News & Events

Redbud Bridge build

Redbud Road Bridge Connects Urban Wilderness

Crews working on the Redbud Bridge Road recently placed the main section over the street to connect Legacy Parks’ new Baker Creek Preserve to the South Loop Trails of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The bridge was funded by grants from REI to both Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, and private donations.

Construction is almost complete at the Baker Creek Preserve – the latest addition to the city’s Urban Wilderness. The 100-acre site contains over six miles of professionally built multi-use trails, including those for beginners to some for expert downhill mountain bikers. The trails were made possible by a $200,000 Tennessee RTP grant to Legacy Parks, and the downhill trail was funded by the Bell Helmets contest won by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club.

The trails in the preserve will feature names that pay homage to the terrain and local history.  Some of the monikers include the Devil’s Racetrack, Floyd Fox, The Barn Burner Downhill, Pappy’s Way, and the Cruze Valley Run.

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Hikes and Blooms – History and Wildflowers

SpringWildflowers1Legacy Parks’ new event with the Dogwood Arts Festival –  Hikes & Blooms – highlights interesting historical sites and the abundant flora along the two three mile hikes in beautiful park settings.

Joan Markel’s interpretive hike at Fort Dickerson and TrekSouth’s William Hastie Natural Area hike will feature some of the history and the variety of wildflowers and native fauna in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.  Join us for one, or both of these beautiful hikes.

April 23 – 10 a.m.  Hikes & Blooms Fort Dickerson

Explore the Civil War site built by the Federal army along a forested ridge south of the Tennessee River. Authentic replica cannons, an earthen fort, and an overlook at the beautiful quarry lake highlight this hike. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Meet at the Augusta Street entrance.

April 24 – 10 a.m.  Hikes & Blooms William Hastie Natural Area

Wildflowers blanket the ground along these great trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness just minutes from downtown. The beautiful trails weave through the lush forest and by a pond where you might just glimpse a turtle or colorful birds. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Margaret Road.

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Third Annual Tour de Knox Benefits Legacy Parks

The University of Tennessee Service Learning Class is sponsoring the third annual Tour de Knox Bike Rally to educate students and the community about the safe and convenient bike routes on campus and through the downtown area. Proceeds from the event will benefit Legacy Parks.

Tour de Knox will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 at the corner of Phillip Fulmer Way and Peyton Manning Pass at UT. Riders of all ages and skill levels will have fun on the designated routes with stops along the way to collect raffle tickets. The more tickets they get, the better their chances of winning a prize at the end of the event.

“This is a fun family event that will promote biking to and on campus, and instill a sense of confidence in the riders” said Dr. Ernie Cadotte, the John W. Fisher Professor of Learning Innovation at the University of Tennessee who teaches the students involved in managing the event.

For more information or to register for the Tour de Knox, please visit or

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Get Out cover for front

Get Out and Play! We’ve Made it Easy!

Get Out coverIf you want to get out and get some exercise but are not sure where to start, we can help! Legacy Parks is partnering with the Knoxville Mercury to provide a comprehensive guide to all locations for outdoor activity in the East Tennessee region. The guide was distributed in the April 14 edition of the Mercury and will also be available in health care facilities, at outreach events, schools, and Legacy Parks’ office at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center.

“The Get Out and Play! Guide is a complete directory of all parks, trails, and greenways in Knox County, and includes major regional parks and trails too,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks Foundation. “The is the first publication of its kind – organized geographically with locations, maps, and descriptions of park amenities. It is a great resource to help people find places to play to increase their physical activity!”

Abundant research links increased physical activity to improved health. Physical activity can reduce the risk of obesity, which is a leading cause of diabetes and heart disease. Knox County Health Department’s recent Community Health Assessment cited the lack of physical activity as a priority health issue – nearly 60 percent of residents reported a low activity level and 25 percent reported no weekly activity at all. And the Community Health Council selected “access to parks and greenways” as one of their four issues in their health improvement plan.

“Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Knox County but even a small increase in physical activity can have a positive effect. Public education on both the need and resources for exercise must occur, and this guide is a great beginning,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, Director of the Knox County Health Department.

An equal volume of research indicates that access to outdoor recreation venues increases physical activity. The Tennessee Statewide Activity Plan strategy encourages a plan to inform, educate, an empower residents to access opportunities for physical activity; and to develop a ‘one-stop’ resource for all public places and spaces for movement available at no cost to all Tennesseans and visitors.

