Center Yourself at Center Hill Lake
What’s not to like about Edgar Evins State Park? It overlooks Center Hill Lake, a beautiful highland reservoir that is one of my favorite spots. Decades ago, I took my wife there for our first big date because I was sure she’d love it. We paddled my canoe below the dam, caught trout and fixed a shore dinner that has since become the stuff of legend. Decades later, we’re still making good memories on Center Hill and I’m betting you will too.
Anglers are drawn above the dam for smallmouth, largemouth, spotted (Kentucky) bass, black-nosed crappie, walleye, bluegill and white bass that are found in such abundance that it seems something is always biting. Below the dam, trout entice fishermen to wet a line on the Caney Fork River, one of Middle Tennessee’s premier trout streams.
You can fish from the bank of the lake or the river but the marina at Edgar Evins offers rentals from houseboats to john boats for some quality time on the water. I usually head out with my wood-strip canoe whether I’m planning to be above or below the dam but I confess sometimes I haul my john boat to make covering the lower end of the 18,000-acre lake a little easier and save my strength for casting.
When we visited last week with our golden retriever, Jake, we found one of the ramps at Edgar Evins was closed. There’s renovation construction going on at the dam so call before you haul your boat to check on boat ramps in the park.
Although it was a week day, the marina was doing a brisk business so we headed to the second ramp where it was quieter and the Jakester could swim for a bit.
Not to worry if fishing, boating or swimming aren’t your things, the park has lots more to offer. More than 140 species of birds have been seen within the park’s 6,000 hilly acres but you can spot up to 35 species of butterflies while strolling along the native plant garden at the entrance to the visitor’s center. In addition to butterflies, there are more Kodak moments waiting at the top of the steel observation tower with its panoramic view of the lake and dam.
There are 34 rental cabins including some pet friendly units if your pooch is vacationing with you. Linens and cooking utensils are supplied – snacks and kibbles are up to you. The restaurant at the marina is open seasonally so it’s a good idea to call 931-858-2424 for hours and reservations.
The campsites have water and electrical hook ups, picnic tables, grills and fire rings. The longest handles a camper or cabin tent up to 33 feet. There are also nine primitive campsites available.
Twelve miles of hiking trails and special activities throughout the year introduce you to this Eastern Highland Rim treasure. Sunset cruises on Saturday evenings in August with the park manager offer relaxing tours on Center Hill Lake. Guided hikes provide a personal introduction to the night life and the wild side at Edgar Evins. Fall events include a hayride and a fall foliage tour. Call 800-250-8619 for reservation information for this gorgeous spot.