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The 7 Best Hiking Trails Near Lake Hartwell

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Lake Hartwell boasts some of the most beautiful nature in the area. From water views of the lake to tall trees providing ample shade on the hiking paths, hiking at Lake Hartwell is a favorite pastime. If you are unsure where to start your hiking journey, this guide will help you find some of the best hiking spots at Lake Hartwell on both the South Carolina and the Georgia side.

Family hiking at Lake Hartwell including seniors and children

Where To Go Hiking at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

There are plenty of options for both the beginner and the advanced hiker when it comes to South Carolina trails around Lake Hartwell. While all of these trails offer amazing scenery, always remember basic hiker safety tips and watch out for copperhead snakes.

The Foothills Trail {Advanced with Beginner-Friendly Option}

If you really want to have a challenging hike, you could try to hike the entirety of the Foothills Trail. Be forewarned—this isn’t for a novice hiker.

This trail is 76 miles long and takes about 5-10 days to finish entirely, depending on how many miles you opt to hike per day. The effort is well worth it as it boasts some of the most stunning views in the state including several waterfalls.

If you aren’t quite up for devoting your entire vacation to hiking the Foothills, you can also opt to just hike sections of the trail. This can be a good way to see some of the trail highlights without committing to 10 days in the woods.

Backpackers at field near Lake Hartwell, GA

Beach Bluff Trail {Easy}

This simple hiking trail is a part of Lake Hartwell State Park. If you do a full loop, the trail is about 1.2 miles long—perfect for a family hike. The trail is short, yet hilly and is a dirt path that winds through a pine and oak forest.

This Lake Hartwell hike will give you scenic views of the lake as well as creeks, ravines, and terraces created by farmers from years past. This is a great spot to watch for wildlife like lizards, snakes, fox, and birds as well as view some very bright and colorful wildflowers. If you need an even shorter option, the trail can be hiked for .7 miles before returning to where you started, or keep it a bit longer by following a looped paved road.

Family of 4 hiking bridge over Lake Hartwell

Hagood Mill {Easy}

This hike will require you taking a short drive from the lake, but it’s worth the trip. This is a unique opportunity to view a working gristmill originally built in 1825. The area has a wooded walking trail that is just under a mile long which makes it an ideal family hike.

Plus, once you are done hiking, the kids can explore the historic site which has a traditional barn with a farming exhibit, two log cabins built in 1791 and 1925, a blacksmith shop, a cotton gin building, and moonshine still.

Additionally, if you time your hike correctly, you can plan on being there during one of the monthly folklife festival and concert series where you can enjoy Americana and bluegrass music from the large outdoor stage.

Issaquena Dam Trails {Moderate}

Lake Issaqueena offers a pretty trail called Collarbone Trail. This loop is a 4.7-mile long trail where you will see beautiful wildflowers. Other views include the dam, wooded paths, creeks, and the water. This trail is mostly flat, and dogs are able to use the trail. However, there is plenty of wildlife including wild hogs, so owners should be cautious and keep pets on leashes at all times.

The Best Hiking Trails at Lake Hartwell, Georgia

The Georgia side of the lake offers dozens of trails for you to explore. The options range from challenging to easy, with all trails offering stunning scenery of the area. Here are some of our favorite hiking trails to try around Lake Hartwell, GA.

Man hiking solo at Lake Hartwell

Hartwell Dam Trail {Easy}

Hartwell Dam Trail is a fairly flat, paved trail that is great for strollers and wheelchairs. The trail features a lake as well as an impressive view of the Lake Hartwell Dam. The trail is 2.8 miles long and gets moderate traffic with other hikers who are seeking time with nature. Bird watching is a popular sport in the area, and dogs may also use the trail as long as they are properly leashed.

Paynes Creek Hiking Trail {Moderate}

If you are looking for a somewhat challenging hike near Lake Hartwell that can be completed in a day, Paynes Creek is a great option. This trail is a 6.4-mile loop that boasts some of the most picturesque views in the area, with plenty of water views as well as forested areas.

It’s best to refer to a map for this hike, as some reviewers found the signage a bit confusing.

Hiking couple with map discussing over direction in forest at Lake Hartwell

Victoria State Park {Moderate}

A bit more of a challenging loop is the 5.8 mile trail at Victoria Bryant State Park. The area has beautiful wildflowers, and plenty of nature to explore including flora and fauna. The dirt trails can be a bit more difficult to navigate after inclement weather, so use caution.

Insider tip: watch for the beaver dam section where you can watch busy beavers at work building their structures.

Toccoa Falls {Easy to Moderate}

A short drive from Lake Hartwell there exists one of the most impressive waterfalls you can hike to. You absolutely must add this amazing location to your hiking list.

The falls are located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College, and there is easy, handicapped access to the base of the falls. Additional trails that meander through the woods around the waterfall only add to the splendor of this unique location.

That’s our list of hiking trails near Lake Hartwell

Which one are you most excited about? Or do you have any hidden gems to share?

Share your experience in the comments below!

Where to go hiking at Lake Hartwell. Beginner and advanced hikes!
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