KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After extensive flooding damage in 2019, the north side of the River Trail is reopening at Ijams Nature Center along with a new section of the River Boardwalk.
The public is invited to attend the reopening on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the intersection of North Cove Trail and River Trail behind the Ijams Visitor Center. Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker and Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon will speak. Then, attendees will be able to explore the new trail. It can only be accessed by foot and includes significant inclines. The total length is about one mile.
In February 2019, a large section of the River Trail was washed away during flooding. During the closure, the boardwalk was still open but could only be reached by the opposite side of the trail.
“We brought together government, commercial and nonprofit partners, as well as individual members of this community, to develop a plan to restore one of Ijams’ most visited and beloved places,” Parker said. “This was a major project with many nuances, and it would not have been possible without their contributions.”
Ijams staff and volunteers used the planning time to begin removing invasive species from the area. This opened with the view to the river and allowed native species to repopulate. A new section of the trail further from the river’s edge was also created by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club.
The next step was to place a support system on the side of the cliff. According to Ijams, this required a barge company and had to be done from the water. However, with all of the flood damage and other work that needed to be done, the waitlist was long. In June 2022, Knoxville Barge, Inc. was able to drive pilings into the cliff to offer support for a new section of the River Boardwalk connecting the trail and the existing boardwalk.
Ijams shared that another company, Earthadelic, took on the rest of the project. This involved construction on a cliff face and connecting the new construction to the existing boardwalk. The work was finished in early October.
According to Ijams, Don Niday designed and built the original wooden structure in the mid-1990s. The cost of the project was covered by the City of Knoxville and an individual donor.