: Wildlife Sanctuary Ijams Nature Center
Geographic Location: south side of
Length: 1.3 miles
Difficulty: 4/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: April 2013
Overview: A loop hike to the banks of the
Center Information: http://ijams.org/
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=173213
Directions to the trailhead: In downtown
Knoxville, enter south on the James White Parkway. After crossing the Tennessee River, take the first exit onto Hillwood Ave. Turn left on Hillwood Ave. Take Hillwood Ave. 0.5 miles to its terminus at Island Home Avenue and turn right on Island Home Ave. is 1.4 miles ahead on the left. Ijams Nature Center
The hike: Known to locals simply as the “Bird Sanctuary,”
(pronounced “eye-mms”) traces its beginnings way back to 1910. The center is named for Harry and Alice Yoe Ijams whose home site sits on the very western portion of today’s nature center property. Harry was known as Ijams Nature Center Knoxville’s leading bird expert, and Alice Yoe was known as the “First Lady of Knoxville’s Garden Clubs.” Harry Ijams is most famous nationally for the artwork he did to promote the during the early years of its existence. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
In the 1960’s, the Knoxville Garden Club, Knox County Council of Garden Clubs, and the City of Knoxville worked together to turn the Ijams property into a nature park that is open to the public. Today
remains a private not-for-profit organization, and the center’s 275 acres make a wonderful green oasis on the south bank of the Ijams Nature Center Tennessee River in the heart of suburban Knoxville.
|Trailhead: North Cove Trail|
0.2 miles into the hike, the North Cove Trail ends at an intersection with the Discovery Trail, which heads left, and the River Trail, which continues straight. The Discovery Trail makes an interesting side trip to a lotus pond with a short boardwalk, but this hike will continue straight on the River Trail to get to the main attraction. As you would expect from the trail’s name, obstructed views of the wide Tennessee River soon appear through the trees on your left.
At 0.4 miles, you reach the riverside boardwalk that makes
famous. The wooden boardwalk clings tight to the sheer rock bluffs on the right with the river now in full view to the left. When I hiked this boardwalk on a warm late Saturday afternoon in mid-April, two kayakers were paddling downstream while a paddlewheel-style party boat rocked its way upstream. Bats are known to live in the caves under these rocky bluffs, but I did not see any on my visit. The boardwalk’s location on the outside of a wide river bend makes it a good place to observe river activity, so stay for awhile and see what you can see. Ijams Nature Center
|Boardwalk on River Trail|
Back on the River Trail, the trail heads for the extreme northeast corner of the sanctuary where, at 0.8 miles, it curves sharply right as an industrial area comes into view straight ahead. Now climbing gradually, the trail follows an ugly power line clearing for 0.1 miles to arrive at a trail intersection. The Toll Creek Loop exiting left provides a short boardwalk along its namesake creek, but this hike will turn right to exit the power line clearing and begin the Tower Trail.
|Intersection with Toll Creek Trail|
|Passing the "tower"|