Great Falls Lake & Rocky Creek Lake, South Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - South Carolina - Olde English District -

Also known as:  Great Falls Reservoir, Rocky Creek Reservoir, Stumpy Pond, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Cedar Creek Lake

Some of the most spectacular paddling and fishing water in South Carolina’s Olde English District hides in plain sight between Fishing Creek Reservoir and Lake Wateree. Great Falls Lake and Rocky Creek Lake are actually part of the same Catawba River, separated by an island created by an artificial channel diverting the river’s flow for hydroelectric generation purposes. Great Falls Lake is the created reservoir, while Rocky Creek Lake is the original channel of the Catawba River south of Fishing Creek. Dams owned by Duke Energy contain both Great Falls Lake and Rocky Creek Reservoir, with hydroelectricity generated on both reservoirs.

Although Rocky Creek Lake is the better-known of the two, it goes by several names. The name of Rocky Creek Reservoir was given by Southern Power Company, the predecessor of Duke Energy. Many official publications call it Cedar Creek Reservoir. Most locals know it as Stumpy Pond. The entire water area is under the control of Duke Energy and has no improved recreational facilities along the many miles of shoreline.

Great Falls Lake has no public boat access, so boats must travel downstream from Fishing Creek Reservoir. Small Coffey Dam impounds the water into Great Falls Lake, which covers 477 acres. The water below that dam is used to generate hydropower at the Dearborn-Great Falls Powerhouse and Dam. Water passing over Coffey Dam and stretching around several islands along Cedar Creek becomes Rocky Creek Lake-the ‘Stumpy Pond’ of local fishing legend. Rocky Creek Lake terminates at the Cedar Creek Hydro Dam, with the river below it eventually becoming Big Wateree Creek flowing into Lake Wateree. And, although the small City of Great Falls lies on the western shore of Great Falls Lake above Dearborn Powerhouse, there is almost no development anywhere else along the 24 miles of shoreline.

Much of the eastern shoreline of Rocky Creek Lake is an unnamed wildlife management area. The islands are also uninhabited. Located at the geological juncture between harder underlying bedrock and softer coastal sediments, the South Carolina Fall Line crosses here, creating excellent elevation changes for development of dams and hydro power. This is what gave rise to the original power generation company at Great Falls that became massive Duke Energy. The same ‘fall’ line creates a rocky and scenic shoreline along much of both lakes. Rocky Creek Lake officially has 20 miles of shoreline around its 847-acre surface, but the large islands add many more miles. The islands were former hilltops and ridges, many of which now exist only as sandbars during periods of low water flow. The northern margins of Rocky Creek Lake are exposed boulders and ledges that once formed rapids and waterfalls.

Although popular Lake Wateree is just a few miles downstream, few people are aware of Great Falls Lake and Rocky Creek Lake except for those who have discovered the excellent fishing and paddlesport possibilities on Rocky Creek Lake. Canoeing and kayaking have become increasingly popular here. Three boat launch sites allow easy access for small boats. Two of the three have some parking, but no other facilities are provided. The launch site on Debutary Creek is especially popular with kayaking and canoeing clubs. The relatively quiet waters make for excellent beginner canoe and kayak outings, with the shallow channels between the islands particularly enjoyable. The wooded slopes around the lake hold deer, raccoon, squirrel, turkey, coyote, rabbit and other wildlife common to the area. A number of songbirds frequent the tree canopy surrounding the lake, while waterfowl are often seen along the shore. It’s easy to beach a small craft on an island to eat a picnic lunch before heading back.

Fishermen delight in the huge crappie that can be caught on Rocky Creek Lake. One-to-two-pound crappie aren’t uncommon, and area fishing guides schedule fishing trips to their secret hotspots. The lake also contains white bass, striped bass, panfish and channel catfish, so there’s something here for every angler. Due to the uneven terrain, the lake bottom holds a variety of fish-attracting structures, but only the experienced ‘Stumpy Pond’ angler is likely to know where they are. ‘Fish finder’ sonar is strongly recommended for those unaware of the lake bottom. Two boat launch sites add to the access from Debutary Creek; both the Stumpy Pond Access Area and the Cedar Creek Access Area have space for parking. Bank fishing is also possible at the Cedar Creek area.

Although locals sometimes swim in the lake, there is no designated swimming beach. Duke Energy has no current plans to provide more recreational facilities, so knowledge of the two lakes’ beauty and recreation remains mostly word-of-mouth. Lake Wateree to the south has several camping areas as does Fishing Creek Lake to the north. The Town of Great Falls is somewhat limited in lodgings, but there are small restaurants and stores selling supplies. Nearby Lancaster has more lodgings and guest cabins, and small motels near the river round out the possibilities for a good night’s rest.

Several historic locations nearby offer history buffs some enjoyable viewing. Andrew Jackson State Park has restored buildings and monuments to the country’s seventh president. Lancaster is home to a railroad museum that includes an antique children’s train ride. Landsford Canal State Park showcases the preserved remnants of the once-busy canal system that facilitated river navigation in the 1800s. One of the outstanding natural features of the park are the spider lilies that flourish in the shallow, rapidly-moving water. Late May and early June find these special plants in full, glorious bloom.

So, pack the fishing gear and load up the canoe or kayak. Great Falls Lake and Rocky Creek Lake await your discovery.

*Statistics listed are for Rocky Creek Lake only.

Things to do at Great Falls Lake & Rocky Creek Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Great Falls Lake & Rocky Creek Lake

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Striped Bass
  • White Bass

Great Falls Lake & Rocky Creek Lake Photo Gallery

    Great Falls Lake & Rocky Creek Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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