Bear Creek Reservoir, Georgia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Georgia - Northeast Georgia Mountains -

Also known as:  Bear Creek Lake

Bear Creek Reservoir is an infant as far as reservoirs go; it was completed and dedicated in 2002. In August 2009 anglers and boaters finally had a place to put in their crafts as construction of a public boat ramp was finally completed. Now the 505 acre lake is well on its way to becoming a fixture in the Northeast Georgia Mountains tourism region. Even at its young age, the lake looks like it has been there forever, as towering trees line the banks and large fish swim the water.

The Georgia General Assembly created the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority in 1994 at the request of four counties: Barrow, Jackson, Oconee and Athens-Clarke. The Authority oversees Bear Creek Reservoir, including its design and creation. A dam 90 feet wide impounds the reservoir. Its construction required nearly 400,000 cubic yards of earth. Construction of the dam and reservoir cost about $47 million dollars. Its purpose is to provide a raw water supply and water treatment to Barrow, Jackson, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties.

For a long time anglers just had access to Bear Creek Reservoir from the shore, even though a fishery was a part of the plan from the beginning. The Department of Natural Resources even stocked the water with hybrid bass, but the aftermath of 9-11 and Homeland Security concerns caused delays in allowing access to the reservoir for anything other than bank fishing at the designated public area. Nearly eight years after the dedication, a public boat launch has been constructed. Now anglers have a try at the big fish swimming the reservoir at its deepest, 70 feet. Bear Creek Reservoir is undergoing residential development, so contact a local real estate agent to find your dream lake home or lot.

You will find the Bear Creek Reservoir along Highway 330 in Jackson County. The city of Jefferson runs the boat launch. Anglers will find the water filled with catfish, bass, brim, and crappie. Boaters will need to take note: only trolling motors are allowed on Bear Creek Reservoir; diesel and gas engines are prohibited. All crafts must be 20 feet or less in length. There is a fee, and you can only access the water when the ramp is open. No swimming is allowed in the reservoir.

Bird waters will enjoy spying waterfowl on Bear Creek Reservoir. There are four good observation areas. One is along the dam on Savage Road. American pipits and sparrows are common in the winter. In the summer common yellowthroats are frequent visitors. From Savage Road take a right onto Old Savage Road for a look at some of the quiet bays of the reservoir. Wood ducks and hooded mergansers enjoy the back waters of the reservoir. A third observation area is along Route 330. It is a fishing pull-off and small parking area. From there it is a short walk down to the water’s edge for a good look at the lake. Another pull-off is along a hill about a half mile down the road. At this spot you can see the bay behind the water control facilities.

After spending days on the water, you may want to check out the surrounding area’s numerous opportunities for entertainment. Bear Creek Reservoir is in Jackson County. The county is also home of the University of Georgia. Fall brings the campus to life as the Bulldog football team vies for the SEC title. The Georgia Museum of Art is also on the UGA campus. The permanent collection includes nineteenth and twentieth century American paintings, American, European, and Asian works on paper and the Samuel H. Kress Study Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings. The UGA Performing Arts Center has a yearly performing arts series offering different genres of dance and music.

The Georgia Museum of Natural History is in Athens, a short jaunt from Bear Creek Reservoir. The collections of archaeological, biological, geological, and paleontological materials are studied by University of Georgia students and viewed by the public. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is three miles from the UGA campus. More than 300 acres are included in the complex with portions bordering the Middle Oconee River. The Botanical Gardens feature special collections and specialty gardens. A tropical conservatory displays a broad array of native and exotic plants. Five miles of nature trails offer serene paths natural areas of the grounds.

Just a short drive from Bear Creek Reservoir is the Crawford W. Long Museum. Dr. Long was the first to use ether for surgical anesthesia. His personal artifacts and documents as well as early anesthesia equipment are displayed in the Medical Museum. One of the buildings in the museum complex is the 1858 Pendergrass Store building houses a recreated 1840’s doctor’s office and apothecary shop. Exhibits on making medicine and early treatments help tell the story of an early country doctor and the obstacles he needed to overcome.

Bear Creek Reservoir offers vacationers an opportunity to meander the placid waters of one of Georgia’s newest lakes and a chance to reel in a fish worthy of a tale. The off water activities in the area are diverse enough to offer something for everyone in the family.

Things to do at Bear Creek Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum

Fish species found at Bear Creek Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie

Bear Creek Reservoir Photo Gallery

    Bear Creek Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority

    Surface Area: 505 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 695 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 702 feet

    Maximum Depth: 70 feet

    Water Volume: 15,344 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 2002

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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