“I wanted a way for Knoxville and Knox County residents to hike without undertaking a drive to the Smoky Mountains or other inconvenient areas,” said Ron Shrieves, an outings leader with the Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club. Christine Hamilton and Mac Post, also hikers with the Harvey Broome Group, shared Ron’s desire to publicize Knoxville and Knox County walking trails, greenways, and parks.
With support and assistance from the Legacy Parks Foundation, the hikers’ goal has now been realized, and a book launch party for “Urban Hikes in Knoxville and Knox County, Tennessee“ (161 pages; Legacy Parks Foundation) will be held at Mast General Store on Friday, November 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The book costs $25 and all proceeds will benefit the Legacy Parks Foundation.
For over a year, Hamilton, Post, and Shrieves, along with hikers from their meetup.com group, the Knoxville Greenway Walkers, explored, researched, and documented historical and physical data about the city and country greenways, including the Urban Wilderness Loop in South Knoxville.
Mac Post says, “If you haven’t been hiking in the Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness in the last year you will see vast improvement in the trail signage. The small foldable trail map is excellent and it makes things easier the first time you go to a new area since there are many trail junctions. The junctions are now well marked. If you aren’t expert at map reading you should get the Urban WIlderness Mobile Map at http://www.outdoorknoxville.com/urban-wilderness-mobile-trail-map You will get an up-to-date trail map on your phone that is GPS enabled and it will show a blue dot on the trail where you are standing.”
He also reports that trails and parks with prior bad reputations, like Sharp’s Ridge and I.C. King Park, have improved. “It seems to me that Knoxville’s remedy to these areas was to let the mountain bike club AMBC build trails and get lots of mountain bikers, and trail runners, using them. In the case of Sharp’s Ridge you see lots of birders along the road at certain times of the year. I can’t say that no one is cruising for drugs or sex at these places, but these are not obvious activities.” A birdwatcher with the Knox Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society confirms that the Sharp’s Ridge hiking trail is safe.
The urban hiking guide includes 31 of the authors’ favorite trails. It also details all aspects necessary for a hiker of any level of fitness to choose an appropriate trail. Practical matters like parking, restrooms, map orientation, and suitability for children or individuals with disabilities are included in the guide.
© Diana Cruze, 2014.