Best State Parks in Tennessee

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Tennessee's State Parks were selected as the nation's best in 2007, and in those short years, the state's natural areas have only gotten better. With several state parks reopening since 2000, Tennessee is keen on keeping its rivers running wild, its daunting cliffs as established as ever and its beautiful forests and mountains as iconic as the day they formed. Whether you prefer to climb, hike, pedal or row your way across, you're sure to find your favorite natural patch at the best state parks in Tennessee:

smoky mountain waterfall

Fall Creek Falls

Located in Spencer, just 106 miles southeast of Nashville, Fall Creek Falls is the golden child among Tennessee's best state parks. Here, you can pack everything from your tennis whites to your worn-in hiking boots and fit in. An on-site golf course and plenty of tennis courts provide places to enjoy the serene natural escapes without getting too dirty, while biking, fishing and hiking are all in great supply as well.

If you're in the mood to explore, you simply can't come here without enjoying the Fall Creek Falls Trail. Although only spanning about half a mile, this hike is strenuous, so be prepared with your sturdiest pair of shoes and plenty of H2O. Of course, being the namesake of the park, you can be sure that this short but steep path has a great payoff: Fall Creek Falls, the eastern United States' tallest waterfall. After a day of action-packed fun, you can even eat well! No need for protein bars or space meals - the Fall Creek Falls Inn & Restaurant's all-you-can-eat buffet is one that even the heartiest explorer won't be able to sidestep.

Paris Landing

Sure, this park shares its name with one of the most posh and fashionable cities in the world, but expect only pure natural beauty when you set foot on this 841-acre park. Located near the town of Buchanan, Paris Landing State Park is the perfect place for lovers of all water sports - the park borders the Tennessee River and Kentucky Lake. Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, boating, jet skiing and water skiing are all encouraged here.

If you forget your swimming suit, never fear! Paris Landing sits right on the border of the always- magical Land Between The Lakes, the national recreation area that spans 170,000 acres of undisturbed brilliance.

bald eagle hiking

Edgar Evins

If you're staying in a vacation rental near Nashville and looking for a great day trip, head to Edgar Evins, located just about 1 hour east of the city center by way of Interstate 40. Wildlife literally runs and flies rampant here, with avian sightings being the most common. Three types of owls reside here, as well as the rare cerulean warbler, a gorgeous blue bird with a bright white chest - look for it high in the treetops here! Also in residence are bald eagles and several species of hawks. For the amaeur silviculturalists, springtime is the best for a visit, as they are the most aromatic and vivid. Bright yellow tulip poplars, pungent wild cherry and mammoth hickories all make these forests a treat to meander through. Please note that Edgar Evins is known for its undulating terrain, so if you're in the mood for a game or activity that requires a large, flat space, this may not be the best locale for you.

If you've got little ones in tow, summer is often the best time to visit - there's too many good things going on at once! Help make a batch of fresh ice cream, give your kids their first fishing lesson or learn about the park's history through the many different guided activities available.

While no two state parks in the Volunteer State are alike, each one highlights a different facet of Tennessee's unique valleys and peaks. No matter where you choose, you're sure to uncover something new!

Tims Ford

Tennessee has more than its fair share of great fishing spots, but some of the best quiet reserves are found in Tims Ford State Park (near Johnson City and Boone Lake vacation rentals). The park is part of Tims Ford Reservoir, which is highly regarded nationwide for its excellent bass fishing opportunities, particularly smallmouth and striped varieties. Crappie, catfish and bluegill are also common here.

Set your boat up at the Lakeview Marina, or rent your boat for the week from local vendors - there's always plenty of bait to buy here as well! However, if you're looking for fuel and larger boats, head to Holiday Landing Resort and Marina, the only full-service marina in the park. However, if the fish aren't biting, you can always pedal yourself to a satisfying day with a bike around the Shoreline Trail, which follows the shoreline, or the appropriately-named Bicycle Trail, which weaves in and out of the gorgeous woodlands.

Tims Ford is located in Franklin County near the city of Winchester, which is about 71 miles west of Chattanooga.