Lake Jocassee: crystal clear water, a mountainous shoreline, and abundant waterfalls. What isn’t to love? Lake Jocassee’s remote location and limited parking also make it less crowded than the nearby Lake Keowee and Lake Hartwell. It is hands-down our favorite lake in the Upstate.
Jocassee is open to all varieties of aquatic recreation including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and power-boating. The majority of the shoreline is privately owned by Duke Energy and the state park service, and a small amount is owned by local residents. The land owned by Duke Energy is undeveloped leading to the beautiful landscapes surrounding the shores. Public access points are available through Devil’s Fork State Park. The state park has three boat ramps as well as a swimming area. On summer weekends, there may be line to get into Devil’s Fork State Park, so plan on getting there early.
Here are some of the best ways to spend a lake day at Jocassee:
- Explore the waterfalls: There are an abundance. The waterfalls range from two-hundred feet falls to small trickles to waterfalls you can paddle behind. Check out this Google maps link for the locations.
- Camp on an island: Devils Fork State Park includes an island that is available for overnight camping. It is roughly a two-mile paddle to the island and there is a two-night minimum. Campsites can be reserved here
- Jump off the rock cliffs: Remains from an old rock quarry create a dramatic rock face on the lake. These cliffs are a popular attraction for cliff jumpers. You can climb directly on to the rocks from the water and can jump off at any height. Obviously, this can be dangerous, so don’t be dumb and stay within your comfort level. If you are paddling from the state park, then the rock cliffs are located past the dam.
- Go scuba diving: Lake Jocassee is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Southeast. The lake’s clear waters lead to great visibility, around 15 to 50 feet. Jocassee is a man-made lake with remains from the people who lived in the valley before the dam was created. Jocassee Dive Shop offers chartered trips, rentals, and lessons.
- Explore Thompson Creek: Thompson Creek is one of our favorite destinations when paddling on lake Jocassee. Rock-hopping up the creek brings you to beautiful cascades, swimming holes, and jumping points into the water. The paddle from the State Park is about 8-10 miles round trip, so plan on it being a full day trip.
As long as you are at Lake Jocassee, you will have a good time. It’s cool, clear waters are a welcomed change from the murky, warm waters in other lakes. Even if you don’t go in water, the mountain views make the trip worth your time. While you are in the area, visit Jumping-Off Rock for a spectacular view overlooking the entire Jocassee Gorges.