Lake Murray SC Information

Lake Murray lies mostly in Lexington County, with parts of it in Saluda, Newberry, and Richland Counties just a few miles northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, the state capitol. Lake Murray covers approximately 50,000 acres, with about 650 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 189 feet. Lake Murray is 41 miles long and 14 miles at its widest point. Lake Murray is aptly known as “The Jewel of South Carolina”.

Beautiful Lake Murray sits on the Saluda River channel and has thousands of coves on tributaries and over 60 islands, with Dreher Island State Park in the northwest, stretching over three islands. Bomb Island sits in the open water at the widest part of Lake Murray. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company (SCE&G) owns and operates Lake Murray.

Lake Murray has two dams, the original earthen dam built in 1930, which at the time of construction was the largest earthen dam in the world, and a backup dam, completed in 2005, which SCE&G built to help protect the lake in the event of an earthquake. Dense forests consisting of bald cypress, southern wax myrtles, willow oaks, and crabapple trees blanket Lake Murray’s shores and shallow waters.


History of Lake Murray South Carolina

Lake Murray is named for William S. Murray, who was an engineer involved in the design and creation of the original dam. Construction of the original dam and the impoundment of the lake took four years, from 1927 to 1930, to complete. The Saluda Indian tribe gave their name to the Saluda River. The Saluda tribe lived on the banks of the river, but migrated to today’s Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. The Cherokee from the north moved in to the former Saluda territory. 

The Lexington Power and Water Company (LP&WC) began the process of land acquisition for Lake Murray. Securing the land to construct Lake Murray was fraught with difficulties. LP&WC needed to purchase 1,100 parcels of land where a population of 5,000 people lived. Properties had passed from fathers to sons with no legal transfer, with certain lands conveyed under crown grants from King James II of England, and other tracts were heir properties or had no written records.

LP&WC arranged the removal of three churches, six schools, and 193 graveyards containing 2,323 graves. Many landowners moved to lands adjacent to or near the vicinity of Lake Murray without a fuss, and continued farming in the same neighborhood. Their removal from the valley was not a loss to the community. Some smaller rural micro-communities ended up at the bottom of Lake Murray. 

One of the most interesting historical events at Lake Murray happened on April 4, 1943, when Bryce Lever was digging for fishing worms on the south shore of Lake Murray and  noticed an airplane flying low, heading downward toward the water. Katherine Townsend Tapp, 23 years old, walked along the lake’s north shore when she saw a B-25 Bomber losing altitude. She ran to the home of Sewall Oliver to get his a speedboat in case of a necessary rescue mission.

The B-25 had taken off from the Army Air Base outside Columbia, South Carolina, on a skip-bombing training mission over Lake Murray’s island targets, and its left engine lost power. Henry Mascall, the bombardier, urged pilot William Fallon to land on the lake. The crew climbed out onto the wings, inflated a life raft, and set it in the water. Sewall Oliver rescued them in his speedboat.

The B-25 began sinking seven minutes after it hit water. It ended up on the bottom of Lake Murray at a depth of 150 feet. It was too deep for the U.S. Army Air Force to salvage it. They wrote it off as a loss. Robert Seigler, from Columbia, heard the story of the sunken B-25, and in the 1980s, he began researching about the B-25 crash. Robert recruited two partners, John Hodge and Bill Vartorella, and they established the Lake Murray B-25 Rescue Project.

It took the Lake Murray B-25 Rescue Project almost two decades to get that B-25 off of the bottom of Lake Murray. This bomber was a valuable part of WWII history. It is a B-25 Mitchell, a medium bomber used in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. During the war, there were almost 10,000 B-25 Bombers. Only 130 remain today. The B-25 that crashed into Lake Murray is the third oldest of them all. It is one of only four intact C models surviving, and the only surviving B-25 that still has a bottom gun turret.

