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Posted 12/20/2022 in Tims Ford Lake Activities

History of Tims Ford State Park

History of Tims Ford State Park

History of Tims Ford State Park  

3,546-acre Tims Ford State Park sits in the shadows of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee and within the Winchester TN zip code.. The 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.  

Tims Ford State Park -- Boilng Fork TrailTims Ford State Park -- Bolling Fork Hiking Trail

The Tims Ford Dam was finished in 1970 with the Tims Ford Lake being fully filled by mid-year 1971 which was faster than expected.  There were plans in motion already to have a Tims Ford State Park built and the vision became reality in 1978 with the park being opened with 478 acres1 including a visitor center, twenty cabins, fifty campsites, a marina, hiking trails, a large lakeside picnic area, and various recreational facilities, and one of the largest swimming pools in the state park system. 

The swimming pool unfortunately closed in 2021 due to a combination of lower use and the increasing cost of maintenance.

How Did Tims Ford State Park Expand?

In 1997, the state of Tennessee paid TVA $1.3 million4 to purchase 1,600 additional acres to be added for the Tims Ford State Park.

The first expansion of the park was with the addition of the 6,790 yard Bear Trace Tims Ford Golf Course1 designed by Jack Nicklaus that opened in 1999.  Prior to the golf course opening the state park had not grown over its 478 acres3

Tims Ford State Park expansion in the newsTims Ford State Park Expansion - Tennessean 4 Jan 1997

In 2011, Gov Haslam at the time participated in the ribbon cutting for the new 4,000 sqft visitor center2 and Overlook trail which includes two cable bridges. Since 2000, the park has grown by over 2,000 acres based on the Tims Ford Reservoir Land Management and Disposition Plan. This included the islands in the lake which allow for camping with a reservation.

The trail system generally expanded on Tims Ford State Park property with the help of local groups and funds from both the state of TN and outside funds.  There are 11 hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties that currently extend over 23 miles of hiking and biking trails.  Many of which overlook the water.

Hiking is one of the great things to do in the area.

What Are The Hiking Trails At Tims Ford State Park?

There are numerous hiking trails at Tims Ford -- and they are all picturesque.  A Tims Ford State Park Hiking Map can be viewed or downloaded here.  

Tims Ford State Park Hiking MapTims Ford State Park Hiking Map

  • Lost Creek Overlook Trail — 1.3 Miles — Natural — Moderate  **This trail is a beautiful trip that follows the lake perimeter.  Keep an eye out for a 1930's car towards the beginning of the trail.

  • Overlook Trail — 1.0 Miles — Paved — ADA Accessible

  • Marble Plains Loop Trail — 1.2 Miles — Natural — Moderate

  • 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

  • Clifton Doyle Trail — 0.8 Miles — Natural — Easy

  • Boiling Fork Loop Trail — 2.4 Miles — Natural — Moderate

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

After hiking you can always grab a nice meal at one of the Tims Ford Lake restaurants.

Is the Hiking Good at Tims Ford State Park?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the hiking at the park though everyone has their own preferences as always.  Here are some reviews from Google on the hiking in the park:

  • Linda:  "Great place to go hiking. Trails are marked very well. But the distance markers are almost non existent. This is a must for me. Very clean in 90% of the areas."

  • Holly:  Great hiking trails for all levels of hikers or just to take a stroll with pets and children

  • Amaryllis:  Beautiful park. Plentiful trails for all skill levels. Very nice visitor center and nature area. My dogs and I really enjoy our hikes here and you can always find a less used trail to just escape into nature. Make sure to pick up after your pets and always pack out what you take in and leave what you find (that isn't trash). Water spigots available for use near the visitor center.


  1. Tims Ford State Park http://tnency.utk.tennessee.edu/entries/tims-ford-state-park/
  2. Opening of the Tims Ford State Park Visitor Center https://www.tn.gov/news/2011/7/14/governor-haslam-officially-opens-tims-ford-state-park-visitor-center-and-tr.html
  3. Tennessean, 26 March 1995, p16.  Two State Parks Added To Golf List  
  4. Tennessean, 4 Jan 1997, p1.  "Park Growth Plan a 'Dream Come True'

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