Hartwell Lake | Outdoorsy

Hartwell Lake
Guide

Introduction

On the border of Georgia and South Carolina, Hartwell Lake is the perfect destination for water lovers. There's never a dull moment with all the fishing, swimming, and hiking opportunities. This Army Corps of Engineers lake has numerous campsites and 962 miles of shoreline just waiting to be explored.

Hartwell Lake is the result of the construction of the Hartwell Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. Its original purpose, to prevent flood damage from the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers, remains its main function but now the area is used for recreation and wildlife management in addition to creating hydropower.

There are a total of 11 day use areas operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which have contributed to Hartwell Lake becoming one of the southeast's more popular recreation lakes. The lake's man-made reservoir contains almost 56,000 acres of water and its easy access via I-85 makes it the perfect gateway to South Carolina's mountain country. The lake is so large, it crosses through three different counties: Franklin, Hart, and Stephens.

Make sure you're prepared for abundant outdoor activities on your next RV road trip to Hartwell Lake. You'll never tire of the pristine swimming beaches, the clear blue water, and the amount of water to navigate. When you've discovered all there is to see and do at Lake Hartwell COE, there's always Lake Hartwell State Park to check out. Venturing a little further afield will take you to Tugaloo State Park which is another great option for fishing and swimming with many camping options too.

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Camping Accommodations

60'
Max RV length
60'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in Hartwell Lake

Transportation

Driving

The I-85 bisects Hartwell Lake and makes the area easily accessible to visitors. Campsites are accessed via paved roads. For a slight detour, consider driving the picturesque Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway (hwy 11).

There are no known obstacles for large RVs or trailers as you make your way to the COE park or campgrounds.

Parking

The recreation areas around Lake Hartwell and the associated swimming beaches have plenty of parking options for larger rigs. Make sure you get their early in the peak season as spaces do fill up fast. There are also options for parking throughout the campgrounds.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Hartwell Lake

Campsites in Hartwell Lake

Reservations camping

Watsadler Campground

Watsadler campground at Hartwell Lake has just under 50 campsites and is open all year. There are water and electric hookups and the sites will accommodate RVs and trailers up to 50 feet in length.

The kids will make use of the two playgrounds and the waterfront sites are sure to please everyone. There's restrooms and showers, a dump station, and each campsite has their own picnic table and fire ring.

If you are planning to travel to Hartwell Lake during the off season, be aware that there are only 23 sites open at this COE campground from the beginning of December to the end of March.

Oconee Point Campground

Open from May to October and available by reservation, the Oconee Point campground has 70 total sites to accommodate most travelers. The gently sloping grounds promote a wilderness atmosphere with a relatively dense cover of hardwood and pine trees.

Your RV or trailer that is 60 feet in length or less is welcome and there's both water and electric hookups. There's playgrounds, a swimming beach, boat ramp, and both toilets and showers. This campground is pet-friendly and has the standard picnic table and fire ring with a grill at each individual site.

Coneross Park Campground

The waterfront sites with electric and water hookups at Coneross Park Campground should appeal to everyone. There are over 100 campsites here with space to park rigs up to 60 feet in length.

There are four playgrounds here in addition to two swimming beaches. these coupled with the on-site boat ramp will provide hours of entertainment. For comfort there's restrooms and showers. Each pet-friendly campsite has a fire ring and picnic table and the sites are available for reservation from May to September.

Twin Lakes Campground

Finding a site for your RV or trailer that is under 50 feet won't be a problem at Twin Lakes Campground. Sites are available by reservation and the COE campground is open year-round. There are full hookup sites available here and there's access to restrooms, showers and two dump stations as long as you are staying at one of the 100 total sites.

With many waterfront, shaded sites, getting into the water is easy for the whole family. Due to the general size of the campground there are a total of five playgrounds to choose from. Each campsite has its own picnic table and fire ring.

Springfield Campground

One of the 79 campsites at Springfield campground is the perfect option for visitors wanting easy access to all the activities of Hartwell Lake. Most of the sites are waterfront and also shaded. You can have both water and electric hookups and RVs and trails up to 55 feet in length are welcome.

The dump station, four different shower stations, and restrooms are what you would expect. There's a boat ramp and a courtesy dock to get in the water in addition to a swimming beach. There's three different playgrounds to keep the kids entertained.

This COE campground is pet-friendly and available by reservation online or by phone.

Paynes Creek Campground

The Army COE campground of Paynes Creek features 43 sites available for campers with rigs less than 55 feet in length on the 399 acre grounds. There are many waterfront sites here and options for both electric and water hookups.

You can launch your boat from this campground and access a hiking and biking trail. The three playgrounds and dock are sure to be a hit with the kids. There's toilets, showers, and a dump station for your convenience and all within the campground's pristine surroundings of mixed pines and hardwood trees.

The campground is open from May to September and sites can be reserved online.

Seasonal activities in Hartwell Lake

In-Season

Picnicking

At Hartwell Lake it's easy to set up a picnic almost anywhere. The recreation areas have designated areas with picnic tables and some shelters, but as long as you have a blanket, you can dine in this COE park.

Set up a blanket on the beach or in the pine and oak trees. Paddle or boat to one of the small islands and set up your feast. Wherever you end up, the scenery will not let you down.

Boating

One of the main reasons that Hartwell Lake is so popular is for its 56,000 acres of water surface begging to be explored by boat. The COE lake allows motorized boats, but sailing, canoeing, and kayaking are also favorites among visitors.

Boaters can waterski on the dark blue surface since the water is calm in most places. Kayakers and canoers will love navigating the shoreline. The calm waters make it an easy trip and you'll come across many interesting, quiet coves.

Swimming

Most campgrounds around Lake Hartwell have at least one swimming beach for visitors to enjoy. The trees that surround the lake offer enough opportunities for shade when the summer sun is at its hottest.

Consider getting to the beach early to watch the sunrise. They are stunning in this area and it's a great opportunity to relax on the beach before the park gets busy.

Off-Season

Wildlife Viewing

A trip to Lake Hartwell is not complete without a few wildlife sightings. Keep an eye out as you explore the park by boat, on foot, or by bike. Always have your camera close.

Depending on the time of year, you'll see a few different types of birds. There's cormorants, finch, Canada geese, and multiple species of tern. On land you're likely to observe at least one of the following during your travels: foxes, deer, skunk, groundhogs, or coyotes.

Fishing

Anglers will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to catch something at Hartwell Lake. The lake is teeming with different types of fish and has even been the location of large fishing tournaments.

The diverse fish habitats here promote a range of sport fishing opportunities. There are shallow cove pockets, rocky bluffs on the arm of the upper Tagaloo River and sandy flats in the lake's lower and middle areas. You'll find largemouth, hybrid, and striped bass. Bream, crappie, and catfish are common as well.

Hiking

There are multiple trails along the shores of Hartwell Lake that meander in through the trees and back out again. The terrain is flat and therefore suitable for hikers of any skill level. You can decide the length of trip you wish to take.

For an easy official loop, visit Lake Hartwell State Park for the Beech Bluff Trail. It's hilly but short, spanning 1.2 miles if you do the entire loop.

Find the perfect campsite.