April 23--GET OUT
Outdoor KnoxFest is two full days of urban adventure April 26 and 27 from a bicycle seat, stand up paddle board, canoe, trail, climbing wall, slack line and more. The Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center at Volunteer Landing will be the hub for this year's activities that encourage people of all ages and levels of experience to participate. The festival showcases Knoxville's outdoor amenities with a spotlight on the Urban Wilderness, a 1,000-acre urban playground minutes from downtown.
For a complete list of clinics, trail rides, rock climbs and more, go to www.outdoorknoxville.com/outdoorknoxfest
TAKE A HIKE
The local Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club will host these outings in May:
May 3 Dayhike: Spruce Flats Falls & Meigs Creek Trails, Great Smokies. Rated moderate. Preregister with BJ and Bob Perlack: [email protected]; 229-5027.
May 10-11 Backpack: Gilliland Creek, Great Smokies. Total hiking distance is 10.5 miles. Backcountry camp fee $4 per person; check with the leader about reservations status. Rated easy. Pre-register with Warren or Carol Devine, 483-7894 or [email protected].
May 17-18 Backpack: Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC. Hiking distance will be about 9.2 miles total with substantial elevation gain. Rated difficult. Preregister with Will Skelton: H 523-2272; Cell 72-7327; [email protected].
May 24 Take-a-Hike, Biodiversity Tour: Rabbit Creek Trail, Great Smokies. This 5.4 mile hike from Abrams Creek to Campsite 16 and back will feature understories of mountain laurel, blueberry, and huckleberry with an open canopy of pines and oaks. Rated easy. Preregister with Mac Post at 865-806-0980 or [email protected] (email preferred).
May 31 Wildlife Float: Rankin Wildlife Management Area, Douglas Lake. 3 to 5 miles of flatwater paddling. Arrange your own canoe rentals if you need a boat. Preregister with Ron Shrieves: phone 922-3518; [email protected] (email preferred).
JUNIOR RANGER DAY
Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate National Junior Ranger Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, with special activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove Visitor Center and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
Children and their families can join in a variety of free, hands-on activities including ranger-guided walks, historic toy making, talking to a wildland firefighter, making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop, and visiting touch tables with animal skins, skulls, and scat. Information about specific programs is available at each visitor center.
Children can earn their free Junior Ranger patch by completing three specially planned activities. A Junior Ranger booklet is available for those who would like to explore the park in more depth. The Junior Ranger booklets can be purchased for $2.50 each at park visitor centers. The booklets are designed to serve a variety of age targeted groups from 5-12.
Junior Ranger Day will run in conjunction with the park's annual Music of the Mountains festival at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Families are encouraged to stop in and listen to Appalachian music that will be featured in the theatre from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
There will also be an opportunity for middle and high school students at Sugarlands Visitor Center on April 26, to participate in a salamander monitoring project from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. This project will provide a "behind the scenes" look into a real science project that has been an on-going study for many years in the park.
For information about Junior Ranger Day, contact Lloyd Luketin at 865-436-1292.
For information about Music of the Mountains, call 865-436-1291.
For information about the salamander monitoring project, contact Emily Guss at 865-736-1713.
A new section of the Cumberland Trail, from Black Mountain to Windlass Cave will be the site of a botanizing expedition on Saturday, April 26. Led by botanist Larry Pounds, the outing will highlight the variety of plants and habitats influenced by sandstone and limestone geology.
The hike distance is about four miles. Meet for carpooling at 10 a.m. Eastern in the Rush/Books-a-Million parking lot in Oak Ridge or at 11 a.m. EDT at the BP Station at the I-40 Crab Orchard exit 329, east of Crossville. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and bring raingear, insect repellant, water, and lunch.
This outing, cosponsored by Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning and the Tennessee Native Plant Society, is the first time for a spring plant survey on this newly opened section of the Cumberland Trail. For more information, contact Larry Pounds at 865-705-8516 or [email protected].
BIKES & BLOOMS
Bikes & Blooms, the "lean and green" way to explore the Dogwood Arts Festival's annual Dogwood Trails is partnering with Outdoor KnoxFest for this year's event April 26-27. Outdoor KnoxFest is two full days of urban adventure for everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to those who simply love to get outdoors and play.
This year's Bike & Blooms bike tours will begin at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center at Volunteer Landing and each tour will be led by a member of Tennessee Valley Bikes. Each route consists of a seven- to nine-mile scenic ride. Helmets are required and young riders (age eight and above) must be skilled at on-road riding. Although the trail is open all day for bikers, the following organized routes will be available.
3 p.m. Saturday, April 26: From the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center to the gardens that frame Island Home Boulevard. Riders will enjoy river views and tranquil forests as they continue on the greenway to Ijams Nature Center before returning. Free, but pre-registration is required at OutdoorKnoxville.com
3 p.m. Sunday, April 27: Leaving the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center, riders will ride through downtown and loop through historic neighborhoods in North Knoxville. Free, but pre-registration is required at OutdoorKnoxville.com
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a Cherokee touring exhibit, "Understanding our Past, Shaping our Future", Saturday, April 26, through Tuesday, May 27, at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The exhibit focuses on Cherokee language and culture, using sound recordings as the basis for presenting a coherent story in words and text. Acting Superintendent Pedro Ramos will welcome the community to a special sneak preview of the exhibit on Friday, April 25 from 6-7 p.m.