“East Tennessee has beautiful and unique natural resources,” said Rebecca Tolene, Vice President for TVA Natural Resources. “As part of our mission of service to the Valley, TVA manages a number of trails, parks and water access points that connect the public with their lands and waters. Public land is for everyone; there is something for everyone and every skill level to enjoy.”

Charlie Vogel, Publisher of the Knoxville Mercury says this guide provides all the information needed to access recreation locations. “Knox County has over 6,000 acres of parkland and almost 160 miles of trails and greenways. There is a place in every neighborhood for free outdoor activity, and we are happy the Mercury is able to help publicize these resources.”

As the East Tennessee region becomes better known as a recreation destination, these natural assets become more important to the quality of life and the economic health of the community. “We are so excited to promote and be part of the Get Out and Play! Guide. We want to educate everyone about all that there is to do in Blount County and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy this incredible area. We want to be your ‘outdoor amusement park’ in East Tennessee,” said Kim Mitchell, Director of Tourism for the Blount Partnership.

The guide separates Knoxville and Knox County into North, South, East, and West sections, lists regional community and state parks, contact information, and features resources for outdoor activity organizations, and equipment.

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Baker Creek Preserve Announced

The 100-acre property donated to Legacy Parks Foundation by the Wood family in 2013 is quickly transforming into a destination for outdoor adventures. The property at 1516 Taylor Road in south Knoxville has now been named “Baker Creek Preserve” and will open this spring as a major addition to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.

“We want to create a unique and special place with the property,” explained Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans. “The term “preserve” designates an area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna, or other special interests. This property has a beautiful little creek, giant sycamore trees and other native plants, wildlife, and incredible views – it truly is a preserve in that we hope to enhance and create access to all of the natural assets.”

Work began this week on construction of the competition-style downhill mountain bike trail funded by the $100,000 Bell Helmets grant awarded to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC) after a nationwide competition. The downhill trail adds to the nearly seven miles of additional trail funded by a $200,000 grant from TDEC to Legacy Parks.

The new trails provide hiking and biking opportunities for beginners to extreme adventure mountain bikers and include five multi-use, two-way trails, and three designated mountain bike downhill trails for more experienced riders.

See the WBIR story

“Knoxville has a reputation for excellent, purposely built trails that can accommodate hikers and bikers of all levels. We have had some of the best trail builders in the county help design and build these newest trails,” said Brian Hann chair of the Legacy Parks Trails and Greenways Task Force and past president of AMBC. “Excellent trail design and construction leads to easier trail maintenance and a great experience for the trail user.”

In addition to the trails, a grant from the Siddiqi Foundation allows Legacy Parks to begin to incorporate areas for play at Baker Creek Preserve. Earthadelic, a local landscaping company, is donating their time and expertise to enhance the entrance to the property and create a play area utilizing materials found on the property and other natural elements. Adjacent to the play area will be a kids-only bike loop to introduce the young to mountain biking. This play area takes advantage of a remnant piece of TDOT land.

“TDOT has been great to work with on this project,” said Carol Evans. “They understand the importance ofoutdoor recreation in Knoxville and are using this greenspace to benefit our community.”

A partnership with the Knoxville Garden Club will open up Baker Creek to better viewing and access. Volunteers participating in the statewide “Weed Wrangle” last weekend cleared the invasive species that disrupt the ecological balance and prepared the site for a new trail to parallel Baker Creek.

Baker Creek Preserve will connect into the existing 42 miles of trail in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness by way of a pedestrian bridge across Redbud Road. The bridge is funded by grants from REI to both Legacy Parks and the ABMC, and private donations.

This week, Baker Creek Preserve will be connected to South Doyle Middle School near the preserve entrance through a project of the Professional TrailBuilders Association during their national conference in Knoxville. The association provides a legacy trail project in every community in which their conference is held and Knoxville’s trail will connect the middle school into the Urban Wilderness and adjacent neighborhoods. The trail, with a small bridge over Baker Creek, will create a recreational amenity and a safe walkway to the school.

“It’s great to see increasing momentum for the Urban Wilderness and our reputation as an outdoor tourism city,” said City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “We’re grateful to Legacy Parks and everyone involved fortheir part in enhancing the Urban Wilderness with projects like the Baker Creek Preserve.”

