The Most Snake-Infested Lakes in South Carolina

Philip Yabut/

Written by Kaleigh Moore

Updated: July 10, 2023

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South Carolina’s lakes are slithering with serpents, and we’re here to spill the beans on these reptile hotspots. Prepare for a wild ride as we navigate the most snake-infested waters in the Palmetto State. From the murky depths to the sun-kissed shores, you’ll be shocked at the serpent sanctuaries lurking in plain sight.

These are the most snake-infested lakes in South Carolina
The snakes around these lakes contribute to the health of their ecosystems.

In this action-packed adventure, we’ll wade through the waters of intrigue, uncovering the scaly secrets hidden beneath the surface. We’ll explore the habitats of these legless wonders, shedding light on their mysterious lives and their role in the local ecosystem. Expect the unexpected as we delve into the fascinating world of snakes and debunk common myths that have slithered their way into popular culture.

As we embark on this slippery journey, we’ll encounter an array of snake species that call these lakes home, from venomous vipers to harmless water snakes. Be prepared to have your mind blown as we reveal the truth behind the most notorious snake hangouts in South Carolina.

1. Lake Jocassee

A photo of Lake Jocassee in South Carolina, surrounded by mountains and foliage.

Lake Jocassee, one of the most snake-infested lakes in South Carolina, is nestled among stunning mountains and lush vegetation. It’s a popular spot for fishing, boating, and wildlife watching.

Behold Lake Jocassee a breathtaking South Carolina gem brimming with serpents and natural splendor. Despite its limited public access, this secluded oasis remains refreshingly uncrowded, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Tucked away within the enchanting Jocassee Gorges, this 7,565-acre haven is only accessible through Devils Fork State Park, adding a touch of mystique to its allure.

Framed by the Jocassee Gorges Wildlife Management Area and surrounding mountains, this crystal-clear lake boasts awe-inspiring views and pristine waters. Swimmers, scuba divers, and anglers alike will find themselves in seventh heaven as the lake teems with diverse fish, from bass and catfish to trout and sunfish.

As you venture into the wilds of Lake Jocassee, be prepared to encounter various snake species slithering along its shores and waters. But fear not; most of these reptilian residents are harmless, adding a touch of intrigue to this remarkable ecosystem.

One common species you might spot is the northern water snake, a non-venomous serpent that thrives in aquatic habitats. These snakes can often be seen basking on rocks or branches near the water’s edge, ready to dive in when startled or in pursuit of prey.

Another fascinating inhabitant is the eastern garter snake, known for its distinctive stripes running along the length of its body. This adaptable species is found near water sources. It hunts for amphibians, fish, and other small creatures.

While most snakes at Lake Jocassee are non-venomous, watch out for the venomous cottonmouth, also known as the water moccasin. Distinguished by its thick body and dark, vertical bands, this snake is typically found near water, basking on logs or branches.

2. Lake Marion

A scenic lake in South Carolina with an abundance of snakes.

With its picturesque scenery and abundance of snakes, Lake Marion is one of the most snake-infested lakes in South Carolina. Be sure to keep an eye out if you’re planning a visit.

Welcome to Lake Marion, South Carolina’s serpentine paradise with a twist. This colossal beauty, boasting a staggering 110,600 acres, has everything – from cypress stands to ghost towns and wildlife galore. Spanning five counties, this beautiful aquatic playground has no shortage of adventure.

Affectionately dubbed “Santee Cooper Country,” Lake Marion is a veritable utopia for anglers and nature lovers. With giant fish, foxes, deer, alligators, and an array of birds calling this haven home, it’s no wonder visitors flock here like bees to honey.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there. Explore the lake’s labyrinth of marshes aboard a trusty vessel, or hop from island to island, soaking up the awe-inspiring scenery. And for those seeking a unique getaway, Santee State Park’s quaint huts perched above the water offer a stay-cation you won’t forget.

