Emily and I can’t stop exercising just because we finished up the Urban Wilderness Trails. Our weekend treks have been sporadic of late (Christmas holidays, trips out of town, and hello SNOW!) but we’ve explored a number of trails in and around Knoxville in the past few weeks.
First we took a trip to the north the walk on the Songbird Trail in Anderson County near Norris Dam State Park. We made the mistake (big mistake) of trusting Siri for directions, and it ended up taking us way longer to drive there than it did to walk the nice, flat, paved trail. We did discover that there are many other trails within the park that we may come back and investigate another time.
There’s more to South Knoxville than the Urban Wilderness, y’all. High Ground Park is a new area to explore, on Cherokee Trail near that awful water tower. There you will find some historic information (because it’s the site of Fort Higley), a trail, and a nice place to “set for a spell.” We ran into one obstacle in that the parking lot was chained off for no apparent reason, but we found a gravel lot nearby and we persevered.
Going back to our car we discovered the existence of another, as yet unfinished, trail system (River Bluff Wildlife Area) that I have been reliably informed leads to some amazing bluff views. As you can see by the picture below, this is under development, but I believe that the eventual plan is that these trails will eventually connect somehow with those of the Urban Wilderness and the ones at Fort Dickerson.
The trails at IC King Park were another happy South Knoxville surprise. When I thought of IC King Park at all, it conjured up thoughts of a somewhat sketchy place where brave souls might go fishing. But it’s been cleaned up now–with even an on-site satellite Sheriff’s Office–and if you don’t mind risking your life on Alcoa Highway to get there, you’ll be rewarded with eight miles of trails. We just scratched the surface so I’ll write more on that another time, so consider this a preview:
Finally, we are making it a goal this year to do more hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains. You local folks realize, I’m sure, that thousands of people travel from all over the country every year to enjoy what we have in our own backyard. And I know growing up we took way too little advantage of that.
So we are going to try to take one Saturday a month to hike in the mountains. I think there are 900 miles of trails all together and some of them are out of our skill level at this time, so it will be many, many years down the road before I am able to blog that we hiked them all! We started with a couple of Quiet Walkways that are close to Gatlinburg.
I’ve often wondered about these little trails and have longed to pull off to explore them, so this was a real treat. It doesn’t take long before you can’t hear the traffic anymore and there is always something beautiful and surprising to see. For example, I’ll be devoting another blog post to the graveyard we discovered (on top of a VERY steep hill) on the first walkway.
We are so lucky, so blessed, to have so much beauty to explore just an hour’s drive away, aren’t we? In, near, and around Knoxville–so many walks and so little time.