One of the best aspects of living in Norris is being so close to Norris Dam State Park -- it takes less than ten minutes to drive to the dam from the New Norris House. And although I haven’t tried it, you can walk from the community path on our property to the community center and get on the Norris Watershed Trail System which links to the state park’s trails.
Map from Outdoor Knoxville
I’ve spent many evenings exploring the meadows along the Song Bird Trail below the dam and hiking around the historic mill on Clear Creek. The Andrews Ridge trail system has views of the lake and is ideal for trail running, but my favorite place to explore is the River Bluff Trail on the west side of the Clinch River just below the dam. In just 3.1 miles, the trail passes through several plant communities as it climbs and descends the ridge across north, east, and south facing slopes. The many microclimates found along the trail are home to an impressive variety of spring wildflowers. The park even hosts wildflower walks every year around this time.
Here are a few examples of the many wildflowers you can see along the River Bluff Trail this time of year:
Cutleaf Toothwort, Dentaria laciniata
Yellow Trillium, Trillium luteum
Strange flowers of the Little Brown Jug plant, Hexastylis arifolia
Fernleaf Phacelia, Phacelia bipinnatifida
Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum
Not sure the species of this fern as its fronds were just unfurling from their winter sleep!
The New Norris House is a design/build effort from the University of Tennessee's College of Architecture and Design. Began in 2009, the home was designed and built by UT students in collaboration with Clayton Homes. The built project is now complete and the final phase of the project has begun. A team of 4 people (2 living in the home, and 2 graduate researchers) will rigorously document the experience via qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements, posting results to this blog.