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10Explores: Paddling around Looney Islands on the Tennessee River

Need a new place to hit the water? An option for any skill level is a lap around the Looney Islands on the Tennessee River in West Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — We all know boat ownership (yes, that includes kayaks, canoes and paddleboards) went up during the pandemic as people looked for safe, socially distanced activities to do outside.

It's a year later, and summer is heating back up. You want to get back out on the water for the first time in a while, but where should you go? 

One option that's great for people of any experience level is a lap around the Looney Islands on the Tennessee River in West Knoxville. 

You can launch your boat, kayak, canoe or paddleboard from the boat ramp in the gravel parking lot near the Indian Mound on Cherokee Boulevard.

What a trip around the island looks like:

Depending on the time of day, you might need to wait your turn as there is only one boat ramp in the area.

For beginners, it takes about 20-30 minutes to make a lap around the island.

If you're more experienced or want the trip to last a little longer, you can venture past the island and continue down the river. Just pay attention to the current and make sure you have enough energy to make it back to the boat ramp.

RELATED: 'Water' you waiting for? Take a dip in East Tennessee this summer

Some tips before you hit the water:

  • Watch out for the shallow spot on the south side of the island. (Try to go around the wooden pole stick out of the water to avoid running aground.)
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Pack plenty of water.
  • Bring a life jacket.
  • Tell someone where you are going (and let them know when you're done).
  • Watch out for your fellow boaters and paddlers.
  • Keep an eye on the weather.
  • Use plastic bags to store any items you don't want to get wet.
  • Pick up after yourself and keep your trash out of the water.

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