J. Strom Thurmond Lake, Georgia & South Carolina, USA
Also known as: Lake Strom Thurmond, J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, Clarks Hill Lake, Thurmond Lake
Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at J. Strom Thurmond Lake.
If you’re considering J. Strom Thurmond Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our J. Strom Thurmond Lake guide!
J. Strom Thurmond Lake visitor and community guide
J. Strom Thurmond Lake, aka Clarks Hill Lake, holds the title of second largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River. Straddling the Georgia-South Carolina border, the lake encompasses a mind-boggling surface area of 71,000 acres, and welcomes millions of visitors per year. This enormous body of water touches seven counties and the Savannah, Broad, and Little Rivers. With such stunning natural beauty and a wide variety of things to do, it comes as no surprise that this has been one of the top ten most visited US Army Corps of Engineers lakes in the country for decades.
Constructed between 1946 and 1954, Lake J. Strom Thurmond’s original use was for hydroelectric power, flood control, and water navigation. Originally, the lake was to be called “Clarks Hill Dam;” however, the “s” was omitted (a clerical error), and it was christened “Clark Hill Dam.” This name was corrected and then controversially changed once again in 1987, in honor of Senator Strom Thurmond – a man notorious for vehemently opposing civil rights and anti-segregation legislation in the 1950s and 60’s.
Today, J. Strom Thurmond Lake’s functions have been expanded to include water storage, wildlife management and recreation. Clarks Hill Lake also boasts an incredible 1,200 miles of shoreline. Beautiful houses and recreational areas accent these imposing woodland landscapes. More than 250 islands sprinkle the lake’s glassy waters, thanks to the Thurmond Dam – a concrete and earth embankment 2,282 feet long and 200 feet high with an impressive 23-gate spillway.
Canoeing, kayaking, and boating are the best ways to explore all of the hidden nooks and crannies that Clarks Hill Lake has to offer. Fishing is a breeze because of the various fish attractors throughout the lake – the most interesting being recycled Christmas trees that were purposefully sunk to this end. Crappie, bream, catfish and striped, hybrid and largemouth bass are prevalent. Hunting is permitted on over 55,000 acres of adjacent land. Three of the area’s most popular hiking trails consist of the eight-mile Bartram Trail, the 12.4- mile Bussey Point Horse Trail, and the 3.5-mile Shriver Creek Trail; numerous short interpretive trails are also prevalent, and real estate properties and vacation rentals are available. Facilities at Clarks Hill Lake include fishing piers, picnic areas and a visitor center.
Aside from Thurmond Lake, two other bodies on the Savannah River are managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers – Hartwell and Richard B. Russell Lakes. Among them, challenging hiking trails reward adventurers with unparalleled views from atop lush, rolling hilltops. Camping grounds offer convenient places to pitch a tent and cook up a hearty evening meal. Numerous playgrounds are widely available, providing ideal distractions and social hangouts for children.
Astoundingly, nine day use facilities and six national parks also surround Lake Strom Thurmond. South Carolina’s Sumpter National Forest is comprised of 371,000 acres run by the USDA Forest Service; white water rafting down the Chattooga River and camping throughout the Ellicott Rock Wilderness areas are the forest’s claims to fame. Three primary South Carolina State Parks are contiguous with the lake – Baker Creek, Hamilton Branch, and Hickory Knob. Across the border, Georgia’s Mistletoe State Park offers rustic log cabins, challenging mountain biking trails, and fantastic bass fishing opportunities. Bobby Brown and Elijah Clark State Parks can also be found close by.
Whether you call it Clarks Hill Lake, J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir or Thurmond Lake, you’ll never find a dull moment in this part of the South. If you wonder why this sparkling body of water is so immensely popular – come discover the fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities that this immaculate lake has to offer.
Custom J. Strom Thurmond Lake house decor
Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.
Things to do at J. Strom Thurmond Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Whitewater Rafting
- Cabin Rentals
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
- State Park
- National Park
- National Forest
Fish species found at J. Strom Thurmond Lake
- Black Bass
- Largemouth Bass
Best hotels and vacation rentals at J. Strom Thurmond Lake
The J. Strom Thurmond Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.
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.
J. Strom Thurmond Lake photo gallery
New photos coming soon!
J. Strom Thurmond Lake statistics & helpful links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 71,000 acres
Shoreline Length: 1,200 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 330 feet
Average Depth: 36 feet
Maximum Depth: 180 feet
Water Volume: 1,730,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1954
Drainage Area: 6,150 sq. miles
We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.
Advertise your J. Strom Thurmond Lake vacation rental
LakeLubbers will soon offer homeowners and property managers the opportunity to to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily for accommodations. If you’d like additional details, please contact our advertising team here.
Looking for the J. Strom Thurmond Lake forum?
LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.
Spread the word! Share our J. Strom Thurmond Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!