I’m back! I took a brief break from blogging to celebrate my sister getting married this past week; it’s good to be back in the blogosphere with our Homecare Advocate readers!
Those of us in the Tennessee Valley have a special appreciation for Earth Day as we are nestled at the base of the Smoky Mountains with access to lakes, rivers, and beautiful blooms. Some seniors fear that their instability or weakened endurance may prevent them from experiencing the great outdoors, so Homecare Advocate is bringing you senior-friendly nature spots you should definitely check out!
Here are our Top 10 Senior-Friendly Nature Spots in and around Knoxville that you can enjoy this weekend, compliments of Mother Earth & her helpers who preserve its beauty.
10. Norris Lake
With over 700 miles of shoreline, Norris Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in North America and is run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. This massive reservoir was established in 1936 and crosses into 5 counties. Explore the lake via boat from one of the well-kept marinas or by visiting one of the 59 public access sites.
9. The Cove at Concord Park
Nestled in West Knox County, The Cove offers 500 acres of outdoor activities for the entire family. Stroll along the .35 mile paved walking trail or the 8 mile nature loop, then enjoy lunch in one of the picnic areas overlooking the water. A playground, volleyball court, marina, fishing area, and beach for swimming are available to the public, and River Sports Outfitters offers canoe & kayak rentals on location.
8. Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge
The Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a 360 acre wildlife refuge located along the French Broad River in Knoxville. Known for its birdlife, the Spring is a particularly eventful time of year during migration. The refuge has a one mile paved road, hiking trails, and a boat launch for kayaks and canoes.
7) Little River Road
Perfect for a day drive, the 18 mile Little River Road offers picturesque views of the mountains, wildflowers, the creek, and waterfalls from Townsend to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Consider pulling over at one of the 7 marked stops, such as Metcalf Bottoms for a picnic, or “The Y” for a dip in the cool, calm waters of The Little River.
6) University of Tennessee Arboretum
A short drive from Knoxville, located in neighboring Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the 250 acre University of Tennessee Arboretum. Miles of walking trails enable you to enjoy the over 800 species of plants and trees grown at the Arboretum for educational purposes.
5) Dogwood Trails
Over 60 miles of dogwood trees and flora await you along the many Dogwood Trails in Knoxville. These paved trails are often in established neighborhoods and along beautiful roadways and are accessible via vehicle, foot, or bicycle. Visit the Dogwood Trails Web site for addresses of residential open gardens open from 10am-5pm daily and a listing of public gardens throughout Knox County.
4) University of Tennessee Gardens
Conveniently located off of Neyland Drive by the Tennessee River are the well-kept University of Tennessee Gardens. Over 1,400 species of plants grow here throughout the year, serving as an educational tool on pants appropriate for our climate and how to landscape accordingly. In addition to the beautiful flowers and plant life, the University also hosts events here open to the public throughout the year.
3) Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum
This historic garden was originally established in the 1700s as Howell Nurseries and offers 44 acres of walking trails, gardens, unique stone walls, and more. The Knoxville Botanical Garden is maintained by the City of Knoxville and is open year-round for the public. My sister held her wedding here, and the blooms were absolutely stunning last week. One note of caution: the gardens are not fully handicapped-accessible, so please be mindful of the terrain and any possible obstacles.
2) Ijams Nature Center
For fun outdoor learning, visit Ijams Nature Center adjacent to downtown Knoxville. It’s 275 acres boasts beautiful trails, meadows, gardens, and a learning center open daily to the public. In addition to the self-led outdoor nature walks, Ijams teaches “conservation and responsible environmental stewardship” and offers bi-annual native plant sales to the public.
1) Cades Cove
Located inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is a hotspot for visitors from all over the world. Explore its 6,800 acres via the 11 mile paved loop accessible by car, bicycle, and foot. Highlights of Cades Cove include is numerous historic buildings from the 1800s and wildlife spotting (including white-tailed deer and the occasional black bear).
May you find a way to enjoy this beautiful weekend; Happy Earth Day!