I am a fan of Ijams

Carol EvansFun Outdoors

One of our favorite outdoor partners is Ijams Nature Center, a 315-acre park in South Knoxville that has been recognized as one of the top travel destinations in the country.

Ijams has everything from peace and quiet to education and contemplation to strenuous physical activity and high-flying adventure. And it’s right here!

Just take the next nine days, for example. There’s a free naturalist-guided hike Saturday, May 4. The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club will have a group ride at Mead’s Quarry on Tuesday, May 7, with food trucks and beverages handy. On Saturday, May 11, Ijams will lead a program for birders of all experience levels: “Bird-Abouts: Little Brown Jobs at Forks of the River.”

Plus, Ijams will host the Knoxville Jazz Youth Orchestra on the Visitor Center lawn for a free concert at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. Doors open at 5:30. The group features high school students from Knox, Blount, Hamblen, Loudon and Cumberland counties.

Ijams’ programs are free or low cost, and there’s plenty more info on additional activities on ijams.org. And if you love and want to support Ijams, head over to River Sports Outfitters 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, for the May Pint Night benefiting the nature center.

Of course, the biggest park in our neck of the woods is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is a wonderful destination for adventure and education. The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is offering courses for the Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification Program May 10-12.

Get more information and the links to register on the Outdoor Knoxville calendar.

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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