Hartwell Lake, Georgia & South Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Georgia - Northeast Georgia Mountains - South Carolina - The Upcountry -

Also known as:  Lake Hartwell

So large it covers parts of six counties in two states, Lake Hartwell draws millions of visitors a year to play on its 56,000 acres of water. With plenty of water for boating, water skiing and fishing, it has become one of the most popular recreation lakes in the southeast. Lake Hartwell in the Northeast Georgia Mountains and Upcountry South Carolina is one of the most visited US Army Corps of Engineer lakes in the nation.

The US Army Corps of Engineers created Lake Hartwell for flood control, navigation and hydro electric power. Today it is also used as a water supply reservoir. Construction on Hartwell Dam, seven miles downstream from where the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers join the Savannah River, started in 1955. The reservoir was completed in 1963 and extends 49 miles up the Tugaloo River and 45 miles up the Seneca River. Hartwell Lake’s outflow is the Savannah River. The Corps maintains a summer pool of 660 feet MSL (mean sea level) and a winter pool of about four feet lower. Along with Hart County and the Town of Hartwell, Lake Hartwell was name after Nancy Morgan Hart. Mrs. Hart moved to Georgia with her husband Benjamin in 1771. She raised eight children, and her escapades during the Revolutionary War are legendary.

The Hartwell project includes 76,450 acres of water and land and covers parts of Hart, Franklin, and Stephens counties in South Carolina and Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties in Georgia. Lake Hartwell’s 962-mile shoreline is surrounded by Corps-controlled land and four state parks. The Corps maintains several campgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps and a visitor center at the dam. Lake Hartwell is one of the top five visited Corps sites in the United States.

Anglers come to Hartwell Lake for the striped bass fishing. Also known as rock fish, a fish over 60 pounds was caught in Lake Hartwell, and fish in excess of 20 pounds are common. There are also healthy populations of crappie, bream, catfish, hybrid bass and largemouth bass. Because of PCB’s in the water there have been fish advisories in effect since 1976 (see sidebar link).

There are two state parks on the Georgia side of the lake and two on the South Carolina side. Hart State Park, now known as Hart State Outdoor Recreation Area, covers 147 acres near Hartwell, Georgia. It includes a campground, boat ramp, and trails for hiking and biking. Tugaloo State Park is also in Georgia. Its 393 acres include a boat ramp, swimming beach, and a waterfront campground. There are also canoe and cottage rentals, hiking trails, and a mini golf course. Near the Georgia – South Carolina border, the Lake Hartwell State Recreation Area is 680 acres in Oconee County, South Carolina. The recreation area has a campground and cabins rentals. There are also hiking trails and a boat ramp. Sadlers Creek State Recreation Area is on a peninsula in Anderson County, South Carolina. It is 395 acres and includes a campground, boat ramp and hiking trails.

Lake Hartwell is less than two hours from both Atlanta and Charlotte. Interstate 85 bisects the lake providing easy access, and there are several towns near the lake with various accommodations and amenities. The town of Hartwell, which shares its name with the lake, has vacation rentals and real estate for sale for those wishing to extend their stay.

Lake Hartwell’s size ensures that there is room for everyone and more than enough to do. Its proximity to Atlanta and Charlotte make it the perfect weekend destination and a fantastic southern getaway.

Things to do at Hartwell Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • State Park
  • Miniature Golf

Fish species found at Hartwell Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass

Hartwell Lake Photo Gallery

Hartwell Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Not Known

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 55,900 acres

Shoreline Length: 962 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 660 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 643 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 666 feet

Average Depth: 45 feet

Maximum Depth: 185 feet

Water Volume: 2,550,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1963

Drainage Area: 2,088 sq. miles

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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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