The story below is an excerpt from our Jan./Feb. 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
At the end of a country road called Kelly Lane, in Knox County, you’ll find Tennessee’s newest state park, the Seven Islands State Birding Park, a 416-acre place where visitors may linger freely among hundreds of bird species. So far, 180 species have been identified by the birders and ornithologists who visit this natural Nirvana.
Seven Islands proper is located within a meander of the French Broad River, and although the formal name is Seven Islands, you would be hard pressed to locate seven islands nearby. The islands are built up from three shoals; Wesley Shoal, Seven Islands Shoal and Tuckahoe Shoal and vary in number depending on the height of the river. With a combination of wetland, woodland and grassland habitats the park features more than eight miles of natural trails, many with views of the Smoky Mountains. There is also a primitive campground and a small-boat ramp.
In the late 1800s this park was a farm, raising corn, peas and tobacco. The legacy buildings, sporting a handsome quilt pattern, are included in the Appalachian Quilt Trail. Eventually the land gained protection through the Legacy Parks Foundation. It was then deeded to Knox County to manage. In July of 2014, it was officially gifted to the State of Tennessee, which will manage it as a low impact, non-consumptive outdoor recreation site.
For details: tnstateparks.com/parks/about/seven-islands
Appalachian Trail Game Teaches Best Practices
As Mark Hanf of Marshall, North Carolina, hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail a couple of years ago, he encountered a shelter strewn with litter. He cleaned the site and packed the trash out. First angry, he soon reasoned that everyone hasn’t had the same type of low-impact training he’s had.
Soon, an idea was sparked: “What if there was a board game to learn the best practices for hiking and backpacking on the Appalachian Trail?”
Today, that dream is a reality with the creation of Thru Hike: The Appalachian Trail Game. Hanf and his team received a small grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to design a prototype. In July, they put it on Kickstarter and surpassed their $10,000 goal within 24 hours.
The board is a map of the entire trail from Maine to Georgia and each space represents 100 miles. Players move forward or back by answering trivia questions about how to hike the AT, identify pictures of animals and plants, and deal with emergency situations such as a snowstorm or a sprained ankle.
A portion of proceeds from each sale goes to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to help with trail maintenance. To learn more or to buy the game: theATgame.com.
–Marla Hardee Milling