A couple of weekend ago, Emily and I got a late start on Saturday morning. And there are times when South Knoxville feels far far away. Plus walking in the Urban Wilderness can take you deep into the woods, with no quick way to get back into civilization. In short, sometimes you want a walk, not a hike.
So we opted to head to West Hills and the Jean Teague Greenway, a walk that I imagine almost all West Knoxvillians are familiar with.
We were sneaky and parked at the church at the west end of the greenway instead of in the YMCA parking lot. Unless it’s Sunday, no one is parked there! The first part of this walk runs behind a neighborhood, and I always think how nice it would be to live in a house with a greenway in the backyard! This part has wildflowers and ornamental trees that have been planted there just to decorate the greenway.
Walk a little farther and you will cross a street and enter West Hills Park. This part of the greenway has a loop, so you could increase the length of your walk if you want by looping as many times as you like! The right hand loop is shaded with trees.
Midway around the loop you take an extension that goes past West Hills Elementary and, if it’s a school day, a playground full of staring children. This part ends at Vanosdale Road. You can then turn around and come back and take the other side of the loop, which is more open and goes past some playground areas.
The playgrounds are nice if you’ve brought kids along. You can leave them there while you walk the loop if you aren’t afraid of the other parents who may call DCS on you if you dare to let your children swing at a well-populated park outside of your direct supervision.
This is a crowded park, with lots of people walking dogs, strolling babies, and having birthday parties.
It’s not a wilderness hike, but it’s a nice, reliable place to exercise when you are short on time but would rather enjoy the fall weather than run on a treadmill!
For more West Knoxville walks, see below:
Walking in West Knoxville
A May Stroll You Must Take
Short West Knoxville Walks
Look! It’s the beginning of another path to explore in South Knoxville!
Actually, this is a post about many paths. Many, many paths, which you can find at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, one of the stops along the South Knox Loop and part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness.
Emily and I have spent part of two Saturdays here so far, and it will take us at least two more to make sure we hit all the trails (so we can cross them off and eventually get a badge for walking every trail in the wilderness). I have been especially excited about walking here because years ago when we would walk on the Will Skelton Greenway (it runs along the river on the outskirts of the WMA) we used to wonder about all the rest of the land and wish that we dared to walk on some of the paths we saw. And now we can!
The Will Skelton Greenway doesn’t start here, of course–it begins at Island Home Park and skirts Ijams before it reaches this point. The first part of it isn’t even part of the South Loop. It’s paved and you plan a walk that would include some of the WMA trails and Ijams trails (that’s what we did on our recent visit.).
Besides the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers, visitors to the WMA will get to enjoy creeks as well. Don’t you love the soothing sound they make?
We got a little turned around on the trails the first time we came, but that won’t happen again thanks to the app I told y’all about already. This last time we just looked at the little dot on our phones if we weren’t sure which way we should be going! But the trails are well marked for those of you who like your nature technology-free.
This place abounds with beautiful views. There are meadow views . . .
Woodland views . . .
And river views . . .
What I love most (and can’t stop taking pictures of) are the wildflowers.
One thing to keep in mind: hunting is allowed here, so be careful. Stay on the trails. The different hunting seasons are posted and you might want to make note of when it’s likely to be more populated with hunters if you are concerned.
Next time you feel like hiking in the mountains, go the the WMA instead. Save yourself some gas and see the surprising places a path right here in Knoxville can lead!
So, a few weeks ago I was telling y’all that I once had planned to write a blog called “Walking in Knoxville,” and that I planned to incorporate that idea into this blog, because eclectic. I had really meant to chronicle each or my walks separately, but I’ve been walking so much (about which more later) that I had to choose between walking and writing.
What I have therefore decided to do instead is to share pictures and descriptions of several walks at once. Knoxville readers may learn about some new places to visit. The rest of you can enjoy the view (and see why Knoxville is such an awesome place to live!).
I want to keep walking regularly and I don’t want to get bored, so Emily and I have been walking somewhere different every time we go. Since we live in Northwest Knox County, that’s mostly been in West Knoxville, just because it takes too much time to drive elsewhere on a weekday. (Yes, it seems ridiculous to me also that we drive somewhere to walk. But walking up and down this street and around a couple of cul de sacs is not going to keep me motivated.)
The first five pictures below were taken at The Cove at Concord Park. It’s pretty there, nice for picnicking, and not bad for walking if you don’t mind retracing your steps (the loop isn’t very long).
Another day we were aiming for the Parkside Greenway and ended up more or less accidentally walking on the Grigsby Chapel Greenway in Farragut instead. What a nice surprise! It’s paved; some of it is wooded; and all of it is beautiful. It runs through neighborhoods of fancy apartments, upscale condos, and fine homes, many with gardens right by the trail. One part of it is specifically set aside to showcase native trees.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures that day, though, because I was worn out! Because we got on this trail by accident we did not know that it was over two miles long, and it’s not a loop. We didn’t make it quite to the end due to fear of storms. We are going to park at St. John Neumann (below) one day next week and finish it up. That was another special feature of this trail–it goes right past a prayer path/garden which was a nice detour for us.
