Lake Keowee – Lake Jocassee – Lake Hartwell

by Olivier De Winne
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Lake Keowee, Lake Jocassee and Lake Hartwell are man-made lakes. They are very close to each other in the state of South Carolina. South Carolina is filled with history, culture and lovely cuisine. You need to try the Frogmore stew also called Lowcountry Boil or Beaufort Stew. This is a very simple but delicious dish.  You will also enjoy eating fresh shrimp, corn, sausage and redskin potatoes.

South Carolina was the home of the Cherokee and Catbawba tribes before the Spanish and French explorers. For a long period of time, South Carolina was home for many slaves. All this diversity has left the state with a lot of history.

Lake Keowee, South Carolina

Lake Keowee, South Carolina is in Oconee County at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is an 18,000-acre site and the lake measures 20 miles (32 Km) in length with a deepest depth of 800 feet (244 meters). Lake Keowee is located close to metropolitan life.  You can find entertainment, arts and culture nearby at Greenville, South Carolina. It is easy to understand why more and more people want to be retired or relocate to this area. It offers a very good quality of life and cultural experiences.


How to get to Lake Keowee, South Carolina

By air:

The nearest commercial airport is the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport. It is located 51 miles east of Lake Keowee. This airport has direct flights available from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Orlando, Nashville, Philadelphia and Tampa.

From the airport, you can rent a car and the journey to Lake Keowee will be approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, depending on the traffic. If you don’t want to rent a car, you could take a taxi or, the cheapest option, an Uber. The cost will be around $100 for the taxi and $50 for the Uber.

By Road:

Lake Keowee is easily accessible by car. From Atlanta, Georgia or Greenville you need to use the Interstate 85.

From the south, you need to take the Interstate 85 to Highway 11 North Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.

From the north, you need to take the Interstate 85 to US 76 and go north.

What to Do in Lake Keowee, South Carolina

As you can imagine, Lake Keowee has plenty of water activities.

  1. You can enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, water bikes or rafting nearby.

2. You can rent a boat from the Lake Keowee Marina for a half or full day. Check out the Lake Keowee Marina for the latest prices.

3. There are many events taking places on Lake Keowee. If you are here for the 4th July, you can experience an amazing firework display on the lake.

4. You can watch a free movie on the water at the world of Energy. In the same location, you can experience interactive experiences for kids during the months of June and July.

5. It is also possible to grab a chair and go and listen to Jazz at the Jazz on the Alley on Ram every Thursday evening. The show starts at 6:30 pm but can be postponed until 7:00 pm in hot weather. For more information and the full programme, you need to check the official website.

6. The best place to eat is the Lighthouse. It is the best dining experience on Lake Keowee. The restaurant offers a panoramic lake and mountain views from every table. They have outdoor seating as well.

7. There are many waterfalls in the area of Lake Keowee, but the Issaqueena Falls/Stumphouse Tunnel is very to access by a short walking trail. You will discover a beautiful 200 ft (60 meters) fall.

8. If you want to experience fishing, you will have plenty of opportunities on Lake Keowee. A half-mile trail provides access to Lake Keowee where you can fish with a valid fishing license. You will enjoy catching different fish such as catfish, crappie, bass and bream. Alternatively, you can take a tour with a fishing company and, at the same time, enjoy a boat ride whilst fishing.

9. If you feel you need culture, you can go to Greenville and enjoy museums like the Greenville County Museum of Art or the American Legion Post Military History Museum.

10. If you love wildlife, you can also go bird watching. On Lake Keowee, over 75 species of birds have been reported.

Can You Swim in The Lake Keowee, South Carolina?

Yes you can swim in the lake Keowee, but you need to know there isn’t a designated area to swim and there isn’t a lifeguard. Swimming is permitted but at your own risk.

Lake Keowee can be dangerous.  In the past 25 years, 32 people have lost their lives according to the Oconee County Coroner’s Office. The most dangerous place is Fall Creek Landing which is popular for swimming and boating.  Of the 32 people who died, 17 were found here, so avoid jumping from the rocky outcrops which is extremely dangerous. Use you common sense to avoid any problems and to enjoy your stay.

There are also possibilities to dive in Lake Keowee. It is a fun place to dive even if the water isn’t as clear as Lake Jocassee.  Did you know there is a hot spot where the water stays around 75 degrees? The water gets its warmth from the turbines of the cooling system of the nuclear power plant.

