Knox County officials and the Legacy Parks Foundation marked the opening of the new Harrell Road Park and Beaver Creek Water Trail Friday.
Harrell Road Park is the county's first stormwater demonstration park, and will be used to teach stormwater management practices. It has two constructed stormwater wetland ponds, a rain garden, native vegetation, a three-quarter mile walking trail and a kayak and canoe launch that connects to the Beaver Creek Water Trail.
The Beaver Creek Water Trail is a five-mile stretch of Beaver Creek, running from Harrell Road Stormwater Demonstration park to the Northwest Sports Complex. People who want to paddle should drop a car off at the Karns Senior Center, to use at the end of the water trail
Knox County Department of Engineering employees have spent several years clearing debris jams and constructing the ramp so small boats can access the creek.
Dennis Irwin with Knox County Stormwater said the creek has several small rapids and lots of nature for paddlers to view.
"It's right in our backyard, so you don't have to go anywhere to do it," Irwin said.
He is among the volunteers with Knox County Stormwater and the Karns Kayak Club, who removed some two dozen debris jams in recent years.
They're not only an inconvenience to paddlers - big jams requre kayakers and canoeists to get out and portage around the aquatic blockade - but they can also cause backups in heavy rains.
"It would raise the water levels and increase the flooding upstream," Irwin explained.
The Beaver Creek Water Trail is a mix of light rapids and peaceful, placid water.
Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks, said she hopes the boat launch at Harrell Road Park makes paddling more accessible.
"That's a whole initiative Legacy Parks and Knox County Stormwater, is to create greater canoe and kayak access to Beaver Creek. There's a whole group paddling this right now, so we want to increase that access," she said.
If you're paddling the water trail, be prepared to get wet and to walk.
The end of the five-mile water trail isn't well marked - a possible improvement the county could make, in addition to a paved take-out point.
The Karns Senior Center parking lot is a short trek through a field.
"Unless you drive your truck down through the field, you got to drag your boat about 50 yards or so," Irwin explained.
But if you're up for an adventure, it's worth the hike.
Kayaks can be rented at local outdoor outfitters.