If you are a Knoxvillian who enjoys walking at all, you won’t need me to tell you about the park pictured below. Lakeshore Park may be the most popular place in Knoxville, with its 2.5 mile (I think) paved loop trail that offers river views on one side and children playing baseball on the other. If you aren’t from Knoxville you might be interested to know that this park is on the former grounds of an insane asylum, and most of its buildings remain (it having been still in use as a psychiatric inpatient facility until very recently).
I’m not as fond of this walk as so many others seem to be because it has killer hills. Also I’m just tired of it. But it’s a reliable option for people who are not so easily bored.
Much prettier but not as practical for serious fitness buffs is Melton Hill Park, which I had visited earlier on that same day. (Yes, I did walk about four miles that day!) Well, to be fair, the paved loop isn’t very interesting, but there are two miles or so of trails through the woods. We only attempted a bit of that, and will return when hills and climbing seem less daunting (actually, that’s already getting better!).
On another day, we hit the tried and true Third Creek Trail, known to those of us growing up in the 70s as “The Bike Trail.” Yes, it was the one and only back in the day, and is still both immensely popular and one of the best, winding along Third Creek through forests of hardwood and bamboo, connecting Bearden to Tyson Park and connecting with the Neyland Greenway to make a path for walking all the way to downtown and the river.
We parked at the Bearden end of the trail, which is accessible in several locations, and since we didn’t have time to do the whole thing, took the spur up to Kingston Pike and walked back along the road, getting a nicer view of the churches and fine homes that line it than is available while whizzing by at 40 miles an hour.
I’ll no doubt revisit this old favorite many times this summer and perhaps post more pictures since I didn’t take too many that day. One thing I especially love is that there are blocks places naming the people who granted the land for each section of the trail, giving a little glimpse into Knoxville history as you walk along.
This next set of pictures were taken at the Turkey Creek Greenway, not to be confused with the one that goes through the Turkey Creek wetland and then runs behind the shopping center next to the Interstate. This is the one that begins at Anchor Park, a much-enjoyed favorite of ours when the big kids were toddlers–and then crosses Turkey Creek Road to access the neighborhoods on the other side.
I mentioned the Cove at Concord Park up above, and we’ve also tried the trails at the main part of Concord Park on the other side of Northshore. There’s nothing paved there, and you have to watch out for bikers, and then there are those pesky hills. There are several trails to try so we will probably give it another visit when we are in better shape.
Finally, we took a quick trip to the other Turkey Creek Greenway, the Knoxville one. This is a paved trail that runs through a wetland and then along the side of the Interstate. Talk about extremes. For you non-Knoxvillians, the greenway is a concession granted by the developers who turned most of the wetland into an upscale shopping/entertainment destination several years back.
Lately we’ve been walking in South Knoxville and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you too. Where do you like to walk? Tell me in the comments!
Before I started this blog, I had planned to write a very different one, which I was going to call Walking in Knoxville. The main focus of it was going to be walks I liked to go on (hence the name!) but I was going to use that as a jumping off point to discuss other issues too.
Just because I decided to go with this much more eclectic blog instead doesn’t mean I have to give up the topic of walking entirely, though! On the contrary, I can write about whatever I want! And today I want to begin showcasing some of the many greenways those of us lucky enough to live in Knoxville or Knox County have access to. Knoxville has over 65 miles of greenways, which I get the impression is kind of a lot.
Today Emily and I walked on the Pellissippi Greenway. This is one’s a well-kept secret, particularly nice for walkers on these first fine spring days which typically find better-traveled routes like the Third Creek Greenway hazardous due to the volume of bike traffic. We encountered one other party of walkers, just as we were finishing the return trip.
There’s plenty of parking, since the trailhead is at the Hardin Valley Campus of Pellissippi State Community College. After crossing Hardin Valley Road, the paved trail follows the Pellissippi Parkway to the south. The sight and sound of the nearby traffic is counteracted–at least at this time of year–by the daffodils.
At the end of the paved trail comes a mystery: a staircase to nowhere.
If you climb to the top, you’ll find a narrow footpath that continues along a ridge for some time farther, but no signs whatsoever of anything these stairs might have been built to reach. They are too old to have been built with greenway walkers in mind, and in fact I’m not sure that we are supposed to keep walking past this point although we always do. We didn’t quite make it to the end, because there’s a steep descent that would have meant a steep ASCENT to return, but I think the footpath ends on the (private) grounds of Centerpoint Business Park (just as pretentious as it sounds and apparently still awaiting most of the businesses).
I’d guess the whole thing is about a mile long each way, and the stairs are the hardest part, so it’s a nice spring stroll for the not-so-fit. I feel so lucky to live in Knoxville where although so much has been lost the “country” is still quickly and easily accessible from the “city.”