Exploring Edgar

A weekend at and around Edgar Evins State Park


Caney Fork watershed

Edgar Evins State Park is a popular destination for Middle Tennesseans looking for a getaway close to home. Located on Center Hill Lake, the park is only an hour outside of Nashville and offers top-notch state park lodging and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Read all about our favorite parts of the park and the best nearby places to visit in this guide!

This guide was co-written with our friends at Tennessee State Parks. To learn more about our partnership, read the statement at the end of the guide.

Stop for a Shake at Shop Springs Creamery
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Shop Springs Creamery

2816 Sparta Pike, Lebanon, TN 37090

If you’re traveling to Edgar Evins from the Nashville area or find yourself otherwise driving through Lebanon, be sure to make a pre-park stop at Shop Springs Creamery

This local creamery is as fresh as it gets. After gathering milk from the cows on their dairy farm, the Turner family sends their dairy to the creamery–located right across the street– where it is pasteurized and processed into ice cream, milk, and other products sold on-site.

Grab a delicious ice cream cone or shake before you head to the lake. And be sure to grab some goods to go, too. The family-owned business also sells milk and local beef from their cows at the creamery– both equally as delicious as their ice cream treats.

Image courtesy of Shop Springs Creamery

Set Up Camp
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Edgar Evins State Park

1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582

Once you arrive at the park, you’ll find that Edgar Evins offers two options for overnight adventures, cabins, and campsites.

The cabins sit on a hill above Center Hill Lake. They have a split-level design with the kitchen and living area on the upper level, the bedroom on the lower level, and the bathroom by the entrance foyer. These cabins are great for couples and families. Each can accommodate six adults with two double beds in the bedroom and a sofa sleeper in the living room. Guests can cool off in the summer at the pool that is open to cabin guests. There’s also a courtesy dock available year-round just a short distance from the cabins. 

RV and tent campers can enjoy the unique wooden-platform campsites that provide water and electric hookups. Some sites are nestled in the trees, while others hover over the lakeshore with incredible water views. There are also nine primitive campsites without water or electricity, nestled in the woods with some sites offering lake views. All the campsites have access to one of two bathhouses with hot showers. Nearby, the camp store sells firewood, snacks, and camping supplies from March to October.

Climb to the top of the Lookout Tower
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Edgar Evins State Park

1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582

Once you’ve settled in at your campsite or cabin, head over to the observation deck. 

This location, rising above the visitor center, is one of the unique features of Edgar Evins State Park. The tower allows visitors to stand above the treetops and lookout over the expansive lake and the surrounding hillsides. The visitor center is also a great place to meet the park rangers, grab a copy of a trail map, or pick up some souvenirs. 

Hike the Highland Rim Trail
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Edgar Evins State Park

1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582

Once you’ve taken in the views from the observation deck, put on your hiking boots and hit the Highland Rim Trail behind the visitor center.

This loop trail winds through the trees and out to the lake, where you’ll be able to stop on the lake’s shoreline and take in the view. The large rocks here make for a great resting point to grab a snack or enjoy a packed lunch. Then continue your trek back up the ridge. Since the hike begins and ends at the visitor center, you’ll have the opportunity to step inside and cool off on those hot summer days. 

If you’re up for more hiking, check out the 5.5-mile Merritt Ridge Trail or the 2.5-mile Millennium Trail. Many hikers will combine those two trails to form an 8-mile loop. There’s also a 0.40-mile storybook trail that features larger-than-life panels from the book “Anybody Home”? by Marianne Berkes, which tells a unique story about a possum named Polly. 

Boating on Center Hill Lake
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Edgar Evins State Park

1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582

Center Hill Lake is a peaceful oasis in middle Tennessee. Covering over 18,000 acres and encompassing roughly 415 miles of shoreline, the lake has become a popular boating and fishing destination that you can take advantage of on your trip.

Edgar Evins offers three boat launch ramps for public use. The Marina offers boat rentals and sells gas, fishing supplies, slip rentals, boat repair, and small gifts.

Scenic pontoon tours are also offered throughout the year at the state park. Check out the events calendar on Edgar Evin’s website to find upcoming ranger-led pontoon tours. These boat rides allow you to sit back and enjoy the stunning beauty of Center Hill and the surrounding shorelines while learning more about the natural elements.

Get Your BBQ on at Timberloft
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Timberloft Restaraunt

470 Gordonsville Hwy, Gordonsville, TN 38563

A day at the lake is sure to work up your appetite. Take a scenic, 20-minute drive out of the park, following the meandering Caney Fork, to Gordonsville. There you will find Timberloft, a locally-owned BBQ joint with great grub and unbeatable ambiance. 

The Texas-inspired restaurant has been a staple of the region since 1996 and offers a range of food and drinks to please everyone at your party. Their Slow-Smoked Texas Brisket is a signature dish– be sure to stop in on Saturdays to get it before it’s gone! If BBQ isn’t your jam, you can also order from a range of tacos, salads, and sides that grace their menu. 

Along with their food, Timberloft offers a full patio with outdoor seating, a stone fireplace for chillier nights, and lawn games. Grab some BBQ and a house-made margarita and relax after your day at Edgar Evins.

Stargazing Over Center Hill Lake
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Edgar Evins State Park

1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582

Once you’re done with dinner, get back to the state park for some stargazing.

Edgar Evins offers incredible views of the night sky over Center Hill Lake. A great spot for cabin guests to stargaze is the parking lot above the courtesy dock. You can grab some blankets and stay cozy in your car or bring some lawn chairs to enjoy the show. If you’re camping from a site on the lakeshore, you can enjoy views of the night sky from your site.

