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Knoxville's Outdoor Wonderland

See larger A boy traverses the bike trail’s longest bridge, a zigzag span over a large swampy area.

Photo by David Luttrell

A boy traverses the bike trail’s longest bridge, a zigzag span over a large swampy area.

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  • An industrial-era water tower, adorned with eyes some years ago by volunteers and well-known as the Owl, keeps an eye on things. Ijams is known for its “owl prowls.”
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  • Mead’s Quarry itself, filled with water for decades, is an attractive fishing spot.
  • In a once-forgotten forest in a an even longer-forgotten quarry site, signs of new activity: a temporary banner for last month’s Outdoor KnoxFest, and a permanent marker describing the site, under the heading “Nature Takes Over.”
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  • It may be an irony that nature’s popularity is most obvious in the parking lots that access it; Ijams’ administrators say they have never been so busy as they are this year.
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  • One of the most interesting aspects of Ijams’ recent expansion, in the Ross Quarry section, is a peculiar structure known as the Keyhole. Constructed during the industrial era for purposes unknown, it’s Knoxville’s modern stonehenge. Huge limestone blocks, left there decades ago, make this different from other nature walks.
  • An old masonry train trestle, still used by CSX, is part of the Third Creek Bike Trail. Wooden bridges cross Third Creek itself, along this original section of the trail, ideal for contemplation. Now about 40 years old, this short stretch from just west of Tyson Park to the West High School area, between Kingston Pike and Sutherland Avenue, was Knoxville’s first greenway.
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  • Not all of Ijams’ patrons are hippies or extreme sportsmen; careful to avoid too much sun, ladies walk their grateful dogs.
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  • The professionally designed Knoxville Skatepark is located adjacent to Tyson Park. Yes, helmets are strictly required; a sign sternly warns of a $25 fine.
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  • A boy traverses the bike trail’s longest bridge, a zigzag span over a large swampy area.
  • Especially popular among UT families, Tyson Park’s playground stays pretty lively.
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  • Men fish near the mouth of Third Creek.

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