From downtown Knoxville: Take I-40 East to Exit #402, Midway Rd. Turn right onto Midway Road (going toward Three Rivers Golf Course). Pass by Curtis Road and Smith School Road. Turn left onto Maples Road (note: at the one mile point, Midway bears left). Watch for the green refuge signs. Turn right at the intersection with Kodak Road. Turn left on to Kelly Lane at the large, white Bethel Church. Kelly Lane takes you to the gate. Parking is available in a lot to the right. A map of the refuge is posted at the entrance.
Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary with recreational use by the general public. The 317-acre passive park on the banks of the French Broad is an idyllic refuge for paddlers, swimmers, bird watchers and dog walkers.
The refuge is managed for use as an area for hiking, observation & other forms of low-impact use; as a small boat launch for canoes and kayaks; as an educational facility; and as a demonstration area for land use and habitat management techniques. Habitats include wooded hills, an intermittent stream, and several fields being restored to native warm-season grasses.
A paved road extends over a mile into the property creating a prime birding route. Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge is an excellent birding location yearround. Permanent residents which can be found here include wild turkey, northern bobwhite, eastern screech owl, pileated woodpecker and eastern meadowlark. Bald eagles can be seen soaring over the refuge at any time of year. Plan on spending at least three hours of birding time here to cover the various habitats. Mornings, as usual, are best, but even during the middle of the day you can still expect to find most of the birds. Visits here during the last few hours of daylight can be quite rewarding as well.
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