Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - 19

COUNTRY ROADS

Knoxville Urban
Wilderness on the Grow

BOOK NOTES

Baker Creek provides a focal point for a series of trails and other assets.

Terry Roberts. That Bright
Land. (Turner Publishing Co.,
2016). 322 pp.

B

C

aker Creek bubbles beside trails in the urban wilderness of Knoxville, Tennessee, on
the city's south side.
" The urban wilderness in Knoxville is a collection of parks, totaling about 1,000
acres, connected by trails and greenways, " says Rebekah Jane Justice, deputy chief of economic and community development for Knoxville.
In her previous role as Knoxville's Urban Wilderness Coordinator, Justice oversaw the
construction of Baker Creek Preserve, a sanctuary for walkers, runners and bicycle riders.
Baker Creek provides an entryway to Knoxville's collection of recreational areas within
the city, where you can play yet never stray too far from the concrete of the bustling East
Tennessee metropolis.
The 100-acre Baker Creek site came to the city about a decade ago as a land donation
by the Legacy Parks Foundation.
Later developed, it became a popular site for downhill mountain bike trails, Justice
says.
Recently, too, a mountain bike park-with obstacles for children, skilled riders and
experts-opened on nearly three acres with jump lines, rock gardens and wooden features.
" These are opportunities to build and develop skills, " Justice says. " We have jumps up to
expert levels. The bike park is a really great finishing touch. "
Baker Creek Preserve is still being developed, Justice says.
" It's the entry point, the jumping-off point for this whole system, " she says. " The community has really been engaged. We have a really good bike population in Knoxville-and
running-and they're really excited to see all of these elements come out. "
New restrooms and picnic shelters are to be added by the
close of 2021, Justice says.
" Baker Creek is a pretty unique park, " Justice says. " We've
The mountain
been
sure to make something for everybody. "
bike park offers
challenges for all
knoxurbanwilderness.com / 865-850-9160
levels of riders.
-JOE TENNIS

ould you turn down
reading a book that
starts like this?
In the summer of 1866 I went
down South to find and kill a
man. It's not what I would have
chosen, and when I first arrived
in the territory, I didn't want to
admit that's what I was about.
Nevertheless, I was well suited to
the task-by my past and by the
shadows it cast in my soul.
Based
loosely on
western North
Carolina's 1863
Shelton Laurel
Massacre, when
13 suspected
Union sympathizers were
executed by
Confederate
troops, the novel follows Union
veteran Jacob Vance as he seeks
out the murderer under cover as
a government employee interviewing veterans who qualify for
disability payment.
It's hard to drop this novel
neatly into a slot. You get a
good dose of grisly battle and
hospital scenes alongside lyrical
descriptions of the mountains;
men and women who can be
trusted and those who can't;
real murderers and ghost murderers.
When you're done with the
novel, and with the author's
notes, you'll be satisfied. Roberts
has a musical ear for language,
a painter's eye for mountain
beauty and a way of handing his
readers a " happy ending " that
feels hard-earned but deserved.
There's not much more a reader
could ask for.
-JOAN VANNORSDALL

MAY/JUNE 2021

19


http://www.knoxurbanwilderness.com

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021

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