Parks are the place to be on New Year’s Day

Carol EvansOur Town Outdoors

Well, 2019 is winding down, which can mean only one thing: 2020 is just days away!

Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions? Have you thought about goals for improving your health? Physicians and fitness experts encourage us not to make drastic changes. “Baby steps” are more effective, and although they don’t give us the quick makeovers we’d like, it’s easier to stick with them in the long run.

Being active outdoors is a good way to help us reach our goals. Walking, jogging, running, disc golfing, hiking and biking provide variety, which is a real encouragement to fitness plans. In East Tennessee, we are blessed with access to a multitude of outdoor activities, and we have a mostly accommodating climate. Take advantage of our assets to make movement a joy. You will feel it in your bones – and muscles.

Several of our area’s state parks are offering First Day Hikes on Wednesday, Jan. 1. They’re fun, and they’re free! The forecast is calling for nippy temperatures, so you’ll need to dress warmly. The hikes range from easy to difficult, so be sure to choose one at your skill level for maximum enjoyment.

Participating parks include Fort Loudoun (Tellico Blockhouse Tour, 8 a.m.), Frozen Head (9 a.m.), Cove Lake (10 a.m.), Norris Dam (10 a.m.), Panther Creek (10 a.m.), Big Ridge (1 p.m.) and Seven Islands (1 p.m.).

Mountain bikers have a choice of ride lengths in the New Year’s Day Mail Run at 10 a.m. at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. It’s free as well.

Ijams Nature Center is having a New Year’s Day Hike led by Ijams Hiking Club leaders Amy Oakey and Nick Stahlman at 1 p.m. There’s a $5 fee, but you’ll get to learn about local wildlife, the Urban Wilderness and the hiking club.

There are still fun outdoor things to do in December. Knoxville Scavenger Hunt: Knoxville’s Perfect Blend continues through Dec. 31. Light the Park at Farragut’s Founders Park and the Festival of Lights at The Cove at Concord Park both run through Jan. 1.

Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice at Market Square will continue through Jan. 5. Knoxville Ice Bears players and mascot Chilly Bear are scheduled to skate with the crowd from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30.

Oh, and you can get your move on at New Year’s on the Square, the city of Knoxville’s New Year’s Eve party at Market Square, starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31. The Bicho Brothers will provide live music while partiers wait for the ball drop and fireworks at midnight.

Find details on these and other events in 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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