Lake Murray, South Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - South Carolina - Capital City & Lake Murray Country -

The kayak slips quietly through the water, dipping in and out of the finger coves that fringe the lake. The sun is just peeking over the horizon. For a few more hours, she’ll have Lake Murray to herself — almost anyway. It’s a fantastic fishing lake, known for trophy-sized striped bass, so the anglers are out in force. Lake Murray, however, is so large that signs welcome visitors to “Lake Murray Country.” With over 48,000 acres of water and nearly 650 miles of shoreline, there is more than enough room for both her kayak and the fishing boats. In a couple hours, when the power boats are pulling water skiers across Lake Murray, she’ll be sipping tea on the deck of the lakefront house she’s renting. Maybe in the afternoon she’ll join the other boaters on the beautiful water that makes up Lake Murray Country.

Lake Murray is an impoundment of the Saluda River and created by the Dreher Shoals Dam. The dam was built to supply hydroelectric power to South Carolina. Construction was started on the dam on September 21, 1927 with completion on June 30, 1930. At the time of its construction, it was the largest earthen dam in the world. The land under what would become Lake Murray was inhabited, and before the dam could be built the people needed to be relocated. In addition to private homes, schools, churches and graveyards all had to be built or relocated, but the lure of hydroelectric power kept public sentiment relatively positive. The land was cleared of trees and almost enough timber was harvested to use in the construction of the dam. The resulting lake was named after Chief Engineer Williams Murray and stretches 41 miles long and 14 miles across. It touches parts of four counties including Saluda, Newberry, Richland, and Lexington. Today it is also used as a municipal water supply and is owned by South Carolina Electric and Gas Company (SCE&G).

Perhaps Lake Murray’s most important use is for recreation. It has become one of the south’s premiere striper lakes and plays host to several fishing tournaments every year. Anglers can also challenge themselves against the lake’s abundant populations of largemouth bass, catfish, bream, crappie, and yellow perch. Public access to Lake Murray is from several SCE&G boat ramps or recreation areas, including one on either side of the dam with a picnic and swimming area. The lake is ringed with vacation rentals, marinas, and restaurants, many of which also provide access to the lake.

Dreher Island State Recreation Area, also known as Billy Dreher Island State Park, provides access to Lake Murray. The 348-acre park is made up of three islands linked together by a causeway and two bridges. It includes hiking trails, a campground, lakeside villas, and miles of shoreline fishing. “Out in the lake, but not far from the city” is Dreher Island’s motto. Just 15 miles from Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city, Dreher Island State Recreation Area provides easy access to both Lake Murray and all the amenities of the city. For anyone intending to stay in the area, there is real estate for sale.

Lake Murray’s islands have a rich history. In addition to accommodating the state recreation area, islands on the lake served as bombing ranges during World War II. Today, boaters gather around the island to watch the purple martins take flight on their practice runs getting ready for their journey to Brazil.

At the time of its completion, the Dreher Shoals Dam was an engineering marvel. In 2005, SCE&G completed another engineering feat with the construction of a backup dam for Lake Murray. Construction on the backup dam was prompted by the reclassification of the 1886 earthquake that leveled Charleston. After further study, the earthquake was labeled 7.3 on the Richter scale, exceeding the original dam’s requirements. A road runs across the original dam, and a walking path was created with the construction of the backup dam. The trail gives visitors a beautiful view looking out over Lake Murray.

With tens of thousands of acres of water, schools of trophy-sized fish, and countless coves to explore, Lake Murray draws visitors from across the country. Its recreation opportunities are large enough to warrant their own tourism region. The Capitol City and Lake Murray Country region has something to please everyone and more than enough room for them all.

Things to do at Lake Murray SC

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • State Park

Fish species found at Lake Murray SC

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Striped Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Murray SC Photo Gallery

Lake Murray SC 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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