News & Events

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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Comcast Cares Day Beautifies Baker Creek Preserve

Thank you to all the volunteers who came out for Comcast Cares Day to help Legacy Parks and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club make Baker Creek Preserve an even better place to get out and play! Despite the rain, 50+ participants helped remove invasive plants along Baker Creek, clean up and restore the foundation of an old spring house, improve trails throughout Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, and build benches for the soon-to-be “Play Forest” by South Doyle Middle School.

Thanks to HGTV’s sponsorship of materials for the benches and donated food and beverages from Food City and Yee-Haw Brewing Company, we were able to work hard, make a difference, and have a great time together too.

To learn about future volunteer opportunities, subscribe to our newsletter or email

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Billy Lush paddlers use Legacy Parks dock to launch on TN River

Billy Lush Boards & Brew Reopens!

Did you know you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, and more right downtown?

Billy Lush Boards & Brew, located in the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center is now open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the spring season!

Legacy Parks created easy access to the Tennessee River right downtown with a dock at Volunteer Landing. Take advantage of this access and experience how fun it is to go for a paddle with the city skyline in the background!

Here’s a quick look at some of their upcoming events where you can join in the fun. Visit the Billy Lush Boards & Brew website for more.

  • Full Moon and Brew Paddle On May 18th, 8:00 PM
  • City Lights Night Paddles begin on May 27th, 8:00 PM
  • Paddle Board 101 Lessons begin on May 20th, 10:00 AM
  • First Creek Clean Sweep and
Legacy Parks Pint Night on May 25th starting at 6:30Friends of Legacy Parks get 15% off rentals and 10% off retail and beer at Billy Lush Boards & Brew. Become a Friend now!
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Workplace Giving for More Parks, Trails, and Open Space!

Your workplace benefits from the outdoors too! Through workplace giving, you can maximize your support for Legacy Parks and our outdoor resources. Some employers host a giving campaign or offer a matching program to encourage employees to help make a difference in our community.

If you’re a University of Tennessee or federal employee, we are a part of the giving campaigns that make automatic contributions from your paycheck. Please consider selecting Legacy Parks as the recipient of your gift to leave your own legacy on East Tennessee’s landscape.

If Legacy Parks is not a part of your employer’s giving campaign or you don’t have an employer match program offered, we would love to set this up! Simply contact Sarah at for more information.

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Save the date for TuckahoeDown!

Seven Islands State Birding Park will host its first TuckahoeDown on October 7th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is promising fun times for all! This beautiful 416-acre riverfront park in East Knox County will be the perfect destination for anyone seeking family-friendly activities including outdoor recreation, crafts, live music, and nature education.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the programs you’ll have to choose from!

  • Boating at Seven Islands Landing
  • Demonstration on the Quilt Trails
  • Birding for Beginners hike
  • Kids crafting
  • Wildlife photography demonstrations

This is just a taste of what you’ll find at TuckahoeDown! You’ll be sure to notice the charm of the friendly Knoxville creek community of Tuckahoe, the festival’s namesake, woven into the activities, music, food, and more. Come out and savor the beautiful landscapes, flora, and fauna of Seven Islands, and celebrate the gift this natural place is for our community.

You’ll find the park at 2809 Kelly Lane in Kodak, TN. We’ll see you there!

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Legacy Parks volunteers for Comcast Cares Day

Help Legacy Parks improve Baker Creek Preserve on Comcast Cares Day!

This Earth Day, Legacy Parks Foundation will host more than 200 volunteers for Comcast Cares Day to make Baker Creek Preserve an even better place to get out and play! Join us at 8 a.m. on April 22 to get your hands dirty and help out with one of the many projects we’ll complete on the Preserve, including trail work and invasive plant removal. Together, we will work to beautify the landscape and enhance the health of this popular natural space.

Baker Creek Preserve is the newest addition to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, and offers our community eight hiking and biking trails for all levels of experience along with a natural playspace for kids of all ages. Help us enhance this great space to make it an even better place for the whole community to meet and experience the beauty of nature so close to downtown.

Find out more and sign up here!

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Legacy Parks hosts Weed Wrangle Knoxville


Legacy Parks hosts Weed Wrangle Knoxville The second annual Weed Wrangle-Knoxville is a citywide effort led by the Knoxville Garden Club to help remove invasive species at several popular outdoor destinations around town. This year, volunteers will gather on March 4 from 9 a.m. to noon at Baker Creek Preserve and four other locations to help wrangle the pesky, non-native plants that hinder the growth of the native plants in these areas. Legacy Parks is excited to continue a partnership with the Knoxville Garden Club into a second year through the coordination of volunteers at Baker Creek Preserve! Just email Sarah at to sign up!

 The invasive plants that we will tackle were likely introduced for agricultural or landscaping decades ago, but threaten our native trees, plants, and wildlife today. Although many of them have beautiful blooms and scents, they can offset the natural balances of the places we enjoy hiking, biking, and playing.

 With direction from experts in invasive weed management from Invasive Plant Control and the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council, volunteers will take the necessary steps to restore Knoxville’s landscapes to a healthy, native ecosystem. Our work will make a difference not only on this property, but will help prevent these invasive species from spreading to other private yards and public spaces.

 Through the Weed Wrangle, volunteers will learn what it takes to free an area of invasive plants and the impact they can have on our ecosystem. By spreading the word about best practices, we will begin to establish a community that is knowledgeable about caring for the native plants in their own yards and the spaces we all share throughout East Tennessee.

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