Clarks Hill Lake Information

Clarks Hill Lake lines the middle of the border between Georgia and South Carolina. This lake is known as Strom Thurmond Lake at the federal level by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the State of Georgia legally named it Clarks Hill Lake in 1989. Clarks Hill Lake spreads over the counties of Columbia, Elberton, Lincoln, and McDuffie in Georgia on the west, and Abbeville and McCormick Counties in South Carolina on the east. The Broad, Little, and Savannah Rivers feed Clarks Hill Lake. 

The U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, owns and operates Clarks Hill Lake. Clarks Hill Lake covers 70,000 acres with 1,200 miles of shoreline, an average depth of 37 feet, and a maximum depth of 141 feet. Augusta, Georgia, is 18 miles south of Clarks Hill Lake’s southeastern border, but most of this lake lies in a deeply rural environment. 

The USACE owns 140,000 acres surrounding property, including the shoreline at Clarks Hill Lake, so there are very few lakefront homes on its beachfront. Beautiful hardwood bottomland and upland pine trees provide habitat for many species of birds and animals like black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and waterfowl. Hills, beaches, and rock bluffs surround Clarks Hill Lake, which features a lot of little islands in the lake to visit. 


Clarks Hill Lake History

The USACE began construction on the Strom Thurmond Dam in 1946 and finished it in 1954, and it took another six months to impound Clarks Hill Lake, which was expected to take two years. But, a momentous storm blew through and filled it up quickly. Housing development did not exist in the region, and the USACE had to build a small town to house its workers.  

Clarks Hill Lake inundated three towns, which were evacuated, and their remains lay hidden under the water. Petersburg, Georgia, now rests with the fish and was the third largest city in Georgia, until the lake flooded it. Petersburg was an active, commercial town located at the fork of the Savannah and Broad Rivers, with prime real estate. 

Petersburg was abandoned long before Clarks Hill Lake because cotton began to take over the southern U.S. regions in the early 1800s, and Petersburg was a tobacco town. Farmers in the area started growing cotton instead of tobacco. Petersburg’s population started declining in the 1820s. Only three families remained in the town by 1854. Visitors can access the town’s outskirts from a path in the Bobby Brown State Park that leads to the lakeshore.

By the time of European settlement, the Creek and Cherokee tribes inhabited the Clarks Hill Lake area. These tribes ceded their land to Georgia in 1773. Land grants enticed settlers from South Carolina at that point, and so began the settlement of the Broad, Little, and Savannah Rivers. The road from Petersburg to Augusta was originally an Indian trail, and that road is also under Clarks Hill Lake.

Both the Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers saw action in the Savannah River region. In both wars, the military factions highly prized the rich soil and transportation of goods on the navigable waterways. The Battle of Kettle Creek, one of the most decisive Patriot victories during the Revolutionary War, was fought near the southern end of Clarks Hill Lake on February 14, 1779. The Battle of Kettle Creek War Memorial Marker is located on Tyrone Road in Washington, Georgia, near the lake. 

During the Civil War, a large number of men from Lincoln County volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. In May 1865, Georgia Volunteer Infantry wagons loaded with Confederate gold were traveling from Washington D.C. to Abbeville, South Carolina. Robbers attacked that night while the wagons camped at Chennault Plantation in Lincoln County. Rumors took over that the robbers buried the gold in nearby streams and fields. To this day, no one has found that gold. 

Today, the Clarks Hill Lake Region is an extremely rural region surrounded by a few towns that barely consist of 20 buildings or fewer at crossroads of country highways. Augusta, Georgia, is the nearest metroplex for supplies and 18 miles from the southern border of Clarks Hill Lake. Visitors have limited shopping and services options on the northwestern side of the lake in Lincolnton, Georgia, and in McCormick, South Carolina, about 10 miles north of the lake’s northern border. 


Fishing Clarks Hill Lake

Predominant game species include hybrid striped, largemouth bass, and striped bass, bluegill, channel and flathead catfish, black and white crappie, chain pickerel, and redear sunfish. Anglers can only access most of Clarks Hill Lake’s shoreline by boat. Some campgrounds have boat ramps, bank fishing, and fishing docks, with other boat ramps scattered around the lake. Fishing from a canoe or kayak is popular. 

Clarks Hill Lake shares it waters with Georgia and South Carolina. If you have a Georgia fishing license, you are legal to fish in South Carolina and vice versa. Both states have reciprocal agreements with their fishing licenses, but there are creel limits. Public fishing piers are located at Below the Dam, Clarks Hill Park, Lake Springs, Petersburg Campground, and Amity. There are several boat rental services and four marinas that also rent boats. 

