Leave the working world behind this weekend

Carol EvansOur Town Outdoors

The thing most of us enjoy about Labor Day Weekend is not working. But even if it’s somewhat strenuous, doing something active outdoors usually doesn’t feel like work.

This weekend has a wealth of wonderful low-key activities, many of which are free. It should be the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of East Tennessee.

Norris Dam State Park will keep its rangers busy helping us unwind. Tonight at 6 and on Sunday at noon, Ranger Josh will lead a nature walk on the Christmas Fern Trail, a moderate, half-mile loop that runs near Norris Lake. Ranger Trent will lead a 1.5-mile night hike at Norris starting at 8 tonight. You’ll need a flashlight for that one, but how much fun that will be in the cool of the evening.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Ranger Josh will lead a tour of the 18th-century rice grist mill at Norris Dam park. You can learn about the mill works and the simpler way of life that existed back then. (Simple, yes, but don’t  kid yourself – our ancestors really knew the meaning of work.)

Back in Knox County, on Saturday, Ranger Stephanie will lead a 2- to 3-mile hike to teach people how to identify plants and trees at Seven Islands State Birding Park. That one’s for the early birds. For night owls, Ijams Nature Center is offering a Family Night Hike to let folks enjoy the nocturnal goings-on of the creatures on site.

At the Obed Wild & Scenic River, Saturday is Adopt-A-Crag Day. Volunteers are needed to help with general trail maintenance and park beautification. (Basically, you do a little work, and you help make the park more enjoyable for all. Cheers to you!)

Next week is also full of fun. Don’t forget the Kids MTB Camp Tuesday at Baker Creek Preserve in the Urban Wilderness. The program is open to girls of all abilities.

On Wednesday, birds of a feather will flock together (sorry, couldn’t resist) when the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society has a potluck dinner at Seven Islands State Birding Park.

Finally, send word to all your undead buddies: The Zombies Like Brains 8k will get started at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, followed by  the 1 Mile Zombie Walk for DIPG Awareness at 9:15 at the greenway trailhead at the AMC Classic 16 (formerly Carmike Wynnsong). The route will use the 10-Mile Greenway and the Jean Teague Greenway.

Participants are encouraged to dress as zombies, and there will be prizes for scariest and cutest zombies.

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a brain-stem tumor that usually strikes children and is inoperable and incurable. Funds raised by the Zombie events will go toward research and raising awareness about DIPG.

For details on all these events and to see what else is  going on outside, check out 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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