Of course, Lake Marion’s tranquil shores also attract our slithering friends, making it one of South Carolina’s most snake-infested monikers. But don’t let that ruffle your feathers – simply watch for these reptilian residents and follow safety guidelines to ensure a smooth-sailing adventure.

3. Lake Murray

Lake Murray in South Carolina.

With its warm climate and plenty of hiding spots for snakes, Lake Murray is one of the most snake-infested lakes in South Carolina. Keep your eyes open while exploring.

Lake Murray, a 48,000-acre reservoir, is an adventurer’s paradise and one of South Carolina’s most snake-infested lakes. Brace yourselves, though – this slithery hotspot offers more than just spine-tingling encounters.

Just a stone’s throw from Columbia, Lake Murray beckons with marinas, eateries, and parks galore. Embark on a day trip, cruise the calm waters, or island-hop while admiring the once world’s largest dam. With 500 miles of shoreline, there’s no time for dilly-dallying.

Now, let’s talk snakes! This scaly playground is home to various venomous and non-venomous serpents lurking beneath the surface and basking along the shore. From harmless water snakes to the notorious cottonmouth, these slithering inhabitants add a dash of thrill to the lake’s vibrant ecosystem.

If you’re down for an unforgettable adventure, make tracks to Lake Murray. Keep your eyes peeled for those sneaky serpents, and remember to give them their space. After all, they’re just part of the wonderful world that makes this dazzling gem South Carolina’s crown treasure.

4. Lake Wylie

A photo of a summer sunset over Lake Wylie in South Carolina, USA with rippling waves and cypress trees along the shore.

While Lake Wylie is one of the most beautiful lakes in South Carolina, it’s also known for its large population of water snakes.

Lake Wylie is a snake-infested paradise that straddles the border between South Carolina and North Carolina. The lake lures visitors with its scenic beauty and slithery secrets. With a sprawling 12,177-acre area, Lake Wylie is nestled near Tega Cay, South Carolina, and boasts an impressive array of aquatic life, including crappie, white bass, perch, sunfish, chain pickerel, and catfish.

As you explore the lake’s 325-mile shoreline, you’ll stumble upon picnic spots, boat launches, fishing piers, yacht clubs, and even golf courses. The area buzzes with excitement from annual events such as water sports tournaments, live music festivals, fireworks exhibitions, and beer festivals. It’s truly a place where adventure and leisure intertwine.

But let’s not beat around the bush – the snakes steal the Lake Wylie show. These slithering residents play a vital role in maintaining the lake’s ecosystem, balancing the food chain, and keeping rodent populations in check. While enjoying the breathtaking scenery, don’t forget to tip your hat to these cold-blooded neighbors.

To ensure a safe and memorable visit to Lake Wylie, follow these handy tips:

  • Stay vigilant near shorelines, vegetation, and debris, where snakes may be lurking.
  • Keep an eye out for snakes while swimming, fishing, or boating.
  • Familiarize yourself with local snake species and give them space if encountered.
  • Wear protective clothing when venturing into the surrounding areas.

5. Lake Hartwell

Sunset over Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.

Lake Hartwell is known for its beautiful sunsets, but it also has an unwelcome inhabitant: snakes.

Lake Hartwell’s colossal 56,000-acre wonderland boasts a staggering 962-mile shoreline and offers a haven for fishing and boating enthusiasts. But beware, as this scenic landscape hides a snake-infested secret.

As you navigate the vast waters of Lake Hartwell, you’ll find tranquility and excitement coexisting beautifully. The lake teems with diverse fish species, from largemouth and spotted bass to striped bass, hybrid bass, black crappie, bream, trout, and stocked walleye. Though you might lose your bearings, you’ll never feel cramped in this watery playground.

Around the lake, marinas and lakefront restaurants pepper the shoreline, offering delightful dining experiences. Fishing tournaments, boat rallies, and other activities keep the area buzzing with life. Lake Hartwell may be a stone’s throw from Atlanta, but it serves up lakeside living at a fraction of the cost.