Clarks Hill Lake hosts professional bass tournaments throughout the year, and a growing number of crappie and catfish tournament circuits are also becoming regular visitors. Striped bass are the most sought-after species at Clarks Hill Lake. Stripers and hybrid striped bass were first introduced into Clarks Hill Lake during the late 1960s. Striper prespawn and post spawns occur in April. They chase blueback herring and shad in spring and fall, and are found deep in the hotter months.

Fishing hotspots on Clarks Hill Lake include Camel Humps near the Howell Branch for hybrids and stripers, Bass Alley for stripers, Buoy L-15 for stripers and hybrids, Crappie Tree for crappie, Garden Shoals for largemouths, Mistletoe Area for largemouths, No Name Creek for crappie, and Monkey Island for stripers, just to name a few. The USACE has placed tons of fish attractors in Clarks Hill Lake. Some of the USACE fish attractors have buoys that direct anglers to the attractors. 

Fish attractor buoys include these locations: Downstream of 378 Bridge, Bussey Point, Savannah River, Catfish Bay, Cherokee Creek, Elijah Clark State Park, Hawe Creek, Hickory Knob State Park Fishing Creek, Little River Georgia, (near Cherokee Day Use), Little River Georgia, (near Price-Legg), Murry Creek, Savannah River (GA), Savannah River (SC), Scotts Creek, Shriver Creek, and Soap Creek. There are plenty more fish attractors in Clarks Hill Lake. 

The Georgia and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Departments have also placed fish attractors with buoys in their waters in Clarks Hill Lake. More than a few fishing charter services operate exclusively on Clarks Hill Lake. Seven and a half million visitors flock to Clarks Hill Lake each year, so it is advisable to look for a fishing guide and book your fishing adventure early.

Check out experienced local pro guides on our Clarks Hill Lake Fishing Guides page.


Boating Clarks Hill Lake

Clarks Hill Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Southern U.S. This lake is endowed with hundreds of coves and inlets, varying depth levels and water current speeds, and a bunch of tiny islands to visit. The USACE owns all the property surrounding the lake and wildlife is abundant. Boaters find so much access to its shoreline that is not available on land, so wildlife viewing from the water is exciting.

There are four marinas, Clarks Hill Marina, Savannah Lakes Marina, Safe Harbor Trade Winds, and Soap Creek Marina & Resort. These marinas offer different services including boat ramps, rentals, repairs, sales, service, slips, and storage, dining, fishing docks and bank fishing, fuel, golf, live entertainment, ship’s stores, and swim areas and beaches.  

Scuba divers find many underwater attractions and dive sites at Clarks Hill Lake, with over 20 including an airplane at Clarks Hill Recreation Area near the East Dam. The USACE scuba diving regulations permit swimming, wading, snorkeling, or scuba diving at one's own risk, except at launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks, or other areas so designated by the USACE. 

An international diver down or inland diving flag must be displayed during underwater activities, and diving, jumping, or swinging from trees, bridges, or other structures which cross or are adjacent to project waters are prohibited. There are several scuba diving schools located near Clarks Hill Lake that provide diving gear, training classes, scuba dive clubs, and more. 

Shop or sell a boat on our Clarks Hill Lake Boats for Sale page.  

Plan your trip to Truman Reservoir by calling one of the marinas today on our Clarks Hill Lake Marinas page. 


Clarks Hill Lake Real Estate

Before learning about available properties at Clarks Hill Lake, it is crucial that property owners understand the legalities of owning property which abut federal property. The U.S. Corps of Engineers manages the Thurmond Lake Project to ensure a balance between the recreational user, the environment, and the conservation of project resources. The Corps gives consideration to possible conflicts of use between the general public and owners of private property adjoining the project.

The USACE manages private use through a permit/license program which allows property owners to build or install facilities such as boat docks, water, electrical lines, etc. Owning property adjoining Thurmond Project's land does not permit exclusive rights to the use of public land, particularly in building or extending any structures onto federal property without written authorization. 

Such actions constitute an encroachment, which is defined as placing or the continued existence of any structure or item under, upon, in, or over the project's lands or waters and/or destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including natural formations, historical and archaeological features, and vegetative growth unless authorized in writing. The USACE plants "witness" trees with orange paint bands along the project's boundary lines. 

Also known by the name Clarks Hill Lake, Thurmond Lake real estate is a top ten market for lake homes and lake lots in Georgia and South Carolina. There are typically 110 lake homes for sale on Thurmond Lake at any given time. The lake typically has about 300 lake lots and land for sale. The average list price is $269,000 for Thurmond Lake homes for sale, with other homes at higher and lower price points.

Besides Augusta, Georgia, which is the only commercial city within miles of Clarks Hill Lake, there is Elberton and Athens on the Georgia side, Abbeville on the South Carolina side, and a few Dollar General stores with limited shopping options and services. Any other commercial town is 50 to 190 miles away in both states. The marinas are the main source of restaurants and a night life on Clarks Hill Lake. The McCormick County School District in South Carolina is the only district serving the northeastern border of Clarks Hill Lake.

