Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness expanded by 100 acres and five new trails today with the opening of the Red Bud Bridge and north ridge trails at Baker Creek Preserve.
The 100-acre property donated to Legacy Parks Foundation by the Wood family has been transformed into an outdoor recreational destination with nearly seven miles of multi-use and downhill mountain bike trails, a bike pump track plus an adventure playground under construction.
“We’re thrilled to not only expand the Urban Wilderness for recreational fun, but proud to connect schools, businesses, neighborhoods and neighbors with these trails. Our more than fifty miles of trail are an amenities for both residents and visitors,” Carol Evans, Legacy Parks executive director explained.
The Red Bud Bridge connecting the Baker Creek Preserve to the existing South Loop Trails was funded entirely by private dollars by Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. For the second year in a row, national co-op REI awarded grants to both organizations to underwrite a major portion of the cost of the bridge and to continue their commitment to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.
“REI is thrilled to see this lofty project come to fruition through the strategic efforts of Legacy Parks, AMBC, private donors, and the city. Knowing that a life outdoors is a life well-lived, REI is proud to support ongoing efforts by these organizations to develop places that will inspire the Knoxville community into a lifetime of outdoor adventure,” REI Outdoor Programs and Outreach Market Coordinator Nolan Wildfire stated.
The five trails on Baker Creek Preserve’s north ridge were funded by a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program grant from the Tennessee Department of Conservation. Three of the five trails are for both hiking and biking and include a virtually flat beginner trail. Two dedicated downhill mountain bike trails introduce a different style of trail into the Urban Wilderness trail system.
“Knoxville has a reputation for excellent, purpose-built trails and these new downhill trails provide a new type of ride for more experienced mountain bikers,” said Brian Hann chair of the Legacy Parks Trails and Greenways Task Force and past president of AMBC. “Baker Creek trails give riders the opportunity to progress from beginner rides to extreme rides right on the same property and within a network of over fifty miles of varied trail. Our Urban Wilderness now rivals any urban mountain bike destination in the country.”
June 17th Legacy Parks and AMBC will open three additional trails on the Baker Creek Preserve south ridge, including the competition-style downhill mountain bike trail funded by the $100,000 Bell Helmets grant awarded to AMBC after a nationwide competition.
Last month Legacy Parks opened the Cherokee and Baker Creek Trails across the street from Baker Creek Preserve connecting South Doyle Middle School into Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The trail construction was the legacy project for the Professional TrailBuilders Association when they held their national conference in Knoxville. These trails and boardwalk over Baker Creek create not only a recreational amenity for the students but also provide a safe walkway to the school.
Trail names at Baker Creek Preserve reflect the terrain and history of the property. Devil’s Racetrack and Floyd Fox pay homage to the days of moonshine in south Knoxville. The Barn Burner Downhill trail terminates at the location of the old barn on the property. Sycamore Loop winds through some of the largest native trees in the area. Cruze Valley Run descends into the valley located in the heart of the property in the wide-open meadow between the two ridges. Pappy’s Way treks up to Pappy’s Point and pays thanks to the property donor.