Bear Trace Tims Ford

Tims Ford State Park: Great Golf, Fishing, Camping, and More

The December weather was balmy when we visited Tims Ford State Park which is located on the shores of the scenic 10,700-acre lake, roughly midway between Lynchburg and Winchester and less than a two hour drive south of Nashville.

So it was not surprising to see golfers teeing up on the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus course, anglers casting to the banks or hikers and bikers heading into the woods on more than 27 miles of trails including the 12-mile Ray’s Branch Shoreline Trail to enjoy the dazzling day.

Bear Trace Tims Ford

The Bear Trace at Tims Ford is situated on a peninsula in Tims Ford Lake and provides several challenging and scenic holes including a 453-yard, par-four 18th hole with traditional Nicklaus bunkers and a deep-water shoreline.

We were traveling with Jake, our golden retriever, and ready for some quality outdoor time. We made our first stop at the Visitor Center for maps and information about all the 2,500-acre park has to offer.

By the time I made my way back to the car, my wife, Cathy, and Jake had located a trailhead and started down one of the park’s most popular trails, Lost Creek Overlook. Jake was having a tail-wagging good time – until he saw the 164-foot suspension bridge. He had no desire to cross it nor would he have been happy to see the bird’s eye view from the 180-foot suspension bridge waiting down the trail.

So they retraced their steps and we all headed for the paved Marble Plains ADA accessible trail that also starts at the Visitor Center. It leads 1.1 miles to a panoramic view from an observation deck that looks out over Lost Creek, Big Island, Little Island and beyond.

We enjoyed an easy stroll on the bridge along the paved bike trail with Jake, our golden retriever.

Turns out at Tims Ford you can have your own island – at least for a few days! You’ll need a free backcountry camping permit, a boat, canoe or kayak to get to your island, and a plan to pack in and pack out everything you’ll need including water because this is truly primitive camping. Only one group of up to six people at a time is given access to each of the six islands in the lake. How totally cool is that? Think fishing from a bank that runs 360 degrees around your camp.

We have our sights set on Leatherwood Island for our next trip since it’s within view of the park’s Lake View Boat Dock and Restaurant in case we develop an uncontrollable urge for a taste of civilization and strawberry ice cream.

J.R. Tinch and Josh Kuykendall were hard at work putting the finishing touches on a new trail that begins near Lake View. They took time to share their enthusiasm for the new project, showing us the trail. The trail follows the shoreline and offers lots of access for bank fishing with crappie stake beds and colorful sunset views.

Tims Ford is well known for its scrappy smallies but stripers, largemouth bass, crappie, stripe, catfish and bream are also popular game fish species.

Water, electric hookups and bath houses are available year round at 52 RV and tent campsites inside the main park. Fairview Devil’s Step campground is a seasonal satellite campground about eight miles from the main entrance with 80 additional sites and a bathhouse.

We toured the park’s cabins with Ranger Kenny Gragg. We decided the pet friendly unit would be perfect for a return trip with Jake.

Tims Ford Cabins

Outdoor balconies on each cabin invite you to linger over breakfast and relax as night falls.

Wildlife is plentiful. Large and small game hunting is available during regular Tennessee seasons.

Campers may reserve improved campsites up to a year in advance by visiting the park’s office or calling 800-471-5295 from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 931-962-1185 or click here.


Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on

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