To find your dream home, explore our Clarks Hill Lake Homes For Sale page.


Clarks Hill Cabin and Vacation Home Rentals

In Georgia, Mistletoe State Park offers five cottages and five cabins for rent, and Elijah State Park has 20 cottages. Hickory Knob State Park Resort in South Carolina has 16 cabins 150 yards from the lakefront. Other cabins and vacation home rentals are usually on private property adjoining USACE property. Some are close to the lake, and others are just a few miles away. Find those rentals on vrbo.com and airbnb.com. 

Find the perfect vacation home on our Clarks Hill Lake Cabins page.


Clarks Hill Lake Camping

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages 13 campgrounds at Thurmond Lake with a total of 554 campsites. Many of these campgrounds feature amenities such as boat ramps, courtesy docks, electric and water, hook-ups for RVs, group camping, restrooms, showers, sanitary disposal stations, pet-friendly, playgrounds, and designated swimming areas. Eleven of the USACE campgrounds feature park attendants on site. 

In Georgia, the Bobby Brown State Outdoor Recreation Area, Elijah Clark State Park, Mistletoe State Park, and Richard B. Russell State Park offer varying amenities like archery targets, boat ramps and rentals, boat in and walk in camping, campsites and RV sites, cabins and cottages, disk golf, fishing piers, group camp shelters, hike and bike trails, miniature golf, pet-friendly, picnic shelters, stores, swimming areas and beaches. 

In South Carolina Baker Creek State Park, Calhoun Falls State Park, and Hamilton Branch State Park offer camping, RV sites, and day use picnic areas. Hickory Knob State Park and Resort features cabins, lodging, camping, RV sites, and day use areas. Amenities include boat ramps, camping, walk-in campsites, and RV sites, hiking and biking trails, marinas, pavilions, pet-friendly, picnic shelters, playgrounds, sports courts, stores, and swimming areas.

The USACE leases property to private campgrounds, parks, and recreation areas. These are conveniently located around the vast Clarks Hill Lake. There are more privately owned campgrounds and RV parks on the Georgia side of Clarks Hill Lake than the South Carolina side. They offer different amenities and there is even one glamping tent camp offering large safari style tents with queen beds. Six Wildlife Management Areas on both sides of the offer primitive campsites. 

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Clarks Hill Lake Camping page.


Hiking Clarks Hill Lake

There are hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails at Clarks Hill Lake. They take you along the lakeshore, over the hills, and through the woods. The following trails are the ones closest to Clarks Hill Lake, but there is much more to be explored in the area and along the rivers flowing into the lake. 

Bartram Trail: West Dam Recreation Area to Washington Road; a point-to-point trail that takes you by a lake located near Modoc, South Carolina. This 18.2-mile out-and-back trail near Mountain Rest, South Carolina, is moderately challenging and extremely popular. 

Baker Creek State Park, South Carolina: Home to 10 miles of South Carolina mountain bike trails for bikers in search of a wild ride through heavy woodlands set in 1,305 acres. 

Big Rock Trail Loop: Takes you through a nice forest located near Clarks Hill, South Carolina. This 3.7-mile loop trail is a moderately challenging route, and a popular trail for hiking, mountain biking, and running. 

Big Rock and Tower Trail Loop: An 8.0-mile loop near Clarks Hill, South Carolina and considered an easy route; it is great for hiking, mountain biking, and running, and not too crowded. 

Bobby Brown State Park, Georgia: Cade Trail and History Trail offers 2 miles of interpretive signs that provide natural history information on the plants and animals seen along the trail.

Calhoun Falls State Park, South Carolina: Cedar Bluff Nature Trail: An easy to moderate 1.75-mile loop. 

Elijah Clark State Park, Georgia: Hannah Park Trail; easy 0.75-mile hiking trail. 3-Mile Trail; an easy 3.0-miles hiking and biking trail. 

Forks Area Trail System: An 18.7-mile moderately challenging loop trail and very popular in the James L. Mason WMA just south of Clarks Hill Lake. 

Great Wall Loop: A 7.8-mile loop trail near Clarks Hill, South Carolina and considered a moderately challenging route for hiking, birding, and mountain biking in the James L. Mason WMA just south of Clarks Hill Lake. 

Hamilton Branch State Park, South Carolina: Paleo Hiking Trail, 1.4-mile loop trail considered easy for hiking. Steven’s Creek Heritage Preserve Trail, 1.9-mile moderately difficult loop trail. 

Hickory Knob State Park and Resort, South Carolina: Offers three hiking and mountain biking trails, Beaver Run Trial, 2.5-miles; Lakeview Loop Trail, 7.2-miles; Turkey Ridge Loop Trail, 1.7-miles. 

