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Posted 01/21/2023 in Tims Ford Lake Activities

Exploring Tennessee's Tims Ford State Park

Exploring Tennessee's Tims Ford State Park

Exploring Tennessee's Tims Ford State Park 

Welcome to Exploring Tennessee's Tims Ford State Park.  

Here, you will find a unique outdoor experience that encompasses both nature and adventure. Located in Winchester, Tennessee, the state park is nestled between the Eastern Highland Rim and the Appalachian Plateau, allowing visitors to explore and discover the beauty of a diverse landscape. 

From lush forests and rolling hills to clear streams and picturesque coves, the 3,546-acre park offers an abundance of natural wonders to explore. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping, and more. Plus, with plenty of educational programs and exciting events, there's something for everyone in this amazing destination.   

Tims Ford Lake is considered one of the most picturesque lakes in Tennessee and is regarded as one of the top bass fishing and recreational lakes in the Southeast.  You may see some of the wildlife on one of the many hiking trails.

We've written a separate article on the history of Tims Ford State Park.

Tims Ford State ParkTims Ford State Park

How Did Tims Ford State Park Get Its Name?

In the early 1970's, Tennessee Valley Authority dammed up the Elk River that wound through the area.  The river is fed by the Woods River Dam to the Northeast of the lake. Before the Dam was built and in the 1800's there were farms, and a small city called Awalt.  

By where the dam is today, there was a ford across the river that was built by Absalom "Abner" Mansfield Tims. (A river "ford" is a shallow place to cross a river by foot or car).  Abner Tim's Ford eventually became the name of the lake and the state park as well.

In 1978, the Tims Ford State Park opened .

Nature and Wildlife in Tims Ford State Park

Tims Ford State Park is a haven for wildlife, offering visitors the opportunity to observe over 135 species of birds, plus deer, racoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and numerous other animals. Anglers can enjoy the lake's waters, as it is home to a variety of fish species. Fishing is pretty good for Largemouth, Spotted bass but is best known for Smallmouth Bass. The lake is stocked annually with Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass . 

Tims Ford State Park DeerTims Ford State Park Deer
(stock photo)

Hiking and Biking at Tims Ford State Park

There are eleven trails to go hiking and biking on at the park with the shortest being 0.3 miles and the longest 6 miles. Click here for a full list of hiking in the Tims Ford Lake area. Here's a list of the trails and accessibility at Tims Ford Lake State Park:  

You can get a Tims Ford State Park map (link to trail map here) at the visitor's center.

  • Lost Creek Overlook Trail — 1.3 Miles — Natural — Moderate
    • This is my favorite hike in the park as it traverses along the water the whole way.  Truly beautiful.

  • Overlook Trail — 1.0 Miles — Paved — ADA Accessible
    • This trail is paved and bicycle accessible that takes you back from the Lost Creek Overlook Trail.  It also takes you to the overlook to Tims Ford Lake.

  • Marble Plains Loop Trail — 1.2 Miles — Natural — Moderate
    • This is an extension of the Lost Creek Overlook Trail.

  • Ray Branch Shoreline Trail — 6.0 Miles — Natural — Difficult

  • Evans Loop Trail — 3.0 Miles — Natural — Moderate

  • Spann House Trail — 4.0 Miles — Natural — Moderate

  • Highland Rim Wildflower Trail — 0.3 Miles — Natural — Moderate

  • Tims Ford Bicycle Trail — 6.0 Miles — Paved — Easy
    • This is my favorite biking trail -- partially along the water but ends on a peninsula that has water on three sides.  

  • Clifton Doyle Trail — 0.8 Miles — Natural — Easy

  • Boiling Fork Loop Trail — 2.4 Miles — Natural — Moderate
    • This trail is located by the Fairview Devils Step Campground and not in the main park.  It is quite close also to downtown Winchster.

  • Old Mansford Storybook Trail — 0.3 Miles — Paved — Easy

Tims Ford State Park Hiking TrailTims Ford State Park Hiking Trail

Tims Ford State Park Camping

There are many opportunities for Tims Ford State Park Camping.   Tims Ford State Park Camping has 168 campsites, including sites for RV camping across three different locations: Main (at the main state park area), Turkey Creek, and Fairview Devils Step Campground. The campgrounds also offers a variety of amenities, including showers, flush toilets, and dump stations. The park also offers a variety of programs, from ranger-led hikes to interpretive programs. 

