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11 Fantastic Lakes for Recreation near Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg is surrounded by lakes, but many of them are drinking water reservoirs with recreational restrictions. Many of the lakes in the area prohibit swimming and fast boating but are excellent for fishing and paddling.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg is surrounded by lakes, but many of them are drinking water reservoirs with recreational restrictions on swimming and fast boating.

Only Kings Mountain Reservoir (Moss Lake) and Lake Adger allow swimming, but even they don’t have designated beaches. Most visitors swim from their boats in summer.

Lakes with camping opportunities are few around Spartanburg as well. Check out the comparison table to find camping lakes.

Despite these restrictions, the lakes around Spartanburg offer plenty of activities. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and boating are popular pastimes.

Learn more about the area and find your favorite lake!

Lakes near Spartanburg:

  1. Lake Craig
  2. Lake Cooley
  3. Lake Blalock
  4. Lake William C Bowen
  5. Lyman Lake
  6. Lake Cunningham
  7. Lake Robinson
  8. Lake Thicketty
  9. Lake Whelchel
  10. Kings Mountain Reservoir
  11. Lake Adger
Lakes near Spartanburg South Carolina Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Craig

  • Website: Lake Craig
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 10 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Picnics

Approximately ten miles southeast of downtown Spartanburg, Lake Craig sits within Croft State Park

At 7,054 acres, this park that occupies rolling hills with forests was farmland that once served as part of Camp Croft, a training base for the US Army between December 1940 and July 1945. 

A state park since 1949, the recreation site has more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, equestrian facilities, a campground, a playground, boating, and fishing in two lakes. 

Lake Tom Moore Craig came into existence after crews impounded Kelsey Creek to create a 165-acre reservoir. 

Nearby Lake Edwin Johnson is a 40-acre impoundment of Thompson Creek immediately north of Lake Craig. A slight extension of Thompson Creek flows from Lake Johnson into Lake Craig. 

Both lakes accommodate kayaks and canoes, as well as anglers. Bank fishing is possible. Fish found here include largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish.

2. Lake Cooley

A fishing dock on the lake in South Carolina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Cooley
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 11 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

An impoundment of Jordan Creek 11 miles west-northwest of Spartanburg, Lake Cooley was created as a flood control reservoir for the Startex-Jackson-Wellford-Duncan Water District.

The lake has a publicly accessible boat launch, picnic area, and playground on the southern end, adjacent to the dam. 

Expanded recreation facilities known as the “Outdoor Education Center” became available in 2017 to encourage local residents to bring their families to this 330-acre reservoir.

Lake Cooley occupies an area near hills that has created many secluded fishing areas. Those who fish at this tranquil location also enjoy the views of mountains in the distance. 

Species commonly found here include largemouth bass, rock bass, spotted bass, redear sunfish, white and black crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish. 

3. Lake Blalock

Lake Blalock
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Lake Blalock
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 13 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Slightly more than 10 miles north of downtown, Lake Blalock took shape after the Blalock Dam was built along the Pacolet River in 1983. 

Officially known as the H. Taylor Blalock Reservoir, this body of water covers 1,105 surface acres and has a shoreline that spans almost 45 miles. 

The Spartanburg Water System received approval to build the dam in the mid-1970s to create another drinking water reservoir as a backup to Lake Bowen. 

This scenic reservoir also serves as a popular location for boating. The utility has a public access boat ramp and fishing dock available. 

No swimming, wading, or other direct body contact with the water is permitted. 

Bank fishing is allowed in a few designated areas. Those who enjoy fishing at this location usually find striped bass, largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie in Lake Blalock. 

4. Lake Bowen

  • Website: Lake Bowen
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Similar to Lake Blalock, Lake William C. Bowen is an artificial reservoir created by Spartanburg Water to serve as a reliable source of drinking water. 

The 1,534-acre impoundment of the South Pacolet River 15 miles northwest of the city is the largest lake in Spartanburg County. 

Planned in the late 1950s and built in 1960, Lake Bowen has approximately 33 miles of shoreline. 

The water utility created Anchor Park in Inman as a location where people can launch books into Lake Bowen. This park also has a playground, two boat ramps, and picnic areas. 

Anglers have enjoyed fishing in this artificially created lake for more than 60 years. There are many quiet nooks and inlets near the shore where white and black crappie and bass congregate. 

Other fish one may encounter in Lake Bowen are bluegill, channel catfish, white perch, and blue catfish.

5. Lyman Lake

Sunset and boats on a lake in s carolina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lyman Lake 
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 19 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Almost 20 miles west of downtown, Lyman Lake is an impoundment of the Middle Tyger River. 

This reservoir is managed by the Startex-Jackson-Wellford-Duncan Water District and allows that body to send water from the Lyman Low Head Dam to other surface water facilities for treatment. 

The surface level of this reservoir varies based upon precipitation and drawdowns, with the coverage of Lyman Lake usually ranging between 350 and over 400 surface acres.

The water utility provides a pier and boat launch along Lyman Lake’s western shoreline. 

Those who bring rod and reel to this body of water will generally find good opportunities to catch fish. 

Among the species found in Lyman Lake are largemouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, white crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch. 

6. Lake Cunningham

Lake Cunningham in South Carolina
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Lake Cunningham
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 22 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

A drive 22 miles west of downtown Spartanburg, Lake Cunningham was formed along a segment of the South Tyger River. 

This artificial reservoir was constructed along a portion of the river in 1956 to supply drinking water to Greer, a city located between Spartanburg and Greenville. 

Currently managed by the Greer Commission of Public Works, this impoundment has a water treatment plant managed by the utility. 

Lake Cunningham fluctuates between under 300 surface acres to a normal capacity of approximately 376 acres.

