News & Events


New Balter Beerworks Partners with Legacy Parks

rsz_balter_main_logoBalter Beerworks, the new brewery and restaurant opening at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Broadway in the former BP station, recently announced a partnership with Legacy Parks Foundation, and will donate proceeds from their grand opening week to Legacy Parks. In addition, each month a different beer will be designated the Legacy Beer of the Month, and a percentage of sales will also support our work.

“Becoming a part of the Downtown Knoxville community is important to us, and we’re fortunate to have formed a mutually-beneficial relationship with Legacy Parks Foundation,” said Blaine Wedekind, founder of Balter Beerworks. “We share in their mission of leaving East Tennessee better than we found it, and hope to continue our friendship for many years to come.”

The Balter Beerworks location puts them in position to be a rally point for group activities like bike rides or runs. As a gathering spot, Legacy Parks and other outdoor organizations can take advantage of the atmosphere and location of Balter Beerworks to help increase the recreational opportunities in the West Jackson Avenue corridor.

Balter Beerworks is a local concept created by Knoxvillians and beer enthusiasts Blaine Wedekind and brewer Will Rutemeyer. The Balter Beerworks experience is designed to be different from the typical “brewpub” and will include a comfortable, upscale atmosphere complete with front porch dining, a breezeway and an outdoor beer garden. Balter will provide fresh, locally sourced food, handcrafted beer made on-site, as well as unique cocktails and a quality wine selection. The restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in January 2016.


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SI Allen boat

New Mutton Hollow Landing Increases River Access

SI Ribbon CuttingKnox County’s Seven Islands State Birding Park now has a new and improved public boat launch on the south side of the French Broad River thanks to a unique partnership between Legacy Parks Foundation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee State Parks, TVA, and Knox County.

The ribbon cutting at Mutton Hollow Landing on November 18 was part of an initiative to increase public access to rivers and promote the state’s “blueways” or river trails. Tennessee now boasts 20 blueways connecting people, parks, and communities by waterway.

“Water trails, like greenways, give people an opportunity to get out an enjoy nature,” said Jane Polansky, Tennessee State Scenic Rivers Administrator. “Since 2009 we’ve been able to connect seven state parks to blueways,” she added.

The refurbished road, parking area, and boat launch at Mutton Hollow is located on 40 acres of Seven Islands State Birding Park on the southern side of the French Broad River. TVA provided the funding for the environmental review and materials and Knox County employees provided the labor.

“This project is an example of successful partnerships across multiple organizations with a singular goal – to improve access to our beautiful natural resources,” said

Rebecca Tolene, Vice President of Natural Resources for TVA. “And our state park system, like TVA land along the river system, provides the public with opportunities to experience nature first hand,” she added.

SI Allen boatCreating more access to Knoxville’s three rivers is a Legacy Parks Foundation priority for 2016. Carol Evans, Executive Director, said they are currently working with TVA and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to develop additional launch locations along the Holston and Tennessee rivers.

Allen Gillespie, owner of 3 Rivers Angler, was excited to be the first to use the launch to get out on the river as soon as officials cut the ribbon.


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Win an REI Adventures Pacific Crest Trail Adventure Trip!

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.18.34 PMLegacy Parks is auctioning a trip of a lifetime on the Pacific Crest Trail in northern California – part of the same trail Cheryl Strayed wrote about in her memoir Wild. The online auction will support Legacy Parks’ work in our community.

For the next two weeks, November 4 through November 18,  you can bid to win the three-day REI Adventures backpacking trip in the Mount Shasta region of northern California. The winning bid will be announced on November 19.


The Pacific Crest Trail trip will rejuvenate your spirit and ignite inspiration on this beautiful backpacking expedition with professional instruction and guiding. The winning bidder will enjoy three days of backpacking while honing their skills with help from expert local guides, relaxing, swimming, and exploring the lakeshore camp sites, and summiting the tallest of the Klamath Mountains.