The Fairview Devil's Step Campground is located on the water with water accessible sites and is across from the Devil's Step island and adjacent to the Devil's Step boat ramp.

Tims Ford State Park CampgroundTims Ford State Park Campground

Tims Ford State Park Camping on Islands

Additionally, there are also 14 different primative Tims Ford State Park camping sites that are either hike-in or paddle-in only campsites. The paddle-in sites are on different islands (how cool is that!!!!!)

The Islands you can camp on have either one or two primitive sites to camp.  Also, you must take your own boat or kayak to these islands.  There are no docks to dock your boat.  The TIms Ford Lake islands are as follows:

  • Devils Step Island
  • Big Island
  • Little Island
  • Leatherwood Island
  • Maple Bend Island
  • Goose Island

Tims Ford Lake State Park Camping IslandsTims Ford Lake State Park Islands to Camp On

Reservations are required for all of the camping sites and can be made at the Tims Ford State Park Reservations website.

Visitors can also enjoy a variety of water sports, such as swimming, water skiing, and tubing. The Lakeview Marina is within the park and provides boat rentals (pontoon, kayak, etc), as well as a launching ramp for visitors who wish to bring their own boats. Tims Ford State Park is truly a great destination for outdoor lovers of all ages.

Water Sports at Tims Ford State Park

There are a variety of water sports available at Tims Ford State Park. Boating, swimming, and canoeing are popular activities for visitors who want to explore the waters of the Tims Ford Lake. For those looking for a more thrilling experience, there is tubing and wakeboarding. Visitors can find Tims Ford Lake boat rentals for both pontoon boats and kayaks from the park's marina, which also provides fuel and other necessary supplies.

The marina is one of four Tims Ford Lake Marinas. All marinas rent boats and have restaurants. The below Tims Ford Lake map gives you an idea of where the marinas are and where the state park is relative to the lake.

Tims Ford Lake MapTims Ford Lake Map

Golfing At Bear Trace Tims Ford State Park 

The Jack Nicklaus designed Bear Trace at Tims Ford State Park golf course is also in the park. This golf course is one of a handful of golf courses in the area. The Bear Trace Tims Ford is an 18 hole golf course with and has 6,764 yards of play (at gold tees).

Bear Trace Tims Ford Golf CourseBear Trace Tims Ford Golf Course

What Hotels are By Tims Ford State Park?

There are a multitude of hotels by Tims Ford State Park that are all within a short drive.  There are five cities surrounding the Tims Ford Lake of which most have hotels, motels, or inns.  And actually a few of the places to stay in Lynchburg are historical bed and breakfasts  (and again just a short drive away.  Additionally there are many home rentals around the lake for a more luxurious vacation (though more expensive as well).

What do the Tims Ford State Park Cabins Look Like?

There are many cabins on Tims Ford Lake and approximately 20 Tims Ford State Park Cabins .  These cabins are two room and one bathroom places to stay with many overlooking the lake.  Some cabins allow pets (though not all).  These popular cabins in the park can be reserved up to a year in advance.

The cabins are all within walking distance of the marina, hiking and biking trails, and all things that the park has to offer.

Tims Ford State Park CabinsTims Ford State Park Cabins

Is Tims Ford State Park Free?

Yes, Tims Ford State Park is free to enter. Though there are fees to use certain amenities in the park.  For example, if you want to reserve a camping site, you must pay the reservation fee which is quite nominal.  Or pay to rent a Tims Ford State Park Cabin.

Is It Tim Ford State Park or Tims Ford State Park?

The name of the park is not TIm Ford State park -- it is Tims Ford State Park.  The reason why is that the park is named after the lake, and the lake was named after the Ford that was created by Abner Mansfield Tims.  The last name was actually Tims.  You can see his gravesite in Lynchburg TN.

Tims Ford State Park is a Beautiful Place to Enjoy All Year Long

My favorite time to visit is the fall when leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall. 

The smells and views are incredible!

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