This lake is open for public access each day between sunrise and sunset. Canoeing, kayaking, and small boats with engines of less than ten horsepower are permitted along this body of water. 

Due to its use as a drinking water source for Greer, no wading, swimming, or other direct water-body contact is permitted.

Fishing is the top recreation activity at Lake Cunningham. Those who fish here will find a variety of species, including chain pickerel, largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, white crappie, black crappie, and channel catfish. 

7. Lake Robinson

Lake Robinson in South Carolina
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Lake Robinson
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 23 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Lake Robinson is a little more than 22 miles west-northwest of central Spartanburg. 

The sister reservoir of Lake Cunningham, this body of water was created by the Greer Commission of Public Works as a second drinking water reservoir to meet the needs of the city. 

Construction began in 1981 to collect water from the South Tyger River that flows downriver from the mountains of North Carolina. The lake went into full service later in the decade, and was dedicated in 1988.

J. Verne Smith Park sits at the southeastern corner of the lake, near the dam, with fishing piers, a boat ramp, shade trees, picnic areas, and other facilities for events along this picturesque lake. 

The distance between Lake Cunningham and Lake Robinson is less than 1.5 miles. The latter averages 800 surface acres. 

Lake Robinson has the same general water access rules as those found a short distance downriver at Lake Cunningham. 

Daytime use is permitted without water-body contact. The fish population found within this lake is similar as well, with largemouth bass and channel catfish representing the species that anglers often see when they visit. 

8. Lake Thicketty

An Early Morning Sunrise Through the Trees on a Beautiful Lake in South Carolina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Thicketty
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 17 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

A little more than 15 miles northeast of downtown Spartanburg, Lake Thicketty offers year-round, round-the-clock fishing access. 

Managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, this 100-acre reservoir was created with the creation of a dam along Thicketty Creek. 

This reservoir is one of many created in Cherokee County and neighboring areas of the Upstate between the 1950s and 1970s to manage water for flood control purposes. 

A publicly accessible body of water, Thicketty Lake offers both bank and boat fishing opportunities. 

The large, grassy embankment by the dam is a popular place to cast a line from the shore. A basic boat launch is located near the dam, though no other substantial recreational facilities are available. 

Boats that are placed within the lake should be hand-propelled or have engines of six horsepower or less. Swimming is not permitted in the lake.

Anglers who travel to Thicketty Lake will enjoy this quiet destination, one that is off the beaten path. 

Fish found in this body of water include crappie, catfish, bluegill, bream, catfish, redear sunfish, and largemouth bass. 

9. Lake Whelchel

As fog rises from the water, autumn colored trees reflect in the water of a lake South Carolina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Whelchel
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 26 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

Located north of Gaffney, Lake Whelchel is a little more than 20 miles northeast of the heart of Spartanburg. 

This lake is named for Zeb Whelchel, a longtime commissioner in Cherokee County during the 1950s and 1960s who advocated for the creation of this reservoir of Cherokee Creek. The creation of Lake Whelchel offered a reliable water source for the county.

A dock and boat launch allow access to this 200-acre public reservoir. 

The 6.7-mile Overmountain Victory Trail encircles this lake. This natural surface trail is a section of the larger Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail that covers the Carolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee that follows the route covered by patriots during the American Revolution’s Kings Mountain military campaigns. The portion near the lake offers visitors a chance to stroll along the lake and enjoy the local woods. 

As a drinking water reservoir for Gaffney and Cherokee County, restrictions prohibit swimming in this lake. 

When water levels get low, water utility staff divert water from the nearby Broad River to maintain the lake’s integrity. 

Fish found within Lake Whelchel include bass, crappie, bream, catfish, and sunfish. 

10. Kings Mountain Reservoir

  • Website: Kings Mountain Reservoir
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 42 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (from a boat), Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

Kings Mountain Reservoir is a 42-mile drive into North Carolina. Located immediately east of Shelby and a few miles northwest of Kings Mountain, this reservoir provides a reliable water supply for some communities in Cleveland County. 

After a drought threatened local water supplies, Kings Mountain Mayor John Henry Moss led efforts to impound Buffalo Creek in 1974.

Also known as Moss Lake or John H. Moss Reservoir, this reservoir averages between 1,280 and 1,600 surface acres, has 57 miles of shoreline, and offers recreation sites, campgrounds, boat ramps, and picnic areas. 

This reservoir provides anglers with an opportunity to fish for a variety of species. 

Fish regularly found in Moss Lake include largemouth bass, striped bass, spotted bass, white bass, black crappie, white crappie, smallmouth buffalo, blue catfish, channel catfish, and carp. 

11. Lake Adger

Aerial view of pontoon boat on a in North Carolina in autumn
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Adger
  • Distance from Spartanburg: 39 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Picnics

Lake Adger is a 438-acre reservoir 39 miles from Spartanburg. It’s a peaceful location off the beaten path, free from fast boats or crowds.

Although the land around the lake is private, Wildlife Resources Commission maintains a public access area on the western shore. It has a launching ramp and a small pier.

Lake Adger is a paddlers’ dream. It’s too shallow for fast boats, and skiing and jets are prohibited anyway. The result is a peaceful lake rich in wildlife. 

Swimming is allowed at Lake Adger, however, it doesn’t have a designated swimming area. 

Fishing can be excellent, too. Surprisingly, the lake holds the state record for muskellunge. The 41-pound lunker was caught in 2001. Because it’s not a well-known spot, the lake isn’t overfished like some better-known options.

Overall, Lake Adger is a hidden gem. It’s free to use, it’s quiet, and it’s excellent for paddling adventures. But the lack of campgrounds nearby means it’s day-use only.

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