The 100-acre property donated to Legacy Parks Foundation by the Wood family in 2013 is quickly transforming into a destination for outdoor adventures. The property at 1516 Taylor Road in south Knoxville has now been named “Baker Creek Preserve” and will open this spring as a major addition to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.
“We want to create a unique and special place with the property,” explained Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans. “The term “preserve” designates an area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna, or other special interests. This property has a beautiful little creek, giant sycamore trees and other native plants, wildlife, and incredible views – it truly is a preserve in that we hope to enhance and create access to all of the natural assets.”
Work began this week on construction of the competition-style downhill mountain bike trail funded by the $100,000 Bell Helmets grant awarded to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC) after a nationwide competition. The downhill trail adds to the nearly seven miles of additional trail funded by a $200,000 grant from TDEC to Legacy Parks.
The new trails provide hiking and biking opportunities for beginners to extreme adventure mountain bikers and include five multi-use, two-way trails, and three designated mountain bike downhill trails for more experienced riders.
“Knoxville has a reputation for excellent, purposely built trails that can accommodate hikers and bikers of all levels. We have had some of the best trail builders in the county help design and build these newest trails,” said Brian Hann chair of the Legacy Parks Trails and Greenways Task Force and past president of AMBC. “Excellent trail design and construction leads to easier trail maintenance and a great experience for the trail user.”
In addition to the trails, a grant from the Siddiqi Foundation allows Legacy Parks to begin to incorporate areas for play at Baker Creek Preserve. Earthadelic, a local landscaping company, is donating their time and expertise to enhance the entrance to the property and create a play area utilizing materials found on the property and other natural elements. Adjacent to the play area will be a kids-only bike loop to introduce the young to mountain biking. This play area takes advantage of a remnant piece of TDOT land.
“TDOT has been great to work with on this project,” said Carol Evans. “They understand the importance ofoutdoor recreation in Knoxville and are using this greenspace to benefit our community.”
A partnership with the Knoxville Garden Club will open up Baker Creek to better viewing and access. Volunteers participating in the statewide “Weed Wrangle” last weekend cleared the invasive species that disrupt the ecological balance and prepared the site for a new trail to parallel Baker Creek.
Baker Creek Preserve will connect into the existing 42 miles of trail in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness by way of a pedestrian bridge across Redbud Road. The bridge is funded by grants from REI to both Legacy Parks and the ABMC, and private donations.
This week, Baker Creek Preserve will be connected to South Doyle Middle School near the preserve entrance through a project of the Professional TrailBuilders Association during their national conference in Knoxville. The association provides a legacy trail project in every community in which their conference is held and Knoxville’s trail will connect the middle school into the Urban Wilderness and adjacent neighborhoods. The trail, with a small bridge over Baker Creek, will create a recreational amenity and a safe walkway to the school.
“It’s great to see increasing momentum for the Urban Wilderness and our reputation as an outdoor tourism city,” said City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “We’re grateful to Legacy Parks and everyone involved fortheir part in enhancing the Urban Wilderness with projects like the Baker Creek Preserve.”
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 at a wide-open meadow between the two ridges, and Pappy’s Way, the trail up to Pappy’s Point, is in thanks to the property donor.
This area of south Knoxville is already known for its interest in protecting its natural resources. In November of 2013, the adjacent South Woodlawn Neighborhood Association received certification from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as the first and only Community Wildlife Habitat in the state of Tennessee. The NWF program gives national recognition to neighborhoods and communities that strive to protect water resources and preserve green landscapes.
The Baker Creek Trails are set to open later this spring and additional amenities – including bike park features and adventure play structures – are planned.