Lake - Keowee

Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Lake Jocassee in South Carolina is above Lake Keowee. It is 300 feet deep (91 meters) with an area of 7,500 acres (30Km2 ). The lake is the cleanest and the coolest in the area.  The source of the lake is the Appalachian mountain rivers which fall from dozens of waterfalls which are only visible by boat. The lake has kept its rugged appearance and there is no construction along the shoreline.

Visiting this lake, will really make you feel you are in the deep wilderness. The lake is part of the Devils Fork State Park. Before the construction of the dam, most buildings were demolished but recently divers have found the intact remains of a lodge with 300 feet of water above. The landscape of Lake Jocassee is really beautiful.  You can enjoy lovely pictures of it from afar, but you need to go there in person to experience the breath-taking view.

How to get to Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

By air:

As for Lake Keowee, the nearest commercial airport is the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport which is located 60 miles east of Lake Keowee (see above for more information).

By Road:

Lake Jocassee is easily accessible by car. The journey will be around 1hour 40 minutes from Greenville.

What to do in Lake Jocassee, South Carolina

Lake Jocassee is a paradise for aquatic activities and nature lovers.  Here are some examples of what you can do:

  1. The beauty Lake Jocassee is the waterfalls. There are 4 major waterfalls in the area, but it’s only possible to see them by renting a boat.  The price varies depending on the season and the length of the boat.  It costs between $200 for 4 hours and $265 for 8 hours (smallest boat). This is a great experience.

2. Lake Jocassee is a paradise for divers.  The crystal-clear water makes every dive special. The visibility is on average 20-30 feet and sometimes up to 60 feet. It is the best kept diving secret!  Here you will discover houses, graveyards and training platforms. It’s great fun to dive here!

3. Fishing is another good activity which you can experience at Lake Jocassee. This lake is a playground for all types of fishermen. You have access to numerous species of fish. It doesn’t matter if you are novice or an expert, you will find a challenge for you. If you are not sure and you want advice from professional, you can hire a fishing guide or charter a boat. You need to have a valid South Carolina fishing license to be able to fish legally. Further information can be found on the Devil Folks State Park website.

4. Rent a canoe or a kayak to enjoy the lake from the surface. This is always fun to do with kids.

5. Hiking trails are a great experience at Lake Jocassee. The Bear Cove Trail is a 2-mile loop in a hardwood forest. The starting point is in the Day Use area. If you want a gentler hike, you can have a go at the Oconee Bell Nature Trail.  This trail is one-mile loop through wildflowers which can be see along the path between mid-March to early April.

6. There are plenty of events on the Lake during the summer period.  Whether you like art, nature or outdoor adventures, you will find something for all the family. Check the state park website for a full programme of events.


Can You Swim in Lake Jocasse, South Carolina?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Jocassee, but as with Lake Keowee, there isn’t lifeguard or a designated swimming area.  Swimming is at your own risk.

Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

Lake Hartwell, South Carolina is one of the largest lakes in the southeast. It has a surface area of 56,000 acres (230 Km²) and the maximum depth is 185 feet (56 meters). One of the most popular activities at Lake Hartwell is fishing.

How to get to Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

Lake Hartwell is the most easily accessible lake.  You just need to take the Interstate 85 which bisects Hartwell Lake.

The closest airport is the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport.  From here, you can rent a car and take the Interstate 85 until Lake Hartwell.

What to do in Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

  1. The main activity on Lake Hartwell is fishing. Many fish species have her habitat in this lake, such as bream, catfish, smallmouth bass, walleye and largemouth bass. Catching a 20lb fish is very common and many 60lb+ fish have been caught.

2. You can rent a boat to enjoy the lake.

3. If you enjoy hiking, take the Beech Bluff Trail which is an easy dirt path through a quiet forest of pine and oak. You will pass scenic views of Lake Hartwell.

4. You can enjoy bird watching along the park nature trail. Hawks, owls and other birds of prey can be spotted.

5. There are plenty of events during the summer period. Whether you like art, nature or outdoor adventures, you will find something for all the family. Check the state park website for a full programme of events.


Can You Swim in Lake Hartwell, South Carolina?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Hartwell, but like Lake Keowee, there isn’t a lifeguard or a designated swimming area. So, you swim at your own risk.

Lake Keowee – Lake Jocassee – Lake Hartwell – South Carolina Lodging

If you want to stay overnight in the park, you have access to camping with tents and RVs. Otherwise, there are limited camper cabins available to rent as well for those of you who want a hard roof over your head. Booking in advance is recommended especially in summertime. For more information, check the state park website.

To learn more about South Carolina check the visitor website

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