News & Events

Robinella concert in Knoxville supports Legacy Parks

A Night for Legacy Parks!

Robinella concert in Knoxville supports Legacy Parks

Legacy Parks is excited to announce the first ever Night for Legacy Parks! on Thursday, Aug. 10 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Standard in downtown Knoxville! The evening will feature a concert by Robinella with an opening act by Night Colors. Blackhorse Brewery will also kick off its seasonal limited-release Local Motion IPA, and proceeds go back to support Legacy Parks’ work to conserve our natural resources, create public places, and connect communities.

The $50 ticket to the event includes admission, food and entry into the raffle for great prizes, including a kayak.

Learn more and buy tickets now!

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TWRA and Legacy Parks host Sunflower Festival

Sunflower Festival at Forks of the River WMA

TWRA and Legacy Parks are joining together for the second sunflower festival at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area in Knoxville this Saturday, July 8 at 9 a.m.

TWRA and Legacy Parks host Sunflower Festival

Recognizing the public’s great interest in the sunflower fields a few years ago, WMA Manager Bill Smith decided it would benefit TWRA and the public to have an event. “The sunflowers draw thousands of people to the area every year and we want them to understand their benefits to wildlife, to hunters, and help people enjoy their aesthetic value as well,” says Smith.

The WMA has about 70 acres planted in sunflowers this year and while their showy blooms are pleasing to the eye, they are also highly beneficial to pollinators and the seeds they produce provide an abundance of food for several species of birds and other wildlife. Smith also wants to remind the public that the large sunflower fields are only present every other year as crop rotation is important to maintain soil fertility and control pests. The large sunflower fields won’t be planted again until 2019.

The free event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a welcoming, followed by a guided hike courtesy of Legacy Parks. TWRA will also deliver an interpretive talk at 10:30 a.m. followed by another guided hike. The festival will also consist of a wildlife informational trailer, a booth featuring wildlife identification, as well as kid’s activities.

The Legacy Parks Foundation has been in existence since 2007 and has raised over $3 million to preserve over 1,000 acres of land.

Directions to the Forks of the River WMA:

From I-40, take James White Pkwy exit (388A) and stay to the left to continue on James White Parkway. Cross over the TN River and take the Sevier Ave./Hillwood Dr. Exit. Turn Left onto Sevier Ave. (turns into Hillwood Dr.). Turn right onto Island Home Ave. (at bottom of hill). Take the first left onto McClure Ln. just passed Ijams Nature Center. Follow signs to the WMA. A TWRA gravel parking lot is to the right at the end of McClure Lane.

For more information, contact Bill Smith at 865-856-9711.

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Legacy Parks creating river access at McBee Ferry

Creating Access to the Holston River

Legacy Parks is raising funds to create greater access to the Holston River close to the Knox County line. Once purchased, the property will become a new Knox County Park, ideal for fishing, boat access and picnicking. The property is located off the Andrew Johnson Highway on Old Strawberry Plains Pike, and offers a stunning view of the unique McBee Bridge.
The acquisition of this property furthers Legacy Parks  goal of creating access points at roughly seven-mile intervals on the Holston and French Broad rivers make recreational use to these rivers more feasible and enjoyable for Knoxville residents and visitors.
History lovers and will find that this area is significant because it was the site of the McBee Ferry that transported people across the river before the bridge was built in the 1930s. Remains from the operation can still be found along the shoreline. Also nearby along the river, the Civil War Battle of Strawberry Plains took place.
Legacy Parks currently has the property under contract with the owner, and hopes to raise $75,000 to purchase the acreage by October 2017. Help Legacy Parks create more river access by becoming a Friend of Legacy Parks!


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Get Out & Play Guides for the Schools!

Legacy Parks Foundation and the Knoxville Mercury recently updated and provided more than 40,000 free copies of the Get Out & Play! guide to all students in Knox, Blount, Maryville, Loudon, and Oak Ridge schools. This resource is the ultimate guide to outdoor recreation in the Knoxville region, and will help students and their families discover all the great outdoor amenities our area has to offer – and become healthier and happier in the process!

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. Building on last year’s guide, which was the is the first publication of its kind – the updated guide is organized geographically by location with maps and descriptions of park amenities. It is a great resource to help people find places to play to increase their physical activity.

You can find this great information on our 248 parks, trails, and greenways in the online version, or pick up your own copy at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center or one of the sponsoring businesses’ locations.

A special thanks goes to Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission for providing award-winning maps throughout the guide.

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REI Awards Legacy Parks Grant for Urban Wilderness Support Stataions

For the fourth year in a row, REI is showing its support for Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness through a $10,000 grant to Legacy Parks Foundation and a $6,000 grant to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. The two organizations will combine the grants to fund water fountains and a bike tune-up station within Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The addition of these support stations will make hiking, mountain biking, and trail running more accessible for residents and visitors to the more than 50 miles of trail within the Urban Wilderness.

