There’s little doubt that South Carolina is king of lakefront homes and condos. According to SCLakes.com, there are eleven popular lakes in South Carolina: Greenwood, Jocassee, Moultrie, Murray, Thurmond (no question what this lake is named after!), Wylie, Hartwell, Keowee, Marion, Russell, and Wateree. There are lakefront homes for sale on most of the following lakes. So how do you choose which SC lake to live on? Read the information below for that answer, or SKIP TO THE SUMMARY.
Lake Marion is South Carolina's largest lake, with 110,000 acres and a canal connecting it to nearby Lake Moultrie. Both are located in the Charleston area and owned by the Santee Cooper Electrical Cooperative, created to manufacture power. Marion is bordered by many swampy areas with an "everglades" feel to it - full of cypress trees and moss. Lake Marion is more shallow than Lake Greenwood, and has more brown water from tannic acid produced by leaves and woody plants. It was built over uncleared forests. Due to its development Lake Marion can be dangerous to unaware boaters and water sports enthusiasts. The sheer size of the open lake creates large waves and an oceanic look unlike most other lakes. There are many Lake Marion waterfront homes for sale here, along with Charleston's many other water bodies; however some lakefront properties are leased from the hydro owner and not owned fee simple.
Lake Moultrie is smaller and connected to Marion by a water bridge called the Diversion Canal. At 64,400 acres, Moultrie is still a major water body. It has an oval shape which brings wind and waves that can make handling a boat best left to a skilled boater. Moultrie is most popular for fishing and is built up with campgrounds, marinas, and tourist facilities.
Both of the above SC lakes are near the coast, so consideration should be given to effects of tropical storms as well as differences in insurance coverage. Another consideration is that due to the blackwater ponds and shallow swampy areas, these lakes produce alligators, snakes, and reptiles commonly found in the coastal regions.
Lake Hartwell is US Army Corp of Engineers owned and maintained, and is one of the state's more popular man-made lakes. It is powered by the Savannah River and borders South Carolina and Georgia. Hartwell has its own state park with several more along its shores. Lake Hartwell covers 56,000 acres which makes it considerably larger than Greenwood. In comparison, even though Lake Hartwell is deeper and larger than Greenwood, it has more problems maintaining water levels. This is especially true in drought conditions, as was evidenced as recently as 2008. At 22 feet below normal levels, it left many boat shells and docks on dry land and the marinas inaccessible. Water levels are now back to normal, and lake front property for sale is abundant.
With Army Corp owned/maintained lakes, the lakefront property owner’s actual ownership ends where the “Corps Line” begins, which is usually about 200’ from the water. Permission must be obtained for building personal docks. It is at the discretion of the Corp of Engineers whether for these, and pathways to the lakefront can be cleared since the homeowner does not own the access.
Lake Russell was formerly called Trotter Shoals Lake, and renamed to honor SC Senator Richard B. Russell. This lake is also owned by the Army Corps and has very little in the way of lakefront property on its 540 miles of shoreline. It is primarily a recreational lake now, although created for flood control and electricity production. Lake Russell borders Georgia and South Carolina and doesn't offer as many tourist attractions as some of the more popular lakes. Being a Corp of Engineers lake the same property restrictions will apply.
Lake Jocassee is a SC lake owned by Duke Energy Corp, and located in the state's western mountains. There are very few lakefront homes on Jocassee, and little development around it at all. Jocassee has one state park, Devil's Fork, and is most noted for the fishing opportunities it offers. The water in Jocassee is very cold but clear, which makes it a major draw to scuba divers. The SC lake encompasses 7,565 acres of near wilderness and offers few amenities. With the Jocassee's mountainous location, consideration to inclement weather and driving conditions should be given.
Lake Keowee is owned by Duke Power and a sister lake to Jocassee. With 18,500 acres and beautiful mountain views, lakefront housing is highly developed along its shores. Keowee is not a deep lake, but offers clear waters that make scuba diving popular and has two marinas, four bordering state parks, and numerous boat ramps to take advantage of its recreational offerings.
With all its beautiful mountain glory, Lake Keowee homes are available for sale, but are more pricey than Lake Greenwood homes. "The Cliffs" is a very popular golf and lake community, and offers luxury homes for sale on Lake Keowee. There are also available homesites and lots along the shore. (Photo from www.scfishingreport.com )
Lake Murray is another haven for avid fishermen. Located northeast of Columbia and containing 500 miles of beautiful shoreline, SC's Lake Murray is powered by the Saluda River and one of the largest dams in the country. The Saluda begins at the border of North Carolina and also fills Lakes Greenwood, Wateree, the Congaree River, and the Greenville SC Water reservoir. Lake Murray has numerous marinas, restaurants, and tourist facilities on its borders. Being located near Columbia, it is a heavily populated and highly trafficked lake. Murray is a large, wide lake, and therefore subject to larger, rougher waves during storms. Lake Greenwood is longer and more narrow in shape, which reduces the rough waters and makes for easier navigation. Greenwood is still large enough for nearly all watersports, however.
Strom Thurmond lends his name to Lake Thurmond, which is called Clark's Hill on the Georgia side. This wide, smooth lake is owned by the Army Corps and as such has minimal shoreline housing development with varying lake levels. It's popular for water skiing, boating, and its 3 bordering state parks. As with Lake Hartwell, Lake Thurmond has had problems maintaining water levels, particularly in drought situations. There are few if any personal docks and permission must be granted by the Corp of Engineers before personal docks can be built/installed - or pathways between the owner's property and the lake may be altered in any way.
Lake Wylie is a 13,400 acre lake that was created for hydro-electric power, but is also used as a recreational facility by its nearby towns - which includes the rather famous Tega Cay, known for the Jim Bakker/PTL Club extravagance. There are 6 public boat accesses, 2 nuclear power plants, and it is popular to both nearby North Carolina and its South Carolina residents. You'll find many waterfront homes for sale on Lake Wylie SC.
Lake Wateree is a Duke Power owned recreational lake popular with fishermen, campers, and boat enthusiasts. It has little in the way of housing or SC lake front property, giving the 13,000 acres instead to a large state park and Wateree Lake Campground. It is located along highway I-77 in Winnsboro, SC, and is noted for its pristine natural preserves and beautiful wildlife population, including egrets, herons, deer, and even wild turkeys.
Call me for more information if you are interested in buying lake front property in SC!