Lake Mead’s Quarry in South Knoxville gets improved swimming

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There will be more space to splash and play when Mead’s Quarry Lake reopens for the summer this Memorial Day weekend.

A new floating walkway that runs along the edge of the Pinkston Pointe Rock quarry at the swim dock is nearing completion. The additional 250 feet of new space was funded by private donations and $100,000 from Knox County.

“It’s basically a floating shoreline so more people can access the lake to swim, fish and paddle,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said in an April 19 news release. “We invest in places where our residents can get out and connect with nature.”

The new floating walkway will be attached to the surrounding rock face and will be accessible to nature lovers visiting Lake Mead's Quarry in South Knoxville.

“It will be an amazing space for people to enjoy this summer, we wanted to give more people access to Mead’s Quarry and to do so safely,” said Amber Parker, executive director of Ijams Nature Center. “We knew we needed more space for people and we also knew it would be a good decision for us to do this around Pinkston Pointe Rock. We had a private donor who was willing to fund this effort.

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After installing a small section of floating dock last year, Parker monitored its use and shared its operation with Jacobs.

“Because of that, he said, ‘Let’s create more space on the docks and let the county help out.’ He promised additional funds to completely wrap all that rock with the dock,” Parker said. “It will allow for a lot more water access and swimming than that little beach at the end of the driveway. It’s just not comfortable for everyone, and the openness is even more family friendly.

The swim dock will allow people to walk along it and swim from it, Parker said.

“We’ll have ladders for them to climb up on, it really increases the swimming area.”

A new floating walkway is a joint project between Knox County Parks and Recreation and Ijams Nature Center and will provide up to 250 additional feet of usable space around the swimming area.

The original dock and restroom on the hill overlooking Lake Mead’s Quarry was built by Knox County Parks and Recreation to make the area more usable, Parker said.

“In the ’70s and ’80s, it was a dump,” Knox County Commissioner Carson Dailey said in an official video released by Knox County. “Now we have a great place for families to come swim, fish, canoe and paddle board.”

Construction crews still need to anchor the walkway to the nearby rock.

“Right now we’re waiting for parts that will allow us to attach the swim dock to the rock structure behind it,” Parker said. “It could be done before Memorial Day.”

River Sports opened boat rentals in time for the hot weather last weekend.

The new floating walkway was designed to provide greater recreational access to Lake Mead's Quarry and is expected to open no later than Memorial Day weekend.

Officials will hold a ribbon cutting for the new Grayson Subaru Ijams Nature Playscape at 10 a.m. on May 9.

“You’ll access it from the adventure park to the left of the quarry parking lot,” Parker said. “The natural play landscape is very different, and will be a new playground, especially for children to play more freely.”

River Sports Outfitters was due to open its boat rentals in time for warm weather on the weekend of April 23-24.

Signage will soon be installed and a trail is being established to take young adventurers from the parking lot next to Lake Mead’s Quarry to the new playscape.

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