Trail names at Baker Creek Preserve reflect the terrain and history of the property. Devil’s Racetrack and Floyd Fox pay homage to the days of moonshine in south Knoxville. The Barn Burner Downhill trail terminates at the location of the old barn on the property. Sycamore Loop winds through some of the largest native trees in the area. Cruze Valley Run descends into the valley located in the heart of the property at a wide-open meadow between the two ridges, and Pappy’s Way, the trail up to Pappy’s Point, is in thanks to the property donor.

This area of south Knoxville is already known for its interest in protecting its natural resources. In November of 2013, the adjacent South Woodlawn Neighborhood Association received certification from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as the first and only Community Wildlife Habitat in the state of Tennessee. The NWF program gives national recognition to neighborhoods and communities that strive to protect water resources and preserve green landscapes.

The Baker Creek Trails are set to open later this spring and additional amenities – including bike park features and adventure play structures – are planned.

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Legacy Parks Sponsors Dogwood Events

OKF-BikesBloom-4 copyPedal your way along colorful Dogwood trails or hike through wildflowers beneath the flowering trees on two events hosted by Legacy Parks for the 2016 Dogwood Arts Festival.

Bikes & Blooms, a favorite family activity the last few years, follows Dogwood Trails through scenic neighborhoods and on local greenways. The bike rides, one touring north Knoxville and one south to Ijams Nature center, are generally about eight miles long and are led by experienced guides. Riders must wear helmets and be skilled for on-road riding. Prior to each ride, TN Valley Bikes will have a bike check at 9:30 a.m.

New for 2016 is Hikes & Blooms – featuring interesting historical sites and highlighting features and flora along the three mile hikes in beautiful park settings.

Schedule of Events

(No advance registration needed for any of these events.)

April 9 – 10 a.m.  Bikes & Blooms Southbound

Leaving from TN Valley Bikes in the Old City you will ride through downtown then see the beauty of South Knoxville’s Dogwood Trails from the seat of your bicycle. Riders will enjoy views of the Tennessee River, the colorful gardens along Island Home Boulevard, and the forested greenway path to Ijams Nature Center before returning to downtown.

April 10 – 10 a.m.  Bikes & Blooms Northbound

You will pass vibrant displays of dogwood trees and gardens as you depart from TN Valley Bikes in the Old City and head through 4th and Gill, Old North, and other historic neighborhoods in North Knoxville. After a stop for a refreshing drink at Three Rivers Market you will return to downtown.

April 23 – 10 a.m.  Hikes & Blooms Fort Dickerson

Explore the Civil War site built by the Federal army along a forested ridge south of the Tennessee River. Authentic replica cannons, an earthen fort, and an overlook at the beautiful quarry lake highlight this hike. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Meet at the Augusta Street entrance.

April 24 – 10 a.m.  Hikes & Blooms William Hastie Natural Area

Wildflowers blanket the ground along these great trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness just minutes from downtown. The beautiful trails weave through the lush forest and by a pond where you might just glimpse a turtle or colorful birds. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Meet in the parking lot at the end of Margaret Road.


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Join the Knoxville Weed Wrangle March 5

weed wrangle1We need your help save our beautiful native landscapes!

The first Knoxville Weed Wrangle is Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. until noon at several locations around the city. Legacy Parks’ property in south Knoxville at 1516 Taylor Road is one location where volunteers will help eradicate invasive species that are strangling our native plants and trees.

Inspired by national and international efforts now underway, Weed Wrangle Knoxville and others across the state represent a fresh new push to stem the tide of biological pollution in our area. The goal is two-fold: restoration and preservation. Organizers seek to raise awareness of the “green scourge” before more of our native plants lose the fight for the light and nutrients they require to survive. The Knoxville Garden Club, a member of The Garden Club of America, and other local groups are working hard to recruit a corps of organized resistance to this blight on our environment. Legacy Parks Foundation, Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Lakeshore Park, the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council and the City of Knoxville are just a few of the partners now backing Weed Wrangle Knoxville.

Volunteers may sign up at



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Sustainable Trails Conference Comes to Knoxville

An important opportunity for trail professionals to build skills, discover the best tools and techniques available in the industry, and network is the Professional TrailBuilders Association Sustainable Trails Conference to be held in Knoxville March 5-11, 2016.