“We are thrilled that REI continues to partner with us in support of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness,” said Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans. “Their lasting partnership allows us to continue expanding and connecting this beautiful forested area, providing a great place for our community to get out and play!”

Working together with community groups, REI hopes to build greater awareness of efforts to care for and increase access to the outdoor recreation places where its members and customers play. REI began contributing to the trails of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness in 2014, and has given significant support since, including funding for a bridge, a kid’s trail, and a junior pump track skills feature.

“REI believes that a life outdoors is a life well-lived,” said REI Outdoor Programs and Outreach Coordinator Nolan Wildfire. “We stand by this philosophy by supporting nonprofits that care for the outdoor places our customers love. We’re excited to see Legacy Parks and AMBC continue to enhance Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.”

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, an initiative of Legacy Parks to create a unique, urban playground just three miles from downtown Knoxville currently has two major destinations: The South Loop Trail System and Baker Creek Preserve. The vision for the Urban Wilderness is to fully connect the recreational, historic, and cultural assets from Alcoa Highway on the west to the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area on the east, and south to I.C.King Park.

“Adding Support Stations throughout the Urban Wilderness will help ensure people have a great experience on the trails,” added AMBC President Wes Soward. “Having access to water and the basic tools to keep your bike functioning will make a big difference to everyone from regular riders to first-time hikers.”

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Harrell Road Stormwater Park Opens!

One of Legacy Parks’ very first projects came to fruition as Knox County Parks and Recreation opened the Harrell Road Stormwater Park and Beaver Creek River Trail. The stormwater park is located at 7221 Harrell Road, between Karns and Powell. The 19 acres that make up the park was donated to Legacy Parks Foundation in 2008, and the group’s Land Conservation Committee decided to turn it into a neighborhood park.


This collaborative project transformed an exposed clay soil mining area to a beautiful passive public park that can be used by both professionals to teach about stormwater management practices and by the public for recreation and enjoyment of our region’s fauna and flora. It contains two constructed stormwater wetland ponds that divert neighborhood runoff, a rain garden that treats stormwater runoff, established native vegetation, a three-quarter mile walking trail, and a kayak/canoe launch connected to the Beaver Creek Water Trail.

Roy Arthur, a member of Legacy Parks’ Land Conservation Committee, took the lead with this project, putting in countless volunteer hours and coordination efforts. Taking on the project was a natural fit, as Roy is also the Watershed Coordinator for Knox County Stormwater Management and a Research Associate at Tennessee Water Resources Research Center at the University of Tennessee. Roy put together public/private partnerships, coordinated federal and local employees and volunteers of all ages, and acquired almost half of the park’s cost in donations in addition to many other tasks.

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Legacy Parks helps with Maryville to Townsend Greenway

Working together to connect Knoxville to the Smokies

Legacy Parks helps with Maryville to Townsend GreenwayLegacy Parks is working with a consortium of local and regional government and non-profit agencies to advance the Maryville-to-Townsend Greenway Expansion in Blount County, Tenn. Currently playing a coordination role, Legacy Parks is helping lead the effort to gather community engagement, refine the Greenway route and create a funding strategy.

Contributing groups gathered at the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority’s annual Tourism Day on May 11 to spotlight economic as well as health and quality-of-life benefits of the project – set to unfold in two phases in the coming years.

            The proposed Maryville-to-Townsend Greenway will provide 14 miles of trail connecting Maryville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – part of a larger regional effort to link pedestrians and cyclists from Knoxville to the Smokies through a greenway trail.

            Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation joined Ellen Zavisca of the Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization at Tourism Day to outline key aspects of the project.

            Also included in the consortium are Alcoa City Government, Appalachian Regional Commission, Blount County Government, the Blount Partnership, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council, Maryville City Government, the City of Townsend and Maryville / Alcoa / Blount County Parks & Rec.

Evans and Zavisca emphasized the positive Greenway impacts expected not only for Blount County’s tourism economic base but also for regional health and citizen quality of life.

            According to Evans, the consortium group conducted an extensive study in recent years to examine multiple options for developing the trail, as well as a fiscal analysis and economic impact overview.

“We are looking at a fairly diverse funding strategy, inclusive of foundation grants and private dollars,” Evans said.

The current strategy includes dividing the trail building project into two phases, with Phase One connecting Maryville to Heritage High School at an estimated construction cost of $3 million. Later, Phase Two – a significantly longer piece of trail – will connect Heritage High School to Townsend, at an estimated cost of $21 million.

For return-on-investment, the Greenway study pointed to a $65 million economic impact of the trail over a 10-year period, with every $1 spent on construction and maintenance producing a return on investment of $2.66.  Property values near the trail will also see a positive boost, with statistics indicating that homeowners pay a $9,000 premium on houses located within 1,000 feet of bike paths.

Communities with greenway systems also reap economic gains with corporate and industrial recruitment – as out-of-market companies looking to relocate to Blount County tend to view greenways as a local quality-of-life and healthy-lifestyle benefit for their employee base.