Pit Stop at Patty’s

Patty’s Restaurant

Rise and shine! It’s time for another day of adventure! But first, breakfast.

Head into the nearby town of Smithville and make a stop at Patty’s Restaurant. You’ll find all the classic breakfast diner faves at this locally-owned establishment. From omelets to pancakes to biscuits and gravy, you can chow down on some home-cooked meals at a great price. 

Patty’s offers generous portions and a small-town feel in the heart of Smithville. Grab a hearty breakfast and some coffee to fuel up for another day around Center Hill Lake and beyond.

Discover Nearby Waterfalls

One of the best things about Edgar Evins is its proximity to other popular state park attractions: Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls, Rock Island, and Fall Creek Falls. If you visited all four of those parks, you would have the potential to see at least 15 unique waterfalls! 

Side note: If you’re itching for more waterfall adventures, check out our Tennessee Waterfall Roadtrip Guide! 

Cummins Falls State Park
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Cummins Falls State Park

390 Cummins Falls Ln, Cookeville, TN 38501

Cummins Falls is home to Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall in terms of volume and is known for its refreshing swimming hole.

You can make the rugged hike down into the gorge and enjoy discovering the waterfall up close or observe the beauty from an overlook above. There are also multiple hiking trails above the gorge, such as the park’s newest 3-mile Delia Bell Meadow Trail, which allows access to an overlook of the Blackburn Fork River.

*A Note About Cummins Falls: If you plan to hike into the gorge to access the waterfall’s base, make sure you purchase a Gorge Access Permit from the visitor center for $6. These permits are also available online for purchase in advance of your visit. The hike to the base of the falls is around 1-mile but is quite strenuous and involves water crossings, boulders, and other obstacles. To stay safe on your visit, wear water-appropriate shoes and use a personal flotation device on children and weak swimmers. Once you reach the falls, you’ll find there is a lot to explore. Whether you’re happy with taking in the beauty from a sunny rock, swimming in the plunge pool, or exploring the falls up close, you’re sure to have an incredible day in the sun.

Burgess Falls State Park
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Burgess Falls State Park

4000 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN 38583

At Burgess Falls, you’ll find a series of waterfalls on the Falling Water River, including the strongest flowing falls in all of Tennessee. Take the River Trail to experience all three waterfalls and the beauty of the river in under 1 mile. If you’re looking for some additional adventure nearby, check out Window Cliffs State Natural Area. This 5.5-mile out-and-back hike includes multiple creek crossings, a waterfall, and incredible cliffs.

Rock Island State Park
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Rock Island State Park

82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581

One hour from Edgar Evins State Park, you’ll find Rock Island, home to impressive waterfalls, rushing cascades, and incredible overlooks. The park’s trails are under three miles making it easy to quickly explore multiple waterfalls, overlooks, and swimming holes. The two must-see waterfalls at the park include the 30-foot Great Falls and the 80-foot Twin Falls.

Fall Creek Falls State Park
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Fall Creek Falls State Park

2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585

Fall Creek Falls is Tennessee’s most visited state park drawing visitors from all across the globe. It’s a world of towering waterfalls, breathtaking overlooks, hiking, paddling, treetop adventures, golfing, fishing, and more.

The park’s biggest claim to fame is being home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the Eastern United States, Fall Creek Falls. This 256’ waterfall is one of the most spectacular sites in Tennessee. There’s also an on-site restaurant located within the Lodge at Fall Creek Falls.

Get Crafty in Smithville
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Appalachian Center for Craft

1560 Craft Center Dr, Smithville, TN 37166

Located 25 minutes southeast of Edgar Evins, the lakeside Appalachian Center for Craft hosts artists from near and far in their artists in residence program and studios as part of the TN Tech’s campus of School of Art, Craft, and Design. Its mission is to “promote excellence in American craft by teaching tradition and innovation in technique, concept, and design”. Their robust artisan community has created a hub in Smithville for local art.

While you’re there, browse current exhibitions and browse a selection of locally-crafted artisan goods at the fine art gallery. Check out their events page ahead of your visit, and you may even be able to sign up to attend one of the craft workshops! The center offers several workshops year-round for interested artists and inspiring creative types of all levels.

Photo courtesy of Arthur T. LaBar

Canoe the Caney
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Caney Fork River

Before you head home from your adventure, you must canoe the Caney.

Canoeing or kayaking the clear, cool waters on the Caney Fork River is a relaxing adventure. The Caney is a Class I river, meaning you won’t find any rapids, just a peaceful paddle surrounded by bluffs. It is also a perfect spot for trout fishing since the river is stocked annually with Rainbow and Brown Trout. There are multiple outfitters in the area that offer paddling rentals on the Caney River and various put-in spots for those with personal watercraft. A map of the put-in and take-out spots along the river can be found on the National Rivers Project website

The most traveled area of the river starts below the Center Hill Dam and ends at the Happy Hollow take-out 5.5 miles downstream. Past this portion of the river, the crowds thin and it’s roughly another 6 miles down to the Kirby Road Bridge Pull-Off. Each outfitter has a set drop-off point on the river, so choose accordingly to the route you’d like to take. It’s also best to arrive earlier in the day to avoid crowds, especially on weekends.

About this Guide

This guide was written in partnership with Tennessee State Parks.

There are more than 20 Tennessee State Parks within the Cumberland River Basin, each with their own unique history, features, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of these parks rely on clean water to support the humans and creatures that visit and call them home. The Cumberland River Compact has partnered with TN State Parks to bring you guides that highlight the best features of parks around the basin, along with the communities that surround them. We hope these guides will encourage you to support the vision of clean and abundant water for our Cumberland River Basin by visiting these parks whose vision is to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historic resources of Tennessee.