On choosing Knoxville as the location for the annual conference, Michael Passo, Executive Director of the Professional TrailBuilders Association (PTBA), said, “This amazing city is quickly becoming a trail mecca for hikers and mountain bikers alike. The amazing public/private partnership that helped create the Urban Wilderness is unlike any we have found in other great trail cities.”
The conference includes experiential education opportunities, workshops, a trade show, and sessions on designing, building, and maintaining trails in varied environments around the country. Past participants have included representatives from federal, state, and local agencies, conservation corps crews, landscape architects, park managers, and trail designers and consultants.

“One of Legacy Parks’ goals this year is to focus on trails – both expanding those in the Urban Wilderness, and building new trails in other areas of the county,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks Foundation. “We know the importance of professionally built trails, not only for sustainability, but also for the safety and enjoyment of the users. All of our new trails on the Wood property have been professionally designed and built,” she said.

PTBA is also announcing a new partnership plan – their “Legacy Trail” program will leave a segment of sustainably and professionally built trail in the city hosting the Sustainable Trails Conference. Knoxville’s Legacy Trail will connect South Doyle Middle School to an adjacent neighborhood and the Urban Wilderness.

Conference registration may be made on the PTBA website

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Seven Islands Award

Seven Islands Wins State Award of Excellence

Seven Islands State Birding Park won the 2015 “Excellence in Resource Management” award from Tennessee State Parks.

Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated excellence in effective and abundant resource management activities within their park. Resource management activities can be both natural and cultural and can include but are not limited to: invasive species management, historic preservation, rare species inventory, habitat enhancement or protection, pest management, oral history collection, and more.

Seven Islands State Birding Park places an extraordinary focus on habitat management because “no habitat, no birds!” Every year park staff “touches” around 3/4 of the 420 acres they manage. They are in a constant state of habitat restoration and improvement. In 2015, the park burned over 130 acres in order to set back succession, and suppress woody species in our native warm season grasslands. They have taken action to control and remove invasive species on over 45 acres. This year they also completed a grant that involved the planting of 130 acres of native pollinator friendly species into the native warm season grasses. They planted and maintained 5,000 native trees and shrubs in order to restore and to create new hedgerow.

Bird banding was made available to the public for the first time last year. A record 135  birds were banded in one session. The Sora, Common Raven, Dickcissel, and Clay Colored Sparrow were all new and exciting additions to the Seven Islands State Birding Park bird list in 2015.

The park has laid the groundwork for expanding the wetland area to over five acres, planting a new monarch butterfly meadow, and designing and installing three new hummingbird attracting native plant gardens.

A new partnership with the Tennessee chapter of the Bluebird Society has resulted in the donation and installation of 50 new songbird nesting boxes. Volunteers will monitor and maintain these boxes every spring and summer. Student members of the UT Wildlife and Fisheries Society have been mapping and installing 15 new wood duck boxes that were built and donated by the local chapter of the Woodsman of America. These boxes will be monitored and maintained by the students.

A new partnership with the American Chestnut Society has resulted in the establishment of an American Chestnut Seed Orchard at Seven Island State Birding Park. Planting will continue through the next few years and thousands of blight resistant chestnut seedlings will be planted. These seedlings will be culled until only the strongest and most resistant trees remain which will be used as parent plants whose seeds will be harvested to establish new orchards with the goal of restoring the American Chestnut to the North American forest ecosystem.

Congratulations to park manager Justine Cucchiara and her staff for this well-deserved award!

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Knoxville Weed Wrangle Needs You

Not all green is good! Knoxville’s first Weed Wrangle is set for March 5, 2016 at 9 a.m. in four different locations to help eradicate non-native plants. Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive plants that are threatening our landscapes and upsetting the ecological balance.

More and more, our native trees, plants, and wildlife are losing the fight against invasive plants introduced decades ago for agricultural or landscaping purposes. If left unchecked, future generations might never glimpse the forest floor as alien undergrowth shrouds and chokes trees large and small. Although some invasives are quite beautiful, feature flowers and pleasing scents, they are quite lethal to the outdoor world where we run, hike, bike, and play.

Please consider participating in Knoxville’s Weed Wrangle, sponsored by the Knoxville Garden Club, Invasive Plant Control, Inc., and Legacy Parks Foundation. Volunteers are needed in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Ijams Nature Center, and Lakeshore Park.

To volunteer, log on to and click on the photo of Knoxville.


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