Apr 22 2008
08:14 am

Knoxville News Sentinel:

A 17-acre addition to Knox County's Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge will be purchased this week by a private foundation set up to expand the area's public green spaces.

The article says the expansion will include a pedestrian bridge across the French Broad River.

Scott Frith is quoted as saying "It's all right here. We should settle for no less than being the cleanest, greenest, most beautiful city in America."

The Legacy Parks Foundation raised funds for the land purchase.

scottfrith's picture

Thanks, Randy. I'd encourage

Thanks, Randy. I'd encourage everyone (if you haven't already) to visit Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. I had never visited until getting involved with the Legacy Parks Foundation and, though I had high expectations, was quickly impressed. The diversity of wildlife, privacy, the quiet serenity of the French Broad River, and the remarkable views of the Smokies and surrounding ridges are unmatched in Knox County. There is a five mile long, unpaved walking path that travels around the refuge (and for a mile or so along the French Broad River). On a typical day at Seven Islands, you might not see any other visitors.

Pete Claussen has provided a remarkable personal example to all of us of the importance of giving back to the community and providing a legacy for future generations. The Legacy Parks Foundation enables all of us to get involved in promoting parks, green space, and the expansion of our greenway system. It's an exciting time.

Justin's picture

I cant believe I havent

I cant believe I havent heard of this until now. Its only about 13 miles from my house. I'm going to head up there this weekend. Do you know if you can bike around the path or just walk (pedestrian only)?

R. Neal's picture

Don't know if bikes are

Don't know if bikes are allowed, but it is bikeable. Parts of it are old dirt roads and such.

sean's picture

It is an amazing place that

It is an amazing place that seemingly changes aesthetic with each visit. The management team should be commmended on its sustainable approach. Along those lines, they do controlled burns of the native species, I believe each fall. Be sure to check it out if you have the chance! You may even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle.

scottfrith's picture


I'm not sure about bicycles. I'm confident they're not allowed on the trails; however, there is a closed road through the center of the park that might allow bicycle access. I'll send an email to the Parks folks and let you know.

S Carpenter's picture

This river, this park

Last year, my wife and I started paddling kayaks on flatwater. Our first few trips were on the French Broad from 7 Islands to the takeout on Kodak Rd about 5 miles down. By the end of the year, we'd been on that river at least 15 times.

Sitting in my boat looking downstream the first time, it appeared to be the same scene painted on the baptismal in the church where I grew up - serene, lush and mysterious. Particularly mysterious that it actually exists in Knox County.

In February, I bought a couple of used boats. Though still quite cold, we took them to Claussen Landing to try out. The "For Sale" sign was up on the land that has now been purchased for the park extension and, in fact, I inquired about it. The idea that it should be married up with the Claussen Landing property and provide a substantial "southside" to the rest of the park was obvious.

As we rolled into town yesterday, returning from a canoe and kayak festival in Charleston, I read this news with sheer delight. I can't express how happy this makes me for our community.

A thousand thank you's to those involved from the Legacy Parks Foundation and the French Broad Preservation Assoc.

M D F's picture


S Carpenter:
Thanks for your post. Where is the launch in Seven Islands? I am interested in doing more flatwater kayaking. Any other places in this area that you recommend? I've heard good things about Chilhowee Lake.
Many thanks,

S Carpenter's picture

Many rivers to paddle

Hi Mike,

Here are my Google maps of put in's and suggest paddling places in our area. I'm adding info every so often, so check back.

Here is the PDF of the French Broad Blueway. It's a gigantic but nice map w/ pretty good info.

Feel free to email me at rsc -at- w3st.com


scottfrith's picture

Very cool brochure! We went

Very cool brochure! We went from Seven Islands to Huffaker Ferry this weekend. It's just a great trip sure to give you a heckuva sunburn!

scottfrith's picture

Bicycle followup

Bicycles are not allowed in the refuge at this time. This issue might be revisited, according to Doug Bataille, when the pedestrian bridge is built.

Justin's picture

Thats a bummer. Thanks for

Thats a bummer. Thanks for asking/finding out.

R. Neal's picture

Sounds like you need to take

Sounds like you need to take up Kayaking!

Justin's picture

I thought about that. I

I thought about that. I havent done it before so I dont have a clue..I wonder if you can rent one around Ktown? Do you know where to start/end at on the river?

scottfrith's picture

Ed Mcalister at River Sports

Ed Mcalister at River Sports organized the Legacy Parks tour of the French Broad River. You can purchase kayaks at his location on Sutherland Ave. If you're just interested in a weekend trip, I just spoke with the River Sports staff and they'll rent kayaks for $30 a day or $50 a weekend. Canoes are comparably priced.

You can put your kayak/canoe in the water at Seven Islands and paddle downstream to a public access point at Huffaker Ferry (the location of the old ferry crossing on Kodak Road). Obviously, you'll want to leave one vehicle at Huffaker Ferry public access boat ramp to shuttle the kayaks back to Seven Islands. (If you're not familiar with this boat ramp, google map "Huffaker Ferry Road 37920" and look directly across the river to Kodak Road. The public access point is there.)

If Douglas Dam is not generating, you can easily make the 5.5 mile trip in 2 hours. If the dam is generating, and river is moving more swiftly, I'm sure it would take far less time.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me, scott@scottfrith.com


amy's picture

Seven ISlands is a wonderful

Seven ISlands is a wonderful place and yes, you will see Bald Eagles, red Tailed Hawks, Buzzards, and other wonders out there. Pileated woodpeckers abound (or they used to) and you can hear them for miles along the river.

I was raised two farms downstream from what is now the preserve. I used to ride my pony all over those hills and we would have to stop and wait in the ditch as the dump trucks went by. They used to dredge sand from the river there and the dump trucks hauled it out. My mother still lives on the farm where I grew up.

I've got many lovely memories of those hills and the river. I am so glad it has been preserved and left for others to make their own memories.

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