This is WAY too big a topic for just one post, y’all. If you want to go hiking but you don’t feel like driving to the mountains, South Knoxville is the place for you. And I’m not just talking Ijams, even though we all know how wonderful that is.
But let me back up for a minute. I grew up a Northwest Knoxville girl, and South Knoxville was that place with all the kudzu that we entered approximately three times per year, if that: twice a year to visit our dentist whose office was on Taliwa, just a couple of miles down Chapman Highway; and maybe once for our all-too-infrequent trips to Metcalf Bottoms in the Smokies.
But then I grew up, got married, had three kids, and needed to live in a house instead of an apartment. Our first home was in the Lake Forest neighborhood of South Knoxville, on the dogwood trail, and I quickly grew to appreciate this underrated part of my hometown. One of its charms then and now was the large parts of it that remained undeveloped–its topography is less hospitable to sprawl than the erstwhile farmland of West Knoxville.
Thankfully all that Urban Wilderness is now forever safe from McMansions. Instead we have 40 miles of walking and biking trails with a 12.5 mile loop connecting them all. Emily and I are working up to walking that whole loop in one day some time this fall, but in the meantime we are hitting the trails every weekend, hoping to walk on them all and get the official patch!
So far we have walked from Island Home Park (this was on the Will Skelton Greenway and not officially part of the Urban Wilderness Loop) to Ijams to walk on some of the trails there. Of course, we’ve walked all the Ijams trails many a time, but we are doing them all again and probably need one more trip over there to finish them up for the patch. We spent one afternoon doing some of the trails in the William Hastie Natural Area, and Saturday we started exploring the Forks of the River Trails. Each of these places deserves a post to itself, so that’s what I am going to do. And I encourage you to come out and explore the Urban Wilderness for yourselves.