Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ijams Nature Center: Mead's Quarry Natural Area

Today was a family adventure day. We loaded up the family truckster and headed down to Knoxville. We were even able to make the drive with out Sierra getting carsick! We drove to downtown where there was some sort of ethnic food festival going on. The crowds were thick and the lines long though, so we headed over to the Downtown Brewery for lunch. After filling our bellies (and letting Sierra play in the fountains) we made the drive over to Ijams Nature Center for a hike around Mead's Quarry.

We parked at the visitor center and walked a short distance on the Skelton Greenway to Mead's Quarry and Mead's Quarry Lake. We immediately got a really nice view of the interesting body of water
Meade's Quarry Lake
and then set off on our hike on the Tharp Trace. The first stop was a small, but interesting cemetery called the Stanton Cemetery which was apparently used to bury some of the quarry workers.
Stanton Cemetery
After a short break we were back on the trail for the climb up to the Mount LeConte Overlook. The overlook is so named because on a clear day Mount LeConte is visible, not so today with clouds and rain threatening for this evening. Still, there was a nice view high out over the lake.
Mt LeConte Overlook

The trail continued to climb a short distance after the LeConte Overlook and then started a really steep descent.
Noelle on trail
The descent was not as steep as on the Woody Ridge Trail yesterday, but with Sierra in the backpack it was tough. Luckily, it was over pretty quickly. We stopped at another, unnamed overlook for a bit and then continued on.
Noelle at overlook
As the trail leveled off we found a water tower disguised as an owl.
owl water tower
Sierra liked the tower a lot. She kept talking about the "owl tower" for the rest of the hike. Just past the owl tower was a side trail that led down to the lake and a nice overlook of not only the lake but two cave entrances.
from cave overlook
One entrance had a gate visible just inside the entrance, while the other had quite a bit of water flowing out of it. We admired the view for a bit and then retraced our steps.

Soon we found a small mural painted by a nearby school.
quilt mural
We then walked the short Pink Marble Trail,
Noelle and goldenrods
with a few more nice views of the lake (and the people out paddling on it)
SUP on lake
back to the start of our loop around the lake. From there we walked the greenway back to the nature center.
girls on greenway
We looked at the animals inside, and also checked out the tadpoles and salamanders in the small pond outside, along with some wildflowers.
purple coneflower
white flowers
We headed back to the car for a snack before hitting the road for the drive back to Greeneville.
back at car

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