Knox County now home to Tennessee's newest state park

Knox County now home to Tennessee's newest state park

Posted:
Tuesday marked the official grand opening of Seven Islands State Birding Park, located in East Knox County just off Kelly Lane in Kodak. Tuesday marked the official grand opening of Seven Islands State Birding Park, located in East Knox County just off Kelly Lane in Kodak.
More than 160 species of birds have been identified at the park. More than 160 species of birds have been identified at the park.
A number of new hiking trails have been added, including one that is ADA compliant. A number of new hiking trails have been added, including one that is ADA compliant.
Kodak, TN -  By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KODAK (WATE) - Knox County is now home to Tennessee's newest state park.

Tuesday marked the official grand opening of Seven Islands State Birding Park, located in East Knox County just off Kelly Lane in Kodak.

State and local officials gathered at Seven Islands Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening.

Previous story: Gov. Haslam announces Seven Islands to become state park

Prior to becoming a state park, Seven Islands, located along the French Broad River, was a wildlife refuge managed by the county. It is now the first state park in Knox County and the first-ever designated birding park in the entire state.

More than 160 species of birds have been identified at the park.

"Going to give folks the opportunity to come and explore birding, maybe for the first time. Or seasoned veterans of the birding activity will hopefully come here at the right time of the year and see birds they can't see anywhere else,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner with the state’s Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Hill says Tennessee State Parks is leaving most of Seven Islands as is, with its natural beauty. However, they have made some low-impact changes, all in an effort to make the park more accessible.

A number of new hiking trails have been added, including one that is ADA compliant.

"We need to be a healthier Tennessee. This is an opportunity for people to come out, walk around and enjoy nature. This is just a beautiful setting here,” said Hill.

Visitors can also access the French Broad River through a small boat launch that is perfect for canoeing or kayaking.

"What we're trying to do is give people access into the park so they can enjoy what the park has on its own,” said Hill.

The next goal is to access the largest island that is part of the park.

They want to connect people to the 30 acre island in the middle of the river with a pedestrian bridge.

Hill says the state hopes to make Seven Islands the place to go for outdoor enthusiasts.

"You get away from the hubbub of everything else and immerse yourself in this and it's really special,” said Hill.

New signs have been put up by TDOT along Interstate 40 and the roads leading to Seven Islands to make getting their easier as well.

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