, SC
Old Clarksville Mill Art & Antiques, Clarksville, GA
Warther’s Originals, Walhalla SC
Apple Dumplin Antiques & Collectibles, Anderson, SC
Butterflies Consignment & Antiques, Hartwell, GA
Gerald Hunt Antiques, Elberton, GA
YaYa Sisters & Co., Bowman, GA
The Downtown Market, Royston, GA
Take your time
Antiquing is all about taking your time and enjoying the experience. Don’t rush through the stores or markets. Take your time to browse through the items and look for hidden gems. You never know what you might find in these stores, so be sure to take a closer look at everything. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or negotiate prices with the vendors.
Pack a snack
Antiquing can be a long and tiring day, so it’s important to pack some snacks and water to keep you energized and hydrated. You can also plan to stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the Lake Hartwell region. This is an excellent opportunity to rest, refuel, and discuss your favorite finds from the day.
Enjoy the scenery
Finally, don’t forget to take in the beautiful scenery around Lake Hartwell. The area is known for its picturesque landscapes, so take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. You can also plan to take a break from antiquing and explore the local parks or hiking trails. This will not only give you a break but also provide an opportunity to see more of the area's unique features.
Popular Cultural Sites and Attractions: Lake Hartwell, situated on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, offers plenty of cultural and historical attractions for visitors to explore. Some of the most popular cultural attractions, historical sites, historical homes, and places of interest in the Lake Hartwell region include:
Anderson County Museum – this museum features exhibits on the history of Anderson County, including exhibits on Native American history, the Civil War, and textiles.
Tugaloo State Park – located in Georgia, Tugaloo State Park offers hiking trails, camping, and a historic covered bridge that dates back to 1927.
Clemson University – a renowned research institution, Clemson boasts a beautiful campus that includes the South Carolina Botanical Garden, and a historic amphitheater. The university also manages several historical sites, including:
The Hanover House – a 300-year-old French Huguenot House
The Hopewell Plantation – former home of Andrew Pickens, Jr.
The Old Stone Church – now used for weddings, funerals, patriotic gatherings, etc. this historic structure reflects the area’s transition from frontier to antebellum South Carolina society.
Fort Hill Plantation – former home of John C. Calhoun
Historic Ballenger House – the Ballenger Family, prominent in the town of Seneca, gifted the home to the Seneca Women's Club for use of all citizens.
Historic Pendleton District – this historic district is home to a number of important landmarks and historic sites, including:
the Ashtabula Plantation, built in 1825 and is now open to the public for tours
the Woodburn Plantation, built in 1830 and is also open for tours
the Hunter's Store, built in 1808 and served as a community gathering place for many years
the Farmer's Hall, which was built in 1826 and served as a meeting place for farmers in the region.
The Historic Pendleton District is also home to a number of cultural events and festivals, including the Pendleton Spring Jubilee, which is held every year in April and features live music, arts and crafts, and food vendors.
Hagood Mill – built in 1845 by James Hagood, this grist mill remained in the family until 1966. Every third Saturday of the month, there is a festival held on the mill grounds with traditional Appalachian folk arts, demonstrations, and you can see the mill in action!
Oconee Station State Historic Site – located in South Carolina, this site was once a frontier outpost and includes a restored blockhouse, a trading post, and a nature trail.
Hartwell Dam and Lake – the Hartwell Dam and Lake were constructed in the 1950s as part of a flood control project, and today the lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports.
Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls – the Stumphouse Tunnel was once intended to be a railroad tunnel, but construction was halted during the Civil War. Nearby, Issaqueena Falls is a beautiful waterfall named after a Native American legend.
Hart County Historical Society Museum - This museum in Georgia features exhibits on the history of Hart County, including exhibits on Native American history, the Civil War, and local industry.
These are just a few of the many cultural and historical attractions in the Lake Hartwell region. Visitors to the area are sure to find plenty of interesting places to explore and learn about the rich history of the region.
In conclusion, Lake Hartwell is a wonderful, mild weather destination for anyone who loves the outdoor lake life, antique shopping, golfing, historical sites and cultural attractions, and more. There really is something for everyone around Lake Hartwell.