Do Knoxville: Canoes, kayaks, zip lines and other outdoor activities

By The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


The Chota Canoe Club will hold its annual Canoe and Kayak School on the Hiwassee RiverJune 13-15. It's a great way to learn basic whitewater paddling or lake touring with skilled instructors. This is a family event that includes two days of instruction on the Hiwassee River, two nights camping at Adventures Unlimited, T-shirt and catered meal on Saturday evening. The fee for the weekend is $100 per participant. Equipment rentals are available through River Sports Outfitters and Uncle Lem's Outfitters in Knoxville. Course descriptions, registration, directions and more info is available on the Chota website at


The 2.5-hour, self-guided course allows visitors to explore at their own pace. Six routes will be available, each consisting of 8 to 13 elements graded from easy to extreme, with heights of 40 feet. Certified guides will be present to provide instruction, encouragement and assistance.

The "ZIPStream Fall Creek Falls" course will be open daily during the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall. The course is designed by The Adventure Guild, the company that introduced zip lines to America in 2010. For information on the zip line, visit:


The local Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club will host these outings in the coming month:

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 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 preferred).

June 7 Dayhike, Mt Cammerer Firetower, Great Smokies. Eleven miles with 3000 foot elevation gain. Rated Difficult. Pre-register with Conrad Ottenfeld,; 865-288-0975.

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June 14 Wildlife Float, Rankin Wildlife Management Area, Douglas Lake. Limited Group size. Sorry, we do not provide boats. Preregister with Ron Shrieves: phone 922-3518; (email preferred).

June 21-22 Backpack, Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area (Crest Zone), Jefferson National Forest, VA. Total mileage will be around 11 miles and possibly less if we do a shortcut. Rated Moderate. One-way drive: 170 miles. Preregister with Will Skelton: H 523-2272; C 742-2327;

June 28 Take-a-Swim, Biodiversity Tour (Aquatic Stream Diversity). Snorkel Citico Creek with the US Forest Service Fisheries Biologists. Cost is $20 per snorkeler and includes Forest Service Biologist guide, lifeguard, wetsuits, masks and snorkels. Preregister with Mac Post at 865-806-0980 or (email preferred).


Smoky Mountain Field School will hold the following classes in May. To register go to or call 865-974-0150.

May 24:

Elkmont -- Transition and Change: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $49. Join a retired Smokies ranger on an informative walking tour of one of the most fascinating areas of the Smokies, the Elkmont area.

May 29:

The Light Show in the Smokies, 7-11 p.m., $59. Visit the Elkmont area in the evening to learn the history of the area and the natural cycle of the synchronous fireflies.


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is accepting submissions for its "Zoom in to the Appalachian Trail" photo contest, a nationwide search for the best photos featuring close-up shots of the details that make up the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).

The photo contest asks participants to recognize that the A.T. is not only a footpath, but is also home to a vast array of wildlife and vegetation, scenery, unique people and special Trail communities. Contestants will submit a photograph of a favorite feature along the Trail. Photos may include people, places, scenery or more.

The top three photographers will each win a one-year membership to the ATC and will be featured in A.T. Journeys, the official magazine of the ATC.

Photo submissions will be accepted through June 3 and can be uploaded via the ATC's Facebook page, The public will then vote for their favorite photos through July 13. Winners will be announced the week of July 14.

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For a complete list of submission guidelines, rules and regulations, or to enter, visit


Saturday, May 24, 8 a.m. Ijams Paddle-About (Ages 5 and up): Mead's Quarry Lake is one of the most dramatic small lakes in the area, and early in the morning is the best time to explore it with naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales. Perfect for families and new paddlers. Both canoes and kayaks are available. $15 for Ijams members, $20 for non-members. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 119 to register.

Friday-Sunday, May 23-25, Rent a Canoe, Kayak or Paddleboard at Ijams: Paddle about Mead's Quarry Lake. Capacity of canoes is two adults. Children may be permitted to ride in the canoe with a parent if the weight limit is not exceeded as determined by River Sports Outfitters at the point of entry. A valid driver's license or state identification will be required and a credit or debit card will be held as security during the rental period. Flotation devices are provided and must be worn at all times. Equipment is available on first come, first served basis.

Saturday, May 24, 9:30 -- 11 a.m. Breakfast at Ijams: $5 per person. No pre-registration is required.

Saturday, May 24, 10 a.m., 2 and 3 p.m.: Ijams Creature Feature (All Ages). Get nose-to-beak with some of Ijams' furred and feathered ambassadors. Free, but donations to support animal care are welcome. Pre-registration is not required.

Saturday, May 24, 6 p.m. Family Campout at Ijams: Join River Sports Outfitters as they host a family campout at Ijams Nature Center. Camp on the lawn and participate in fun outdoor activities such as climbing walls, night hikes, movies and more! Pre-registration is required. Reservations can be made by calling River Sports Outfitters at (865) 523-0066.

Wednesday, May 28, 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. Garden Workday at Ijams. Free, but pre-registration is required. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 114 to register.

Wednesday, May 28, 1 p.m. Explore the Urban Wilderness with Ijams (All Ages): This series of hikes will help you explore a variety of trails around the park while enjoying the beautiful spring weather and scenic views of Ijams Nature Center. Free of charge, but pre-registration is required. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

Thursday, May 29, 10 a.m. Little Tykes Hike at Ijams (Recommended for children under 6): Little Tykes Hikes are perfect for little ones that love to explore, find, play and learn. We'll start with a short story inside, and then we'll head out to the trails. Call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.


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River Sports Outfitters, Visit Knoxville and Ijams Nature Center will host the Knoxville OWN It Summit June 7 in Knoxville. This day-long, youth-led summit will connect young Americans to identify, discuss and develop environmental literacy and civic engagement by connecting kids to the outdoors.

OWN It Summits, which are planned and produced entirely by passionate millennial leaders, will address the regional issues preventing young Americans from spending time outdoors, including cultural relevance, access, cost, safety and the environmental health of local outdoor spaces. Delegates will select the most creative and impactful projects that solve these problems to receive funding and support from The Outdoor Foundation. Following each Summit, participants will work together in the community -- spearheading the projects, influencing decision-makers and mobilizing people to get active and outdoors. Ultimately, the goal is to create long-term change in the relationships young people have with the outdoors.

Passionate young outdoor advocates interested in participating can purchase tickets at


The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club will host the following outings in May. For more information, go to

Saturday, May 31: Blue Heron Loop and Railroad Display. Hike: 7 miles, rated moderate. Depart from Outback Restaurant,314 Merchants Drive, at 8 a.m. Leaders: Brad Reese,, and Tim Ryan, tim51@comcast. net


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a Cherokee touring exhibit, "Understanding our Past, Shaping our Future," 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.

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.


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

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


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


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 The work mainly consists of cleaning out water bars and cutting back vegetation.


(c)2014 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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