Rock Island State Park

Quick Facts

Rock Island State Park

Tennessee

(931) 686-2471

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The scenic beauty of this wooded park is dominated by the Great Falls of the Caney Fork River. This is an imposing limestone gorge, or a gulf, as it is called in southern culture. It provides scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and deep pools for fishing, rock-hopping, and exploring. Located at the confluence of the Collins and Caney Fork Rivers, this 883-acre park has a natural sand beach on Center Hill Reservoir. Historic features of the park include a nineteenth century textile mill and one of Tennessee's early hydroelectric plants.

Center Hill Lake has one of the best fishing spots in the state: the Blue Hole is the spawning ground for the walleye. Visitors also enjoy swimming in the lake and water skiing. The campground invites visitors to spend a while relaxing in this beautiful park. The hiking trails lead adventurous visitors to scenic overlooks, wildlife and wildflowers, and the beautiful limestone gorge.

Map of Rock Island (TN)

Latitude, Longitude: 35.805419, -85.639129

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boating is very popular on Center Hill Lake and on Great Falls Lake. There is a free public launching ramp on Great Falls Lake.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The road through the park allows visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty from the comfort of their own vehicles.

  • Camping

    Rock Island has 60 campsites, each equipped with 30 amp electrical and water hookups, a grill, and a picnic table. Three modern bathhouses (with hot water showers, lavatories, and commodes) are located in the camping area. There is a dump station at the far end of the campground for the convenience of self-contained camping rigs. Campers must register at the park office. Campsites can be reserved, and the maximum stay limit is two weeks. This facility is open year round. Camping reservations can be made up to one year in advance and are recommended.

    The park also features 10 cabins. The three bedroom/two bath cabins are completely equipped for housekeeping. The cabins are open year round.

  • Fishing

    The Blue Hole on Center Hill Lake lies adjacent to the park shore and is the spawning ground for the walleye in Center Hill Lake. It is considered one of the finest fishing places in the state. It is accessible through a boat launching ramp located in the park. Fishing is best in the spring, but visitors enjoy boat riding and skiing well into the fall.

    Fish catches include bass, musklunge, and bluegill. A valid Tennessee fishing license is required.

  • Hiking

    The park has four hiking trails. The most popular trail is the Caney Fork Gorge Trail. A beautiful limestone gorge runs between the Great Falls Dam and the Twin Falls. This is a popular area for rock hopping, swimming, and fishing. The area is populated with great blue herons, wildflowers and waterfalls.

    The Collins River Nature Trail is a three mile loop along the outer edge of the Collin's River peninsula. The trail winds beside the riverbank and gives the hiker a chance to view white-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers, Christmas ferns, and a wide variety of wildflowers.

    The Eagle Trail is 1.5 miles long and runs from the Blue Hole picnic area to the Badger Flatt picnic area down by the park's sandy beach on Center Hill Lake. This trail has an abundant array of wildflowers and songbirds. Flowers include mountain laurel, pink and white trillium, little brown jug, bloodroot, and yellow violet. Visitors can see and hear prothonotary warblers, belted kingfishers, and osprey.

    The short Moonshine Trail runs past the base of an old moonshine still and is teaming with wildlife. Hikers on this trail might get to see Firepink, Jack-in-the Pulpit, deer, and barred owls. This trail begins at the tennis court parking lot and ends next to campsite 39.

  • Historic Sites

    There is an old moonshine still located along the Moonshine Trail. Historic features of the park include a nineteenth century textile mill and one of Tennessee's early hydroelectric plants.

  • Picnicking

    There are four picnicking areas within the park. All are equipped with tables, grills, and drinking water. All have restroom facilities. Two picnic pavilions that can accommodate up to 100 people each and can be reserved for group use. Reservations may be made up to a year in advance.

  • RVing

    Rock Island has 60 campsites, each equipped with 30 amp electrical and water hookups. There is a dump station at the far end of the campground for the convenience of self-contained camping rigs.

  • Tennis

    The park has tennis courts.

  • Water Sports

    The park's natural sand beach is located on the headwaters of the beautiful Center Hill Lake. Adequate parking space and a modern bathhouse are provided. There are no lifeguards on duty. Visitors also enjoy water skiing on the lake.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open year-round, as is the campground. Summer high temperatures average around 89 F. Winter lows average around 28 F.

Directions

Driving

Follow Highway 70S approximately 15 miles south of Sparta toward McMinnville; follow Park signs to State Route 1 and Hwy 136 to the entrance.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(931) 686-2471

Campground reservations

(931) 686-2471

Links