Plus, you’ll receive a signed copy of Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her time on the Pacific Crest Trail, to get you ready to hike.

And best of all, every penny spent for the trip benefits Legacy Parks Foundation and our work to build amazing trails and preserve incredible views in our region.

Treat yourself to a trip of a lifetime or give a gift to someone special!

Bid online now at!

(Airfare not included. By bidding you agree to your name being used in the announcement by Legacy Parks Foundation and/or REI.)


REI Adventures has offered adventure travel trips for more than 25 years. Our goal is to get people outside!Whether you dream of cycling the winding roads of Zion National Park, exploring the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands, trekking through the Himalayas, or joining us for a close-to-home weekend getaway, we’re here to help you live that dream.

With more than 150 different trips on every continent, you’re sure to land on the trip of a lifetime, every time you travel with us.




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Knoxville Wins Top Towns Contest

BRONovThe wait is over! Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine has named Knoxville their 2015 Top (Big) Town in their annual online contest. The race was intense this summer as Knoxville competed against Durham, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Charleston, West Virginia. The magazine hit newstands October 30 with the announcement. In addition to Knoxville, Roanoke (VA) was named Top Mid-Sized Town and Franklin (NC) was named Top Small Town.

The writer for Blue Ridge Outdoors stated, “…perhaps even more unique than the city’s close proximity to recreational resources is the vibe of present-day Knoxville, a feeling of progression and unity that can most aptly be described with one word: collaboration.”

Our Urban Wilderness had a big part in making this happen. Whether you want to hike, bike, paddle, or just enjoy nature, as the article says, “you might be surprised by what this Southern metropolis has to offer in the way of outdoor adventure.”


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Top Knox Header

Urban Wilderness Wins Mercury Top Knox Award

Top Knox HeaderReaders of the Knoxville Mercury chose our Urban Wilderness as the “Top New Thing in Knoxville” in the Top Knox 2015 poll. According to the Mercury, the award “honors the institutions that truly make Knoxville unique.” The Urban Wilderness was also a runner up in other categories, including Top Bike or Walking Trails and Top Secret About Knoxville.

In the Mercury’s description of the Urban Wilderness, the paper notes this new thing really isn’t. “It’s perhaps ironic that the urban wilderness wins in the “new thing” category, because it’s been here all along, although often out of sight or inaccessible in private hands. Thanks to efforts by nonprofit Legacy Parks, the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, the city and the county, these islands of green have been connected by trails, including 42-miles of paths along the South Loop, that feature everything from river views to old quarries and hilly forests.

In addition to the Urban Wilderness recognition, Legacy Parks was runner up in the Top Nonprofit Community Group! Thanks to all the readers of the Mercury for supporting Legacy Parks.



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Path thru the trees

Legacy Parks Prepares to Give River Bluff to City

Path thru the treesLegacy Parks will soon convey the 70-acre River Bluff property on the southern ridge overlooking the Tennessee River with an excellent view of downtown to the City of Knoxville for a new public park. Legacy Parks Foundation acquired the land in 2009 after raising $1.5 million to protect the ridge from development.

The new park, on the site of the Battle of Armstrong’s Hill during the Civil War, will become part of the planned Battlefield Loop of the Urban Wilderness that includes Fort Higley, Fort Dickerson, and Fort Stanley.

“The views from the ridge are really amazing,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks. “To the west you can see as far as Sequoyah Hills, and to the east, the downtown skyline and even House Mountain in the distance.”

The land will be given to the city by the end of this year. Plans for more trails, connections to the other parks and eventually to the south waterfront development are in the future.

Please note: The property is not yet open to the public.


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Open Streets Event Set for Sunday, October 25

Open-Streets_color-logoCome Play in the Street is the tagline for Knoxville’s first Open Streets event taking place on Sunday, October 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. Central Street between the Old City and Happy Holler will be filled with people of all ages as the streets are turned into playgrounds. Biking, walking, dancing, soccer, socializing and other family fun activities are encouraged – right in the middle of the street!

