Tims Ford has become one of the most popular lakes in Tennessee and the Southeast in general. And for good reason. It’s 10,700 acres of deep clear water and beautiful shoreline make it a boaters paradise. Add in four great marinas and its location within a short drive to Huntsville, Chattanooga, and Nashville, and you have yourself the perfect place to call home-
Or is it?
We’ll start with the cons:
If you like shopping malls and lots of stores to choose from, you will have to make about an hour drive. The small towns surrounding the lake just don’t have much for big box retailers. We do however have an Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Hobby Lobby (Laci’s favorite) Old Navy, Office Depot, Marshalls, and Five Below, to name a few. And of course there is a Wal Mart, Home Depot, and Lowes. So we aren’t completely without, but if you are looking for big shopping malls with Macy’s, Bass Pro Shops, and a food court, get ready for a short road trip.
Much like shopping, there aren’t a lot of choices for dining if you are looking for the big chains. Like most small towns, we have all of the fast food options, but you won’t find Outback or Longhorn Steakhouse here. There is a Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, and Red Lobster in nearby Tullahoma however. And of course there are several great locally owned restaurants (see some of our favorites in our previous blog “Places to Eat Near Tims Ford Lake“). So if you just have a craving for that bloomin’ onion at Outback, you will need to drive about an hour.
TVA and Water Levels
The Tennessee Valley Authority controls the water levels through the use of dams on man made lakes in Tennessee. Summer pool (typically April- mid October) is 888ft. Winter pool (mid October – March) usually runs anywhere from 873-875 ft. So the water level drops about 15 ft in the winter. Why?? According to the TVA, it is in preparation for spring rains to control flooding downstream. Honestly, this has never really made sense to me, but I guess the fine folks over at the TVA are smarter than me. Many lakes in Tennessee will experience the same drop in water levels every winter.
For me it doesn’t really matter, as air temperatures during that time keep me from having any desire to be out on the lake anyway.
But good news, if you want to get out there Tims Ford is plenty deep, so you can still safely boat year round if you wish. If you have a dock, more than likely it will be sitting high and dry during this time, although there are some docks on the lake that will have year round water. And just a note for our friends from the North, Tims Ford does not freeze over. We don’t get that cold down here. (Thank goodness!)
Everyone Thinks You Are Rich
You have a lake house? You must be RICH! While this may be true for some, I know that isn’t the case for us, ha! But it is a common assumption for many. Especially contractors, whether it be plumbing, tree trimming, or any other service, it seems like often times they want to get more aggressive with their pricing because they think we have money to burn. Once you find a reliable and honest contractor here, you better hang on to them! Ask your neighbors who they recommend, chances are they know someone. It pays to shop around and do your research!
For us, the pros far outweigh the cons. In fact, I think I could write a book on all the great things about living the lake life. So for times sake, I’ll leave out the amazing sunrise/sunsets, lakeside meals, and priceless memories that you will enjoy, and just cover a few of the pros.
Obviously, the Lake and the Wildlife
There is just nothing like a dip in the lake on a hot summer day or watching a Bald Eagle soar overhead. A moonlight pontoon cruise or a ride to see the fall foliage are always sure to please. And don’t forget to take a boat ride to your favorite marina for lunch, dinner and live music!
One of the first things we learned when we moved here is the typical ice breaker question with your neighbors… “Do you live here full time?” Many people live elsewhere and are what we call “weekenders”. Yet despite that, we have found that the common bond of being lake lovers really unites our neighborhood. Even though some aren’t here full time, most of us know each other and everyone is always friendly and looking out for each other.
Recently my wife Laci decided she wanted an elliptical. So we get the one she wants, and it weighed almost 500 lbs! They loaded it into the back of our pickup truck, which was great, but when we got home we had no idea how we could get it off the truck. As we stood outside pondering our options (none of which sounded safe), one of our neighbors, a weekender, came walking by. The first thing he said was “Do y’all need help?” We gladly said yes, and before the three of us could figure out a plan, another neighbor walked by and jumped in to help. Before you knew it, the elliptical was unloaded with no injuries!
Lake neighbors are the best neighbors. Whether you need a helping hand or just enjoy a smile and a friendly wave, we’ve found a real sense of community here.
Kind of like our neighborhood, we have also found the small town life to be wonderful. Tullahoma, Winchester, Decherd, Estill Springs, and Lynchburg all offer that small town charm and southern hospitality you would expect, and there are plenty of local events throughout the year to help you get connected. And don’t forget- no real traffic to speak of! So if you are wanting to escape the city life, you have found the right place. Just pay attention to those deer crossing signs, we are in the country!
Tims Ford State Park and The Bear Trace
It is such a blessing to have a State Park right here close by. The 1321 acre Tims Ford State Park offers cabins, campgrounds, walking and biking trails, as well as the Bear Trace, a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course. The lake is visible from most holes on the course and comes into play on several of the 18 holes. Giving the course an excellent balance of challenge and play-ability. Also, don’t forget to stop by Lakeview Marina, located inside the park. They have ice cream, pizza, and drinks, as well as kayak and boat rentals. Learn more about the State Park by reading “The Insider’s Guide to Tims Ford State Park“.
So, there you have it! My condensed version of Pros and Cons. For us, there really aren’t any cons. I had to dig deep for them. We love the lake life! And we love helping others find home here.
Are you ready to join us?
Thinking about moving to Tims Ford Lake?
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