It has been almost two years since I last viewed the gateway to the Baker Creek Trails at the end of James White Parkway. The occasion was Mayor Rogero’s final State of the City address. The promised entrance to the Baker Creek Preserve was little more than a few soggy trails and a dream.
That isn’t the case any longer. While the entrance isn’t officially open, it’s easy enough to walk (or bike) under the overpass and follow the trails through to the Baker Creek Preserve and access to the Urban Wilderness. What you’ll find along the way are fun bike trails with lots of rises and drops and a few banks.
Beyond that are rocks for riding, more trails and a park, all leading through to the entrance to Baker Creek Bike Park at Baker Creek Preserve. With the intention of constructing a sustainable, year-round park, the project was awarded to local engineering firm CEC, trail design firms IdeRide and C2 recreation, and local construction firms Charles Blalock and Sons and Contour Trail Designs.
Priorities for the project included multiple trails suitable for all skill levels. The trails need to be durable and to require little maintenance. The result included two asphalt pump tracks, a large track with steep features for more skilled riders and a beginner track for younger and less experienced riders.
The area outside Baker Creek Preserve includes three jump lines, two made of asphalt and wooden wall rides and another built of compacted stone. The day I walked over, it was covered with riders and the parking lot was overflowing. The buildings on the site, formerly Sevier Heights Baptist Church, are also being developed. The photographs here are from the path leading from the entrance to the park through to the preserve.
A greenway is planned from downtown across the South Knoxville Bridge, making the connection from downtown to the Urban Wilderness a seamless transition easily accomplished via bike or on foot. It’s really hard to overstate what this can and already does mean to the city in terms of potential tourism. To be able to visit a delightful small city from which you can hop on a bike and ride directly onto wilderness trails is pretty amazing.