It was a lengthy, expensive, and joint effort of the U.S. Navy, the Lake Murray B-25 Rescue Project, Gary Larkins, a marine salvage expert, divers, sonar technology, and the accounts of witnesses, including Katherine Tapp and Bryce Lever, which finally led divers to locate the B-25 on September 10, 1992. On September 19, an audience of hundreds of onlookers in boats and on land watched spellbound as the professionals pumped out 800 gallons of fuel and water before they lifted the B-25 to the surface. 

Seigler’s group sent the bomber to the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Alabama. Its front section went on display in December 2005. The museum preserved, but did not restore the B-25 to pre-crash condition. The museum judged the damage too expensive to repair. 


Fishing Lake Murray

Bass species present in Lake Murray include Guadalupe, hybrid striped, largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, striped, white, and yellow bass. Other game species are bluegill, bowfin, bigmouth, black, and smallmouth buffalo, black and yellow bullhead, grass carp, blue, channel, and flathead catfish, Rio Grande cichlid, black and white crappie, freshwater and red drum, American eel, alligator, longnose, shortnose, and spotted gar, paddlefish, chain pickerel, green, longear, redbreast, and redear sunfish, rainbow trout, walleye, and warmouth. Several shad and minnow species provide bait fish. 

The basic requirements for a fishing license in South Carolina are:

  • A state issued identification document.
  • Social security number or alien identification number.
  • Proof of residency with your unexpired State of South Carolina Driver’s license or Identification Card.
  • Military personnel and their dependents stationed in SC for 30 days or longer, or who are domiciled in this state, are eligible for resident privileges. Valid military identification must be presented when applying.
  • All fisherman above the age of 16 must have a valid South Carolina Fishing License to fish at Lake Murray. 

Lake Murray Specific Regulations:

  • No largemouth bass less than 14 inches in total length. 
  • It is unlawful to possess more than 5 striped bass a day. 
  • On Lake Murray and the middle reach of the Saluda River.
  • From June 1 to September 30, it is unlawful to take, attempt to take, or possess more than 5 striped bass a day.
  • From October 1 to May 31, it is unlawful to possess a striped bass less than 21 inches in total length. From June 1st to September 30th there is no minimum length on Lake Murray and the middle reach of the Saluda River.
  • Allowable Non-game Devices

There are 12 public boat ramps, plus several private ones, and 12 marinas on Lake Murray. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources maintains 24 fish attractor locations at Lake Murray, with buoys to mark them. Do not drop anchor near the fish attractors because you risk becoming entangled in them. Multiple lake access areas have fishing piers that provide access to the lake for shore fishermen. Rods, reels, and tackle boxes are available at Dreher Island State Park.

October is a great month for bass species, crappie, and catfish action on Lake Murray. A significant number of fish remain active during the winter months. Striper fishing patterns change on Lake Murray as spring gives way to summer, but the constant is that fish-catching opportunities remain excellent when anglers adapt to changes in the weather and water temperatures that result in fast-changing striper behavior. Winter and summer fishing is excellent with so many game fish swimming around. 

Fishing opportunities are outstanding at Lake Murray, whether you fish from a boat or the shoreline. Competitive anglers can enter fishing tournaments throughout the year. Find tournament information at the marinas and local bait and tackle shops. To increase your local fish knowledge and improve your chance of success, many professional fishing guides are available for hire, and there are too many fishing charter services to count.

Find experienced local guides on our Lake Murray SC Fishing Guides page. 


Boating Lake Murray

Lake Murray is so deep at points that it supports many types of boats, from canoes to yachts. Deck and pontoon boats are popular for groups with kids and pets. Lake Murray’s calm water is just right for a smooth cruise on a pontoon boat or tubing with coolers and snacks in tow. Hundreds of lake lubbers hit Lake Murray with pontoon boats every season. There is plenty of room for all kinds of water sports. 

On the Lexington side of the dam, there is an awesome swim beach. Great picnicking and paddling can be found near the town of Irmo, South Carolina, with a launch pad that sits just a few inches below the water so you can get on your stand-up paddle board or into your kayak without tipping over. Boaters can visit approximately 60 islands, and the shoreline scenery is undeniably gorgeous.