From a Tourism Day perspective, the driver of the Greenway’s economic impact ties in with how much it elevates Blount County’s profile from a regional destination to a national destination.

A 2015 study by UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy entitled “Economic Potential of South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness” outlined economic impact and growth projections for the 42 miles of trail inclusive of the 12.5 mile South Loop in Knox County.  The study showed that annual expenditures tied to use of the trail – such as restaurant and lodging expenditures – can multiply by a factor of two to nearly three times if the trail evolves from simply being a “local amenity” for community use to a national destination for travelers.

Because the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is already a major national destination as the most-visited national park in the nation, expanding its appeal to include outlying areas in Blount County for hiking and biking purposes means a stronger tourism economic impact, including contributions to the local tax base from visitors.

About Maryville-to-Townsend Greenway:

            The Maryville-to-Townsend Greenway will include a paved trail within the right-of-way of Lamar Alexander Parkway / Highway 321 connecting the Maryville and Alcoa paved Greenway system – totaling 21 miles – and the existing nine-mile Townsend Greenway. The connection between Maryville and Townsend is a key element in the vision to link Knoxville to Townsend, a gateway to the Smoky Mountains.

            This year is a ramp-up for funding to complete and implement the first phase of the trail. A mix of funding possibilities is being pursued, including foundations and private donations. Community outreach is a major component to raise awareness for potential funding. The community will see more about the full scope throughout the summer ahead.

The complete plan is available at

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Legacy Parks McBee Ferry Property

County Budget Supports BMX and River Access

After great news of the City funding Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, Legacy Parks was once again elated that Mayor Burchett’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal for Knox County included support for our outdoor recreation assets. With $750,000 included for a BMX facility and $50,000 for Legacy Parks’ McBee Ferry Park project, this funding will help more Knox County residents and visitors experience the incredible outdoor resources of our county while being more active and improving health.

The BMX track will be developed in the old stadium at South-Doyle Middle School, and aims to be not only a fun recreation asset to residents, but also a tourism destination with amenities to include restrooms, concessions, and bleachers.

And with a key focus on accessing our waterways, Legacy Parks will utilize the funding for the McBee Ferry Park to develop a much-needed public access point along the Holston River, creating opportunities for shorter, more manageable trips. With a new boat launch, people will be able to enjoy a trip of reasonable length with some of the best trout fishing in the region and beautiful views while staying close to town.

We are grateful to Mayor Tim Burchett, Knox County Commission, and their constituents for supporting these investments in the health and vitality of our county through preservation and access to our wonderful outdoor assets.

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2016 Urban Wilderness Map

City Budget Supports Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness

Legacy Parks is thrilled to see a $1.7 million investment in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness proposed in Mayor Rogero’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget – including $300,000 for Legacy Parks’ G & O Trail project!

Since establishing the Urban Wilderness in 2008, Legacy Parks has continued working to expand and connect this forested area that offers exceptional recreational, cultural, and historic assets to our city. We are so pleased that the City of Knoxville will support improvements to this area that will benefit residents and visitors alike and help get more people outside and active.

Initiatives included in the proposed budget for the Urban Wilderness:

  •  $400,000 for new Urban Wilderness trailhead and parking area at the southern end of James White Parkway
  • $1 million to improve access and recreational facilities at Fort Dickerson Quarry
  • $300,000 for a trail alongside Gulf and Ohio Railways tracks from Chapman Highway to Ijams Nature Center

Legacy Parks will continue to collaborate on the expansion of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, and will soon begin plans for the G & O Trail. This trail, identified by the community as one of its top outdoors priorities, will be three miles long and virtually flat, offering an easy connection along the G & O Railway from the edge of Chapman Highway to Ijams’ Meads Quarry. The connection will provide an exceptional recreational and commuter path for South Knoxville businesses, neighborhoods, and destinations.

Thank you to Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knoxville City Council, and their constituents for supporting an investment in the work we do to expand and preserve our city’s natural outdoor assets!

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Bikes & Blooms Southbound

Fun Exploring Knoxville’s Natural Beauty

Legacy Parks was pleased to partner again with Dogwood Arts to produce Hikes & Blooms and Bikes & Blooms this year! We coordinated volunteers from several outdoor clubs and groups to offer two hikes and two bike rides that were free, open to the public, and fun for the whole family.

Starting the season off with the hikes, we explored Ft. Dickerson, learning the Civil War history of the land and finding beautiful views from the bottom and the top of the quarry. The second hike covered the trails at Baker Creek Preserve, where we observed the giant sycamore trees and overlooks of the city.

During the weekend of Dogwood Arts Festival, we hit the roads and greenways on bikes to continue exploring Knoxville’s natural beauty. The northbound route was about seven miles through historic neighborhoods with a stop at Three Rivers Market for a complementary beverage, and the southbound route started at the new Suttree Landing Park, traveling the greenway to Ijams Nature Center and back.

Through Hikes & Blooms and Bikes & Blooms, we were able to get 200 people to get out and play, and we can’t wait to do it again next year!

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