I’m constantly amazed by the variety of outdoor activities available in our area, but it has really struck me lately how much the infrastructure for two specific interests has grown.
Paddling is one. Kayaking and standup paddleboarding have exploded in popularity in recent years. We have convenient access now to lots of our rivers, lakes and creeks. There are plenty of shops that carry and/or rent the equipment. And we even have several instruction opportunities for beginners so they can have fun and be safe.
Just looking at the Outdoor Knoxville calendar for the next 10 days has me craving a getaway. There are nighttime paddles at Big Ridge State Park and City Lights paddles on the Tennessee River right here in downtown Knoxville. There are daytime adventures at Cove Lake State Park and on the Clinch River.
On Sunday, the Water Quality Forum is hosting the third annual “Cheers to Clean Water: Tennessee River Paddle-off,” starting at Suttree Landing Park in South Knoxville. You can race or just float and enjoy the day.
We truly are blessed with our area’s natural beauty, and looking at it from the water gives you a whole new perspective. If you haven’t tried it, you should.
The other escalating pastime is birding. It might have something to do with Seven Islands State Birding Park, the first such park in the state. It’s been a bonus for experienced birders and newbies alike.
Coming up, Seven Islands has a basic bird-call hike, a “Bird-About” and a bird-banding event overseen by the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. All sound like fun! The Ornithological Society is also hosting a birding hike at Frozen Head State Park that will cover two miles at an easy birding pace. You’ll see Cerulean Warblers and various migrants and summer residents.
If you like the concept of tackling the outdoors but maybe aren’t up to anything strenuous, you can live vicariously through the adventures of Bob Whetsel and Daniel Duncan. Whetsel and Duncan rode their bikes across the country from San Diego, Calif., to St. Augustine, Fla. They’ll present a program on their trek at the monthly meeting of the Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11.
For details and to peruse other outdoor activities, visit 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.