Article and Photos by Kristi Parsons
Evins Mill is a tucked away oasis that sits beneath a forest of majestic Eastern Hemlocks in Smithville, TN. The privately owned resort is a place of tranquility, fine dining, history, and an abundance of natural features. Once a retreat for political figures from Nashville and a gathering place for the family and friends of the former property owners, Evins Mill is now a vacation destination that welcomes a variety of guests.
The heart of this Tennessee gem is one of the state’s most stunning examples of nature’s artistry, Carmac Falls. The base of the 90-foot waterfall is surrounded by giant boulders that are covered in moss, ferns, small cascades, and wildflowers during spring and summer. The state’s 10th highest waterfall is often the feature that pulls guests to the woodland resort. However, it is the spirit of place, passion of the Cochran family, and the hospitality of the Evins Mill staff that captures the hearts of guests and inspires them to return time after time.
Upon your arrival to the luxurious but rustic resort, you’ll first notice the peaceful setting, a sparkling pond, the historical mill, and a granary that looks as if it was pulled from the pages of Southern Living Magazine. The land straddles Tennessee’s Highland Rim and the Upper Cumberland Plateau and is a certified Tennessee State Natural Area. Blend it all together and you get a place where the charm of yesteryear, the beauty of nature, and modern day amenities meet to create the perfect balance for a memorable getaway.
I must warn you that you will be tempted to disappear into the hammock bower even before you have even checked in at Evins Mill. As you’re driving into the parking area, you’ll see the numerous hammocks hanging along the hillside. The water dropping from the dam of the nearby mill creates a white noise that whispers to you with a promise of a relaxing nap after a long drive or a stressful week. The gentle breeze that is present even on the hot and humid Tennessee days is simply icing on the cake of an already perfect setting. Mix in a book from the library or your sweetheart beside you and you may decide that you’re fine with the hammocks and don’t even need the creekside lodging options. I mentioned the temptation to Evins Mill owner William Cochran during a visit once and he was quick to share with me that though there is plenty to do in the area, most guests never leave property until their departure day. I can say from my numerous trips to the resort that it is certainly true and it speaks volumes to the way the land and the spirit of Evins Mill welcomes every guest to their home away from home.
Once you are checked in, you’ll find that the opportunities for both moments of relaxing and adventures are limitless. Hiking, fishing, lawn games, an on-site library, wildlife watching, swimming beneath Carmac Falls, billiards, ping pong, darts, and other activities are sure to keep you entertained.
There’s no need to research local restaurants because meals are included in your stay, and the fine dining that guests are treated to at Evins Mill is one of the highest rated culinary experiences in the area. The chef and staff have created a wonderful menu that is a blend of world cuisine with southern soul food. A full-service bar is available and includes beer, vodka, wine, and moonshine from local companies. The resort also partners with Tennessee-based food purveyors as often as possible when choosing ingredients for all of the dishes and dining options.
Guests that decide to venture off of the property will find the following opportunities: Boating on Center Hill Lake, taking in live music at the Burlap Room or The Caverns, tours of wineries and distilleries, visiting the Appalachian Center for Craft, a trip to Harmony Lane Farm & Creamery, a trip to multiple state parks, browsing local shops, or exploring Nashville.
Have I convinced you to visit yet? Evins Mill is located two hours west of Knoxville and is perfect for a day trip, a weekend getaway, or a full week of escaping everyday life. Have a special event coming up? The property is also a popular destination for corporate retreats and weddings or receptions. Are you looking for a picturesque proposal spot? The staff can help you set up a storybook scene with their engagement package. The possibilities are endless! And, I can personally promise you that regardless of how you choose to experience Evins Mill, you will truly enjoy your visit.
Want to do a trial run and check everything out before staying overnight? Take advantage of the day trip package! To be a day guest, reservations are needed in advance, and a wonderful sack lunch is provided. The day-tripper package includes access to all activities on the property, including access to Carmac Falls. Day trip reservations can be made by calling Evins Mill at 615-269-3740 – and be sure to tell them Kristi sent you!
Kristi Parsons is a local photographer and writer with a love for the mountains, art, music, travel, and all things local. @Kristi_Parsons