Begin at the beginning to enjoy the outdoors more

Carol EvansOur Town Outdoors

Many people want to get outdoors and enjoy nature and the benefits of fresh-air exercise, but they don’t know how to get started. Fortunately, there are lots of folks in the area who are happy to help allay any concerns.

Say you want to enjoy the beauty of the Smokies but anything resembling a hill makes your knees go weak. On Thursday, Aug. 22, the Little River Trading Company will offer a free, guided hike on the Gatlinburg Trail, starting at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The 1.9-mile trail goes from the Sugarlands center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg (3.8 miles round trip). Along the way you enjoy views of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and see remnants of several old homesites.

Want to take a crack at fly fishing? Orvis in Sevierville offers Fly Fishing 101 classes, as does 3 Rivers Angler.

Mountain biking is popular with males and females of all ages, but some women find it daunting. Harpers Bike Shop offers South Loop Summer Sessions, targeted to new and beginner female riders and offering a skills clinic before the ride. The sessions (next one is Monday, Aug. 19) start from the Anderson School Trailhead in the Urban Wilderness. There’s also a kids’ mountain-biking camp through Little Bellas open to girls of all abilities on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Cedar Bluff Cycles hosts a mountain-bike skills clinic and ride each Wednesday at Haw Ridge.

Skills are important, but they’re learned over time, not overnight. Look for free and paid opportunities in the Outdoor Knoxville calendar.

Also, mark your calendar for Ijams Nature Center’s Wonder of Hummingbirds Festival, coming up Saturday, Aug. 24.

Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to ensuring that our community enjoys exceptional recreational opportunities, natural beauty and open spaces, and that those assets exist for generations to come.



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