But let’s not mince words: Lake Hartwell is a snake lover’s dream. As you explore its winding shores, remember to tread carefully and stay vigilant. By respecting the serpentine residents and their vital role in the ecosystem, you can safely enjoy all the thrilling adventures that await you.

6. Lake Keowee

A view of Lake Keowee in South Carolina, an area known for its large population of snakes.

Take a dip in Lake Keowee with caution – this lake is one of the most snake-infested bodies of water in South Carolina. It’s home to a variety of species, including the northern water snake.

Lake Keowee is South Carolina’s hidden gem with a slithery twist. This breathtakingly blue oasis spans 18,372 acres and boasts a rich history rooted in the Cherokee people. Often dubbed one of America’s finest retirement lakes, Lake Keowee is notorious for its snake-infested reputation.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters, where you’ll find perfect temperatures year-round. There’s never a dull moment along Lake Keowee’s edge, with delectable dining options aplenty. High Falls County Park, South Cove County Park, and Keowee-Toxaway State Park offer prime lake access points for endless waterfront fun.

But it’s not just river otters and an impressive array of fish, like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, white crappie, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, and yellow perch, that call Lake Keowee home. The serpentine residents slither beneath the surface, adding an element of thrill to this aquatic paradise.

Remember that you’re sharing this gorgeous location with some of South Carolina’s most fascinating and slippery species. But don’t be deterred by the snakes. You may coexist happily and take advantage of all that Lake Keowee offers. 

7. Lake Moultrie  

A large lake in South Carolina, with a shoreline surrounded by trees and grass, and infested with snakes.

Though Lake Moultrie may look like a peaceful getaway spot, beware of the snake-infested waters. Exercise caution when visiting these bodies of water.

Lake Moultrie attracts hordes of visitors. Its closeness to Charleston adds icing on the cake. With 60,400 acres of water, it’s a hot spot for record-breaking black crappie and catfish catches.

Visitors find themselves knee-deep in diverse ecosystems. Great blue herons, blue crabs, and green anole lizards call this place home. Blackwater ponds, marshes, and cypress trees dot the coastlines, while fish teem beneath the surface.

Lake Moultrie’s abundant wildlife also includes a variety of snakes. These slippery residents can be a double-edged sword for visitors. While fascinating to observe, caution is key to avoiding any unwanted encounters.

Among the snake species found here, you might spot venomous ones like the cottonmouth and copperhead. Non-venomous snakes, such as the common water and rat snakes, also appear. Keep your eyes peeled and steer clear of these serpentine swimmers.

Lake Moultrie’s accessibility makes it a day-tripper’s paradise. From fishing to kayaking, there’s never a dull moment.

8. Lake Wateree

Lake Wateree south carolina

Lake Wateree is a popular destination for outdoor recreation in South Carolina, offering activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming.

Lake Wateree, a year-round magnet for campers, fishers, and boaters, boasts 13,025 acres and 242 miles of shoreline. Anglers reel in bass, catfish, bream, and crappie, making it an angler’s paradise.

Duke Energy built a hydroelectric power source in 1919, transforming the area into one of South Carolina’s oldest artificial lakes. The mature ecology has become a haven for wildlife. Deer prance on the grass, foxes scuffle at night, and alligators or turtles swim gracefully.

Birdwatchers delight in the native hawk, egret, duck, and osprey populations. It’s a bird lover’s utopia! But hold your horses—it’s also one of the most snake-infested lakes in South Carolina.

Venomous and non-venomous snake species slither around the area, adding a touch of intrigue. Watch for copperheads, cottonmouths, water snakes, and rat snakes. Tread carefully and respect their space.

9. Clarks Hill Lake

Photograph of Lake Moultrie and Clarks Hill Lake in South Carolina.

Watch out before taking a dip – both Lake Moultrie and Clarks Hill Lake in South Carolina are infested with snakes! Always be sure to exercise caution if swimming, fishing, or boating in these areas.

