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Hartwell Lake Information
About Hartwell Lake
Hartwell Lake is a large reservoir that borders Georgia and South Carolina, a prime recreation destination in the Southeast. The man-made lake of about 56,000 acres is on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers. Lake Hartwell’s 962 miles of shorelines brushes numerous parks and recreation areas ideal for a day outing or weekend adventure. Scenic views and easy access makes Hartwell a top spot for lakeside enjoyment.
Things to do in Hartwell Lake
First stop, Hartwell Dam and Lake Visitor Center, to learn more about the giant reservoir that is Hartwell Lake. The visitor center is also where guests can get more information about recreational opportunities nearby. The Big Oaks Recreation area, located adjacent to the center, is a great place to have a picnic or take in the vista. You can stroll on the walking trail that follows the edge of the lake to the top of the dam, and find a spectacular view of both. The Savannah River runs along the lower side of the dam, where vacationers can access the Hartwell Dam Fishing Pier for free. The pier is a part of the Georgia River Recreation area, located a mile from the visitor center. The best camping and fishing spots aren’t too far off shore – the Watsadler Campground is one option that’s just steps from the water. The lake is ideal for swimming, kayaking, boating, jet skiing and sailing. There are 21 fish species in Lake Hartwell for avid fishermen, and plenty of space across the lake for everyone to enjoy their water sport of choice.
Day trips from Hartwell Lake
Historic downtown Hartwell, not too far from Hartwell Lake, is a must see. Whether for a day trip or for an afternoon jaunt, downtown Hartwell is a Georgia Main Street City. The antique shops, specialty stores and historic homes are a rare find – a homage to times gone by. Stop by the Hart County Historical Society and Museum before shopping and dining around town. Head over to Franklin County, where the “Center of the World” is located on Highway 29 South. This sacred Cherokee Indian Assembly Ground is the site the Cherokees considered the center of the world. Spend a Saturday night at Clem’s Shoal Creek Music Park, where bluegrass, gospel and country tunes will jazz up your evening. Golfers will appreciate the Cateechee Golf Club, built in 1998, with its 475 acres designed by world famous architect Mike Young. Visitors can also spend a day teeing up at Hartwell Golf Course, which offers tree-lined fairways, three ponds and a creek. The Hart County Quilt Trail also provides an opportune day trip to see historical, landmark and agri-business sites that are unique to the county. If you’re looking to take a drive to see where the road takes you, try the Richard Russell Scenic Highway GA 346 in Georgia; the Savannah River National Scenic Highway (Hwy 187) in South Carolina; or the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway (Hwy 11), also in South Carolina. River Road off Highway 123 at the South Carolina state line where it intersects 160 and 184 is also a beautiful drive, and just 10 miles.
Hartwell Lake accommodations
Both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of Lake Hartwell offer plenty of lodging options for visitors. If comfort is a priority, head for the inns, spas, motels or bed and breakfasts in the area. Chain hotels or motels, such as the Best Western in Hartwell, has an outdoor pool, fitness room, internet access and breakfast for guests. Local businesses can provide comfort as well, such as the Jameson Inn or the Skelton House. Campers have several choices for their stay. Hart State Park has the space on Lake Hartwell for 78 tent, trailer and RV sites, 5 lakeside cabins, 2 boat ramps, 2 swimming beaches and more. Milton Campground or Paynes Creek Campground may not be as large, but both provide access to a boat ramp and restrooms. The South Carolina side of the lake also has a number of options. There are RV resorts such as Carolina Landing or Lakeshore RV Resort, both located in Fair Play, South Carolina. Vacation rentals such as The Cabins or Lake Hartwell Camping and Cabins may be optimal for those more flexible with their accommodations. The Cotton Gin is hidden gem of a B&B located on the lake’s northeast side, and numerous other motels and inns can be found between the lake and Anderson, South Carolina.
Transportation in Hartwell Lake
On the South Carolina side, Clemson Area Transit is the public transportation system that provides closest access to Lake Hartwell. The system serves Clemson University, Clemson, Anderson County, Seneca, Central and Pendleton. The bus is completely free, so it’s a great way to get around if visiting the neighboring towns from Lake Hartwell for a day trip. Hartwell itself is easy to get to via car. Interstate 85 is the main thoroughfare through the Lake Hartwell area, with four main regions nearby as follows: Hartwell, Georgia; Toccoa, Georgia; Clemson, South Carolina; and Anderson, South Carolina.