The content for the exhibit was developed, by design, with significant community input allowing a more personal Cherokee story to be told. Community teams held monthly discussions to develop exhibit themes and images. Rather than presenting a chronological history, teams developed a thematic approach to sharpen the Cherokee perspective focusing on Cherokee homeland, heritage sites, tourism, family, and community celebrations.
The touring exhibit is sponsored by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in partnership with Cherokee Central Schools, Southwestern Community College, and Western Carolina University.
Upcoming spring wildflower walks in the area include:
Sixty-fourth Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, April 23-27. On site registration begins 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 15, in the Mills Conference Center, Gatlinburg. Visit www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org for more information.
Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area, April 19-20. Call the park at 423-346-3318 for more information.
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will host a wildflower walk Saturday, April 12, starting at 10 a.m. The hike begins at the Leatherwood Fork gazebo and will continue along the Angel Falls Overlook Trail to the Fall Branch Bridge, a distance of 1.8 miles one way. Visitors will discover wildflowers in bloom and will be given a checklist so they can discover more species on their own as the season progresses. Leatherwood Fork is located on U.S. Highway 297 at the bottom of the river gorge between park headquarters and Bandy Creek. For more information call 423-286-7275.
The Daniel Boone National Forest, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the McCreary County Tourism Commission will host the first annual Wildflower Discovery Weekend on May 2-3 in Stearns, Ky.
There will be a seminar on threatened and endangered species on May 2 in the evening inside the Big South Fork Scenic Railway Train Depot. Participants can register for guided hikes to nearby Yahoo Falls -- Kentucky's highest waterfall -- and wildflower walks led by seasoned professionals.
Visito www.mccrearytourism.com for lodging information. Please call 606-376-3008 or [email protected] for more information.
TRAIL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
The Knox County Parks & Recreation Department is implementing a new community-wide Trail Volunteer Program that will offer local trail and greenway users the opportunity to make the park system a friendlier, cleaner, more inviting place to bike, run and play.
The program is a partnership between Knox County, the City of Knoxville, the Town of Farragut, Ijams Nature Center and Outdoor Knoxville. Those interested in joining the program can apply online at http://knoxcounty.org/parks/trail_volunteer/application.php
Any responsible adult, of any age and ability, is welcome to take part. Volunteers should be willing to commit a few hours each month to visit their specific trail or greenway. Even a small contribution of time will be helpful, and the experience will be rewarding and fun.
The basic responsibilities of a trail volunteer member are to:
GREET all trail users and act as goodwill ambassadors for our community.
INFORM users about the park and trail system, trail directions, etiquette and rules.
ASSIST users who are lost, need bike repair, first aid (when trained) and assist local governments or land managers concerning maintenance and illegal activity.
Knox County's Senior Director of Parks and Recreation Doug Bataille, along with other partners and sponsors of the program, will be available for media interviews on Thursday, April 10 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Mead's Quarry trail head, 2915 Island Home Ave.
For information visit http://knoxcounty.org/parks/trail_volunteer/index.php.
Join us for fitness, fun and friendship. If you are a woman 55+ or a man 60+ you are eligible to play in this special non-competitive softball league. Age rule exceptions are made for those who have a disability but can still play softball. We play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30-11:30 at Caswell Park on Winona beginning April 8 through October. Join us any time during the season. Everyone plays regardless of ability, we don't keep score and balls and strikes are not called. Five teams are currently active but they're still forming. $10 per season for accident insurance required by the City of Knoxville. For more information email [email protected].
The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club will host the following outings in April. For more information, go to www.smhclub.org
April 26: Norris State Park and Watershed. Depart from Outback Parking Lot, 314 Merchants Dr., at 8:30 a.m. Hike: About 9 miles, rated easy-to-moderate due to length. Leader: Brad Reese, [email protected]
April 27: Scotts Gulf Loop. Depart from Roane County High School in Kingston, 540 West Cumberland Street, at 7:30 a.m. Hike: 8 miles, rated moderate. Leader: Jim Quick, [email protected]
Smoky Mountain Field School will hold the following classes in April. To register go to www.smfs.utk.edu or call 865-974-0150.
Bears of the Smokies, 10:3 a.m.-5:30 p.m., $49. Explore the life cycle and habits of our southern Appalachian black bear. A moderate hike into prime bear habitat includes discussions on bear biology, research, and management of this incredible landscape species. Instructor: Dr. Jay Clark.
Spring Wildflower and Nature Photography, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., $65. Spring photography in the Smokies: wildflowers and landscapes. Learn the principles of composition, perspective, exposure, light and proper use of equipment through classroom and field instruction. Instructor: Kendall Chiles.
Appalachian Trail Day Hike: Clingmans Dome to Siler Bald Shelter, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., $59. Learn all about the AT while hiking a portion in the Smokies. We'll discuss its history, upkeep, the many legends that abound, the plethora of nature that surrounds it, and the characters who hike it. Instructor: Doris Gove.
The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club needs experienced backpackers to help maintain the Appalachian Trail in some relatively remote parts of Smoky Mountains National Park. If you would like to "adopt" a piece of the AT and can make three or four trips per year to the backcountry, call George Ritter at 865-483-9758 or email [email protected].. The work mainly consists of cleaning out water bars and cutting back vegetation.
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