Oak Ridge's geography, natural resources, demographics and infrastructure make it an excellent place for outdoor recreation.
Jon Hetrick, City of Oak Ridge's recreation & parks director, says the area is a hotspot for outdoorsy types because the region has a moderate climate. Locals are known to enjoy the outdoor landscape nearly year- round and especially from April through October. Not far away is Knoxville, which also has a strong and growing base of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, who venture over to explore the beautiful terrain.
A Community Mindset
Oak Ridge is also home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which attracts a well-educated population that values recreational opportunities. In Hetrick's words, “you’ve got a community really engaged in recreation.”
The city has worked to embrace and foster those values through its planning initiatives. Hetrick says there’s “lots of open space,” by design, which provides the ideal backdrop for such activities as hiking, bird-watching and biking. The city has done a masterful job of dedicating space for youth recreation, as evidenced by its 10 community playgrounds. Hetrick says one in particular stands out, because it was built entirely with recycled materials, with the help of about 300 volunteers.
The trails system alone is impressive. The City of Oak Ridge, with a population of about 30,000, boasts nearly 100 miles of trails. Particularly noteworthy are the “greenbelts,” smaller trails located in neighborhoods. According to the City, Oak Ridge has 48 greenbelt districts comprising approximately 1,566 acres of forested greenbelts that serve as buffers between neighborhoods and offer miles of shaded walking trails for residents.