By Mike Steely
Want to visit a really unique group of parks right here in Knox County? You could take a day away from home and take the family to the various unique parks in northwest Knox County.
The most unusual of these many parks has got to be Harrell Road Stormwater Park. Donated to the county in 2008 by Legacy Parks the 11-acre site was formerly a derelict field prone to flooding and was often nothing more than a marsh.
Harrell Road Park is one of a kind. Totally reworked to help resolve flooding the former swamp was so improved that in 2018 the county park was awarded the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials Environmental and Conservation Award.
The “Award of Excellence” noted the park as a model of stormwater management practices for its rain gardens, wetland pools and riparian buffers. It is now a “sustainable and passive public park” and is located in the Karns community at 7221 Harrell Road, just south of Emory Road.
A recent visit to the park found a parking lot built with porous asphalt, pervious concrete and pavers that allow rain water to be absorbed back into the ground. A gravel pathway leads from the parking area around and through the park, past the retaining pools, and down to Beaver Creek. The 4,000 feet of path also has interpretive signs here and there and more than 100 trees.
You can get your exercise with walking laps on the short path there. At two points the path encounters the creek. At one point the path runs by a large lake below a large subdivision of houses where local residents and others fish or relax.
Harrell Road Park is also an input for local kayaks and canoes. The park is open from dawn until dark. The Beaver Creek Water Trail is a six-mile stretch starting at Harrell Road Park and ending at the Northwest Sports Complex, a mix of light rapids and placid water. You can find out more about the water trail on the Beaver Creek Kayak Club’s Facebook page.
Northwest Knox County is growing quickly with new homes and businesses. There are many parks in that portion of Knox County and you could start at Harrell Road Park and visit other parks in that area like Ball Camp Community Park, Ball Camp Soccer Complex, Guinn Road Park, Hickory Creek Park, Meadow Creek Soccer Complex, Melton Hill Park, Nicholas Ball Park, Powell Levi Park, Solway Park, Knox County Sportspark, U.S. Cellular Soccer Complex, and Walker Springs Park.
You can get lots of information about Harrell Road Park online at www.knocounty.org/parks/index.plp.