Tim's Ford State Park: Picturesque Park Offers Sportsman Abundant Options
There are not many state parks out there like Tims Ford State Park. Offering a wide array of outdoor activities, whether it be hunting, fishing, golfing, discovering trails, or having a leisure day on the lake it is a must visit destination for any outdoor enthusiast.
Tims Ford State Park
Picturesque Park Offers Sportsmen Abundant Options
By John N. Felsher
Most parks prohibit hunting on their property. However, at Tims Ford State Park, sportsmen can hunt more than 20,000 acres. The park borders Tims Ford Lake near Winchester, Tenn.
“Besides huntable park property, people can also hunt Tennessee Valley Authority and Owl Hollow Mill Wildlife Management Area lands around the lake,” said Shawn Settle, the park manager. “People can easily walk from one piece of property to another and not even know it.”
To hunt park lands, sportsmen must obtain a free permit from the park office or on line. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency requires sportsmen hunting any WMA to purchase a state permit. Since people can easily wander from one tract of land to another, many people get both the park and state permits to cover them wherever they hunt.
People can hunt white-tailed deer by various means in accordance with state seasons and regulations. Although more known for numbers than giants, the area can produce big deer. People can also hunt turkey, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and other game. All appropriate state and federal laws for hunting in Tennessee apply.
"Most of the habitat is successional forest reclaimed from agricultural or pasture lands,” Settle said. “Much of the land grew back in native hardwoods. Oaks dominate, but we have a mix of trees. We’re one of only two locations known in Tennessee to have native butternut, a type of walnut.”
The lake covers nearly 11,000 acres. Many people rent canoes or kayaks from the park to paddle out to islands in the lake. Sportsmen could set up a camp on one side of an island and hunt waterfowl on the other. People can also launch their own boats or rent a pontoon boat at the park marina.
“The lake holds some dabbling ducks, but most people shoot divers,” advised Dalton Smith, the park ranger. “When cold fronts push through, we might get a bunch of birds moving through the area. That’s when people bag more dabbling ducks like gadwall, mallards and teal. We also have tons of Canada geese that stay around all year long.”
Deep and clear, Tims Ford Lake holds an excellent population of striped bass and hybrid crosses between stripers and white bass. Some stripers exceed 30 pounds. Anglers might also catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, catfish, sunfish and other species. Below the dam, people can fish the Elk River tailrace for rainbow, brown and brook trout.
In the fall, people also come to see the incredible foliage, usually lasting from the second week of October through the first week of November. Colors typically peak during the third week of October.
Whether planning a hunting, fishing, foliage viewing trip or just a quick getaway at any time, Tims Ford State Park guests will find many lodging and recreational options. People can rent cabins or stay in park campgrounds with all the amenities including easy boat access. Besides on the islands, some people prefer primitive camping in the park.
While staying at the park, people can hike or bike miles of trails and enjoy scenic views. On the trails, park guests might cross picturesque bridges, including two suspension bridges for a different type of experience. Golfers can get in 18 holes on a Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
“In my humble opinion, Tim’s Ford Lake is probably one of the prettiest lakes in Tennessee and our park is one of the prettiest parks in the state,” Settle exclaimed. “The Cumberland Plateau is just across the lake, which makes a great backdrop for anything anyone wants to do. If someone wants great views in a rustic setting and to enjoy one the best lakes in Tennessee, we’re the premier spot for that.”
The lake sits about 25 miles from Fayetteville, 50 miles from Huntsville, Ala. 80 miles from Chattanooga, 90 miles from Nashville and 200 miles from Atlanta. While in the area, people can also stay and dine at Tims Ford Marina near the park.
The park is open year round.