There are plentiful boat ramps and marinas around Lake Murray at any point, so location to play around on the water is only a matter of choice, and considering what your boating needs are. There are bunches of boat rental services offering all the best boating options for your adventures dotted around Lake Murray, plus cruising charters offering various adventures. 

Find or sell a boat on our Lake Murray SC Boats for Sale page. 


Lake Murray Marinas

Twelve marinas call Lake Murray home and offer different services and amenities, like wet slips, dry storage, boat lifts, cabin rentals, boat rentals, repair services, equipment rentals, ship’s stores, tours, live events, beer gardens, courtesy docks, etc. They offer too many amenities to mention. Whatever your boat needs, one of the Lake Murray Marinas has you covered. There is a marina located near every section of Lake Murray, so find your favorite place to have fun on Lake Murray, and you will find a marina nearby.

Plan your trip to the lake by finding a marina on our Lake Murray SC Marinas page. 


Lake Murray Real Estate

Lake Murray’s properties make up the third largest real estate market for lake homes and lots in South Carolina. Generally, there are 280 lake homes for sale, plus 360 lake lots and land for sale at any given time. Homes are offered at many price points, but Lake Murray homes for sale have an average list price of $459,000.

Columbia and Lexington, South Carolina, lay just a few miles from Lake Murray’s southeastern borders. As you move further west on Lake Murray, the region becomes more rural. Shoreline property is sparsely inhabited. Lake homes are secluded and peaceful. There are a few bar and grill joints, and restaurants around the lake, but most of the nightlife and shopping centers are found in Columbia and Lexington. 

Lexington County School District One, Two, and Five, plus a few independent elementary schools serve Lake Murray’s educational needs. Lake Murray is 41 miles long, east to west. On its western edge, there are no schools. Saluda School District One is the closest public school system to Lake Murray’s western border. 

To find your dream lake home, explore our Lake Murray SC Homes for Sale page. 


Lake Murray Cabins and Vacation Homes

Plentiful options abound around Lake Murray if you are looking for a vacation home or cabin rental. So many of these rentals are right on the water with magnificent views and too many amenities to list. Vacationers will find homes and cabins with private docks, great decks, fire pits, grills, fishing piers, hot tubs, with modern features to cozy quarters that sleep two to 14 guests and more, plus some are pet friendly. 

There are condo and apartment rentals, hotels, and lodges, with private owners and in lakeside parks, plus several rental agencies located on the lakefront who will find the perfect rental for your Lake Murray adventure. There is something for every family or group with plenty of picnic areas, and all the other pleasures people seek at the lakeside to enjoy and create lifetime memories.  

Find the perfect vacation home on our Lake Murray SC Cabins page. 


Camping at Lake Murray

Lake Murray camping opportunities are available at Dreher Island State Park and several privately owned campgrounds located or near the lake. Dreher Island State Park has the largest campground at Lake Murray with 112 RV and tent campsites. Developed and primitive campsites are available. Most sites have water and electrical hookups. Amenities include showers, restrooms, picnic areas, a dump station, and Lake Murray boat launch ramps.

For example, the Acapulco USA Campground offers campsites that have a minimal 90-day rental period. All RV campsites sites include water, electrical hookups, and sewer taps. Campground amenities include a boat launch ramp, fishing pier, grill area, beach volleyball area, boat parking, laundry facilities, Ice, walking and hiking, boat rentals and cabin rentals.

Other campgrounds and marinas have smaller camping areas and there are seven other parks offering different services including mixed tent and RV campsites with short and long-term availability, swim beaches, swimming pools, boat ramps, showers, fish cleaning stations, restaurants, bait and tackle stores, and more. 

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


Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails at Lake Murray 

Fourteen Mile Creek Trail is located off North Lake Drive and Old Cherokee Road near Lexington, South Carolina. The trail is a 1.7 mile out and back loop with 10-foot-wide paths that features bridges, an educational kiosk, an outdoor learning center, and rated for easy hiking skill levels.