Businesses will be open along the one-mile route on Central Street and many different organizations will offer information demonstrations, classes, and activities. While you’re there, check out the Urban Wilderness Flat or Panini at Central Flats and Taps. A dollar from each one supports Legacy Parks!

The Open Streets movement is a way to bring the streets back to the people and let them enjoy the open spaces that are usually limited to motorized transportation. Several other U.S. cities and many other countries currently host ciclovia and open streets events. Knoxville’s event is hosted by Bike/Walk Knoxville, with support from the City of Knoxville and Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

For more information, visit openstreetsknoxville.

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mt. bike race

Urban Wilderness Hosts Knoxville’s First Mountain Bike Race

mt. bike raceThe National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) held a Tennessee High School Cycling League mountain bike race in Knoxville for the first time on October 11 in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. This was the third event in the state’s four-race fall series for both high school and middle school students.

Working with Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, representatives from the Tennessee League said the Knoxville race highlighted Legacy Parks’ new multi-use trails that are ideally located in an urban area. The trails were made possible by a State of Tennessee Recreational Trails Program grant and built on Legacy Parks’ property. The trails were opened for this special event, but are not yet open to the public.

Over 150 riders from schools across the state competed in the event. Teams from Memphis, Collierville, Nashville, Chattanooga and many other communities, including one from Kentucky, came to race.

For more information on racing, starting a team, or volunteering, visit the League’s website at




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G&O Rail-with-Trail

Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans recently announced a new three-mile multi-use trail to be built along the G&O Railway in South Knoxville from Chapman Highway to Mead’s Quarry and the South Loop Trails of the Urban Wilderness.

“Just like New York’s High Line and Atlanta’s BeltLine, this trail can be just as iconic for Knoxville,” she said.

Working with Pete and Linda Claussen of Gulf & Ohio Railways, the new trail will run adjacent to the working tracks – a ‘Rail with Trail’ as opposed to a ‘Rail to Trail’ – which turns abandoned railways to trails. The G&O trail will provide both a commuter and a recreational route and is another key connection in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.

In addition to the recreation benefits, the new trail should revitalize some areas that have been vacant and underdeveloped. “What we’re going to see is neighborhoods connected, businesses connected, businesses that incubate along the rail line because people will love to sit on a patio and bike from spot to spot,” Evans said.

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Legacy Luncheon Draws 1,000 to Hear ‘Wild’ Author

The 2015 Legacy Luncheon for the Parks’ speaker, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, the memoir of her 1,100 mile solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, shared how nature saved her and she now thanks the people who had the foresight to save nature.

Strayed spoke to a record-breaking audience of 1,000 at the annual fundraising luncheon held at the spectacular UT Holston River Farm, with amazing views of both the head of the Tennessee River and downtown Knoxville. The luncheon marks the 10th year of Legacy Parks’ work to save our green and open spaces and create recreational opportunities.

Also at the luncheon, Carol Evans announced that Gulf and Ohio Railways will donate land for the first Rails with Trails route from Chapman Highway to Mead’s Quarry at Ijams Nature Center. This is the first such trail in our area, and is a much needed connection from the western edge of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. She also announced that Legacy Parks would soon donate the 70-acre River Bluff property to the City of Knoxville as a public park, and that Legacy Parks is expanding into Oak Ridge by facilitating new trails on DOE reindustrialized land. These news trails will add weight to our national reputation as a mountain bike destination – which adds a significant economic impact to our community.

Legacy Parks continues to work to preserve our natural resources and create places where we can, as Strayed suggested, “put yourself in the way of beauty.” She said saving these places “brought me back to myself. . . and that is the gift of these green spaces and the wild places . . . It’s the gift you give your community, and it’s also, I think, the gift you give the world. Because when we have these places, we are better people.”

Thanks to our sponsors, table hosts, and all who came to support Legacy Parks.

luncheon sponsors

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