Clarks Hill Lake is a true marvel nestled along the Georgia-South Carolina border. This colossal, man-made beauty is the second-largest lake east of the Mississippi River, covering 70,000 acres. With endless opportunities for fishing, boating, and exploring charming towns, it’s a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Clarks Hill has earned quite a rep as one of South Carolina’s most snake-infested lakes. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for slithery locals while you’re out there reeling in monster catfish or catching some rays. 

South Carolina’s Snake Diversity

South Carolina is a snake enthusiast’s dream, with 38 unique snake species slithering across the state. While only six species are venomous, the remaining serpents are crucial in controlling rodents and other pest populations.

Among the most commonly spotted snakes are the swift black racers, often seen zipping through their habitats. Brown snakes, in contrast, prefer to stay concealed. Corn snakes mesmerize with vibrant colors, while eastern garter snakes proudly display their distinctive stripes. Eastern king snakes, boasting impressive sizes, dominate the South Carolina snake kingdom. Rough green snakes masterfully camouflage themselves within the foliage.

Non-venomous water snakes can frequently be observed splashing around, while rat snakes diligently work to regulate rodent populations. These fascinating creatures contribute significantly to the state’s ecosystem, making South Carolina a true paradise for snake aficionados. When you cross paths with one of these slithering wonders, take a moment to appreciate their diverse and vital roles within our environment.

Role of Snakes in the Ecosystem

Snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem, maintaining a delicate balance by acting as predator and prey. These fascinating creatures help keep rodent populations in check, preventing them from causing havoc and spreading diseases. 

Snakes control other pests like insects and slugs, ensuring healthy plant growth. Moreover, snakes serve as a tasty meal for larger predators such as birds and mammals, contributing to the circle of life and ensuring that no single species dominates the ecosystem. 

From their stealthy hunting skills to their role as prey, snakes never cease to amaze, and their essential contributions to our environment should not be overlooked. These unsung heroes work behind the scenes, helping maintain harmony in nature, and we should all appreciate their role in the intricate web of life.

Tips for Safely Observing Snakes in Their Natural Habitat

Ready to embark on a thrilling adventure to observe snakes in their natural habitat? Well, buckle up, and let’s dive into some handy tips for safely watching these fascinating creatures while respecting their space:

  • Keep a safe distance: Steer clear of trouble by admiring these fascinating creatures from afar.
  • Stick to the path: Resist wandering off-trail to minimize the risk of unexpected encounters.
  • Dress for success: Long pants and sturdy footwear go a long way in protecting you during your adventure.
  • Stay alert: With their masterful camouflage skills, snakes can be sneaky – so keep your wits about you.
  • Tread lightly: Leave nothing but footprints, ensuring the environment remains pristine for future visitors.

Slithering Off Into the Sunset: Wrapping Up Our Serpentine South Carolina Lake Adventures

Boating, fishing, and swimming in South Carolina’s lakes can be an amazing experience. But remember, these lakes may be home to various species of snakes. Be aware of your surroundings and any strange sights or smells to avoid a potentially hazardous encounter. If you encounter a snake while on the lake, remember not to overreact and maintain a respectful distance. 

While some snakes may seem intimidating, most pose no harm if given the right space. As we have seen with the snake-infested lakes in South Carolina, knowing how to assess situations involving wildlife can make all the difference in ensuring safe and enjoyable water activities. 

Summary of The Most Snake-Infested Lakes in South Carolina

1Lake JocasseeDevil’s Fork State Park
2Lake Marioncentral South Carolina
3Lake Murraynear Columbia
4Lake Wylieat the North Carolina-South Carolina border
5Lake Hartwellat the South Carolina-Georgia border
6Lake Keoweenorth-western corner of South Carolina
7 Lake Moultrie  close to Charleston
8Lake Wateree30 miles northeast of Columbia
9Clarks Hill LakeGeorgia-South Carolina border

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