Hartwell Lake, Georgia & South Carolina, USA

Also known as:  Lake Hartwell

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Hartwell Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Hartwell Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Hartwell Lake

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

Find Places to Stay at Hartwell Lake

If you’re considering a Hartwell Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Hartwell Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Hartwell Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Hartwell Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


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