Dreher Island State Park occupies the largest islands in Lake Murray with three hiking trails. Its Little Gap Trail is 2.1 miles and rated as a strenuous skill level. Hikers will wander up and down through thick forests of pines and hardwoods that are home to a number of animal and bird habitats. Hikers may sight a bald eagle in this area. Interesting white rocks line the trail in spots as you make a loop at the end of the peninsula.

Dreher Island’s Billy Dreher Nature Trail is a short, easy trail at 0.3-mile long short, easy walking loop on a peninsula, which passes the ruins at the former site of the Billy Dreher home. You can sight ducks, geese, and turtles as you pass by the shoreline.

Dreher Island’s Bicycle Bypass Trail is a 0.3-mile long hiking and mountain biking trail which bisects the State Park Loop Road and connects to its camping area and tackle shop. You can walk or ride safely through this wooded area and avoid the narrow paved loop road if you wish.

The Dreher Shoals Dam Walk is a walking pathway across the top of the Dreher Shoals Dam along S.C. Highway 6. It is a popular place for walking and jogging. The distance is 1.7 miles each way for a total of 3.4 miles. This walkway offers spectacular views of Lake Murray and even the downtown Columbia skyline only 11 miles away. 


Hunting Lake Murray

Legal game species at Lake Murray are deer, dove, duck, hog, and turkey. Migratory waterfowl hunting regulations fall under federal regulations. Licenses and permits are required for hunting in South Carolina. All residents and nonresidents born after June 30, 1979 must successfully complete a hunter education course that is approved by the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) before a hunting license can be obtained. 

South Carolina offers “Free Hunting Days” on January 15 & 16 on private lands and January 15 on Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lands. This opportunity is only valid for residents of South Carolina that do not have a current state hunting license. Individuals are permitted to hunt without a state hunting license or other required permits, including a WMA permit, or Migratory Waterfowl Permit on all lands where hunting is allowed, including private lands and WMAs that are not otherwise closed to hunting. Many WMAs may be closed to waterfowl hunting or other types of hunting, or have special restrictions. 

The penalties for violating hunting regulations at Lake Murray are:

  • (A) For purposes of this section:
    • "Lake Murray" means and includes the area from Lake Murray Dam to one-half mile upstream of Harmon's Bridge on Secondary Road 41-44 and upstream to Kempson's Ferry Bridge on Highway 395, excluding tributaries;
    • "bait" means shelled, shucked, or unshucked corn; wheat or grain; salt; or other feed that would constitute a lure, attraction, enticement, or bait to waterfowl;
  • (B) It is unlawful to hunt migratory waterfowl on that portion of Lake Murray lying within Newberry and Saluda Counties within two hundred yards of a dwelling or marina without written permission of the owner and occupant.
  • (C) It is unlawful to hunt migratory waterfowl on that portion of Lake Murray lying within Lexington and Richland Counties within three hundred fifty yards of a dwelling or marina without written permission of the owner and occupant.
  • (D) From November 1 to February 1 of the following year, it is unlawful to bait, assist in, or cause to be baited any of the waters of Lake Murray below the lakefront property line. Provided, nothing in this section makes it unlawful to casually feed foodstuffs to waterfowl or to fill and use bird and other wildlife feeders.
  • (E) A person who violates subsections (B) and (C) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.
  • (F) A person who violates subsection (D) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one hundred dollars.

Things to Do At Lake Murray

Bunches of golfing opportunities are available at Lake Murray from the Timberlake Country Club on a northern Lake Murray peninsula, where boating golfers can call ahead and be picked up by a six-passenger golf cart and driven to their round, the Lake Murray Golf Center, a serene 9-hole, par 3 course, driving range, mini golf, and event destination, to the northeast Columbia, South Carolina, collection of golf courses and golf course communities in the Lake Murray region with seven unique, affiliated golf courses.

There are a few bar and grills right on Lake Murray’s shore and more options only a few miles away from the shore. The restaurants serve a variety of cuisines, some are microbreweries or tap rooms, and some have live music. Visitors will find more entertainment choices in nearby Columbia and Lexington, South Carolina.