Mistletoe State Park, Georgia: Offers 15 miles of hiking and nature trails from easy to difficult skill levels. The Beach Trail, 1.9-miles; The Campground Loop Trail, 1.5-miles; The Canyon Loop Trail, 1/3-mile; The Cliatt Creek Nature Trail Loop, 3.25-miles; Rock Dam Loop Trail, 6-miles. These trails are forested, along the lake, and offer great wildlife viewing opportunities along with wildflower shows in spring and summer. 

Richard B. Russell State Park, Georgia: Offers five trails, the Cottage Loop Trail, easy, 1.29-mile loop with a compacted gravel surface; Cottage/Beach Trail, easy 1.55-mile with a compacted gravel surface; Campground Spur, easy 0.5-mile with a compacted gravel surface; Campground/Picnic Trail, easy 0.5-mile with a compacted gravel surface; Blackwell Bridge Trail, easy to moderate 1.6-miles with a rubberized surface and compacted natural soil. 


Clarks Hill Lake Hunting

The Strom Thurmond Lake Project offers plenty of hunting opportunities on approximately 58,000 acres of public land in Georgia and South Carolina. Hardwood bottoms and upland pine forests include hunting opportunities for deer, turkey, small game, hog, quail, and waterfowl. The USACE and both the Georgia and South Carolina Departments of Natural Resources cooperatively manage timber and wildlife resources at Strom Thurmond Lake through timber harvests, prescribed burning, and food plots. 

The USACE leases 24,508 acres of land and water to the State of Georgia and 10,484 acres of land and water to the State of South Carolina as Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).  The USACE also operates 16,716 acres in Georgia and 6,033 acres in South Carolina as Corps Management Units (CMU). Abundant hunting acreage at Thurmond Lake abound. Hunters need valid hunting licenses in Georgia or South Carolina to hunt at or near Clarks Hill Lake.  

Georgia Game Species:

  • Alligator. 
  • Bear.
  • Bobcat.
  • Deer.
  • Dove & Waterfowl.
  • Small Game: beavers, mink, muskrat, otter, skunk, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, and weasel.
  • Turkey.
  • Non-native & Invasive Species: armadillos, coyotes, English sparrows, groundhogs, feral hogs, pigeons, and starlings.

South Carolina Game Species: 

  • Alligator.
  • Bear.
  • Bobcat.
  • Deer.
  • Turkey.
  • Doves, migratory game birds, and waterfowl.
  • Small Game: beaver, fox, grouse, opossum, quail, raccoon, rabbit,  squirrel, mink, muskrat, otter, skunk, and weasel.
  • Other: Coyote, Wild Hog.

Clarks Hill Lake Things to Do

Clarks Hill Lake sits in a vast, undeveloped setting. The lake does not offer a great variety of restaurants, and the only nightlife is at the marinas, which you create. Only one marina offers live entertainment, the Soap Creek Marina and Resort. The Rocky Branch Golf Course near the lake and outside of Lincolnton is an 18-hole course with a clubhouse, practice range, pro shop, snack bar, and drinks. It is located at 4711 Double Branches Road, Lincolnton, Georgia. 

Plan your next trip on our What To Do At Clarks Hill Lake page.


Clarks Hill Lake Zip Codes

Columbia County, Georgia: 30802.

Elbert County, Georgia: 30635, 30668. 

Lincoln County, Georgia: 30817.

McDuffie County, Georgia: 30824.

Abbeville County South Carolina: 29628, 29655.

McCormick County, South Carolina: 29821, 29838, 29840, 29845, 29835.


Clarks Hill Lake Weather & Climate

Clarks Hill Lake sees an average of 46 inches of rain per year, with no snow and 218 days of sunshine. The winter low in January is 32 degrees and a summer high in July of 92 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region. July and August are the least comfortable months. 

Check our Clarks Hill Lake Weather page.


Clarks Hill Lake Flora and Fauna

You can find wildlife including alligators, birds include doves, quail, migratory birds, songbirds, and waterfowl, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, white-tailed deer, red and gray foxes, wild hogs, and wild turkeys. Alligators, bobcats, coyotes, and bears are illusive species and may not be as common to see. 

The hardwood bottom forests include red maples, river birches, and hickories and are sprinkled with large bald cypress and cypress knees, along with upland pines at higher elevations, and beautiful wildflowers put on spring and summer visual symphonies. 

Clarks Hill Lake Email Updates


 

Clarks Hill Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Clarks Hill Lake Weather Forecast

Saturday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 79

Saturday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 60

Sunday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 80

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 58

Monday

Sunny

Hi: 83

Monday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 61

Tuesday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 86

Tuesday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 63


Clarks Hill Lake Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 4/27: 330.32 (+0.32)



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