Legacy Parks Treasure — Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is the East Tennessee region’s largest wildlife sanctuary with more than 410 acres of forests and fields, six plus miles of natural trails, access to the French Broad River and spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains and rolling farmlands. It is managed through collaboration among Knox County Parks and Recreation, Seven Islands Wildlife Foundation and Legacy Parks Foundation. We invite you to become a Friend of Legacy Parks where your donations help maintain and expand these incredible gifts of natural resources in our region!
What was once the old Kelly homestead, Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is now a prized Legacy Parks Treasure, forever preserved as a beautiful wildlife refuge. Both wildflowers and wildlife call this sanctuary home. You'll witness many varieties of songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl along the meadow trails and paved greenway. As you wander down to the French Broad River that's carved its route around the bordering cliffs, you'll pass by the old farmhouse along with a variety of old barns. For paddlers and anglers, there is a small canoe/kayak launch that provides access to the French Broad River.
Bicycling: To minimize wildlife disturbances and trail erosion, bicycles are restricted to the paved greenway that winds a one-way route down to the river. SIWR is a good start location for road cyclists that want to tour the backroads in the area. Ride back to Kodak Road then head in either direction sampling the very scenic farmland from a variety of connecting backroads.
Birding: At last count, there are over 170 species of birds that call the refuge home. See how many you might catch a glimpse of or hear a note of their song.
Paddling: From Kelly Lane, just before the parking area, an access road takes you to the canoe/kayak launch. When water level is high enough for paddling, Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge provides good blueway access. Scenic views of rising hills and pastoral farmlands border this wide river, broken by occasional islands and shoals. If you're new to paddling or don't have a canoe, the City of Knoxville's Parks & Recreation Dept, partnered with Ijams Nature Center, offers a canoe program that paddles the French Broad River down to the Tennessee River into the downtown waterfront.
Trails: Over eight miles of scenic mowed trails snake around the refuge, winding up the ridges and down to the waterfront. The paved greenway, sandwiched between picturesque open fields of wildflowers and farmland, provides occasional views of the distant Smoky Mountains. Starting at the parking area, the 1.2 mile route stretches down to the French Broad River passing by the old farmstead and several old barns. Trail map
Camping: Located adjacent to the French Broad River and the trailhead to the Refuge, the primitive camp site includes five tent platforms, three picnic tables and a fire pit adjacent. There is no electricity or bathrooms and campers must pack all trash. Reservations for a camping permit must be made in advance by calling Seven Islands at 865-318-3591.
City and County Parks Map
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