Take a cruise on Lake Murray. Several boat cruise charters offer tours around Lake Murray with private and public tours, party barges, and cruises with bar hopping tours, custom tours, history tours, real estate tours, sunset tours, water taxis, and wedding ceremonies.

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a 170-acre zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden located along the Saluda River in Columbia, South Carolina. It is home to over 2,000 fascinating animals and one of the nation’s most beautiful and inspiring botanical gardens. It is located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, South Carolina, 13 miles southeast of Lake Murray’s eastern shores. 

EdVenture Children’s Museum is the largest children's museum in the southeast United States, located in Columbia, South Carolina, at 211 Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina. At this museum, children role-play as firefighters, grocers, farmers, chefs, astronauts, and more. Even toddler moms report a wonderful “edventure”. 

The South Carolina State Museum has four floors of permanent and changing exhibits, a digital dome planetarium, a 4D interactive theater, and an observatory. The State Museum is located along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, at 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, South Carolina.

The Museum of the Reconstruction Era at the Woodrow Wilson Home is located at 1705 Hampton Street, Columbia, South Carolina. The Woodrow Wilson Family Home is our nation's only museum dedicated to interpreting the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. This museum is housed in South Carolina's only remaining presidential site. Through multifaceted interpretation, the Museum of the Reconstruction Era interprets Columbia’s late 19th-century history to dispel the myths of Reconstruction that are so prevalent in society today.

The historic Corley House Plantation in Lexington, South Carolina, is the birthplace of Lexington. It is located at 121 Berly Street, Lexington, South Carolina. Descendent Chuck Corley shares this about his family history,

"The Town of Lexington was founded on part of our plantation by my family and most of present day Lexington is as well. Granny Corley, in 1820, deeded two acres to the state so the county seat could be moved to our plantation. She also mapped out seven lots for the original Town. I still own the seventh lot and the 1850 home that sits on it, built by her granddaughter Margaret Corley. My father remembers his granddaddy telling him that the reason Main Street is as wide as it is because that was the width it took Granny's driver to turn her carriage around to head 300 feet back to her home!"

Plan your next trip on our What To Do At Lake Murray SC page.


Lake Murray Weather & Climate

Lake Murray sees an average of 47 inches of rain, with one inch of snow, and 218 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 33 degrees with 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. Stay up to date with our Lake Murray SC Weather Forecast page.


Lake Murray Zip Codes

Lexington County: 29006, 29033, 29036, 29053, 29054, 29070, 29071, 29072, 29073, 29123, 29160, 29169, 29170, 29171, 29172, 29210, 29212, 29228. 

Newberry County: 29108, 29127, 29178, 29075, 29126, 29037, 29145, 29355, 29122.

Richland County: 29002, 29016, 29036, 29044, 29045. 29052, 29061, 29063, 29075, 29078, 29147, 29177, 29201, 29202, 29203, 29204, 29205, 29206, 29207, 29208, 29209, 29210, 29211, 29212, 29214, 29215, 29216, 29217, 29218, 29219, 29220, 29221, 29222, 29223, 29224, 29225, 29226, 29227, 29229, 29230, 29240, 29250, 29260, 29290, 29292.

Saluda County: 29006, 29037, 29070, 29105, 29129, 29138, 29166, 29832.


Lake Murray Flora and Fauna

SCE&G lake management established the Lake Murray Shoreline Habitat Enhancement Project, which works to re-establish shoreline vegetation, control erosion, protect water quality, and enhance the fish habitat. Common wildlife sightings include white-tail deer, wild turkey, geese, waterfowl, wild boar, and an occasional alligator. The variety of tree species lining Lake Murray’s shoreline includes bald cypress, southern wax myrtles, willow oaks, and crabapples.

Lake Murray SC Email Updates


 

Lake Murray SC Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Lake Murray SC Weather Forecast

Sunday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 87

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 60

Monday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 87

Monday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 64

Tuesday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 91

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 69

Wednesday

Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 93

Wednesday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 71


Lake Murray SC Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 6/5: 356.27 (-3.73)



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