South Knoxville gets biking trails, camping from The Drop Inn – Knoxville News Sentinel

For hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts, The Drop Inn will join the likes of Ijams Nature Center as a South Knoxville adventure destination. 
The 1,000-acre property features new trails that connect to some of the most popular spots in the Urban Wilderness, and its owners plan to add camping sites and public gathering spots next year.
Located at 4507 Sevierville Pike and east of Baker Creek Preserve, the property was purchased in 2021 for about $335,000 by founders Eva Millwood and Bryan Foster. Business partner Carter Miller joined later.
They started weeding out invasive plant species like wintercreeper and English ivy from the property as a conservation project before converting it into what they say is the city’s first urban campsite, located just within city limits but hidden in the forestry of South Knoxville. 
“So I think taking this from this like weedy, overgrown, invasive [area], … into a well-preserved nature area is just going to be one of the coolest things that we could possibly do with our lives,” Millwood said.
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On July 23, The Drop Inn opened two biking trails and two multi-use trails. They can be accessed from The Drop Inn property, Marie Myers Park or the Baker Creek Preserve. Combined, the trails span 1.43 miles.
“All of those will bring you into the bottom of the property,” Miller said. “So they all kind of funnel you into the campground area. And then you have a choice to go back to Marie Myers and Ijams, or you can go over to Baker Creek.”
Camping should open in 2023, with amenities like private campsites, a bathhouse, and a public pavilion. They developed the campsite idea after seeing Baker Creek Preserve visitors sleeping in their vehicles.
“It’ll be a campground in a private setting. So you will reserve your camp spots, come in, check in and camp,” Miller said. “And then the public amenity will be the bathhouse, pavilion area. So we’ll operate off of concessions, drinks, refreshments, hopefully hosting some events in the future, some educational events as well.”
Guests will be able to reserve one of 15 camping spots with parking and check-in online, although the cost has not been set. Visitors also can gain access to The Drop Inn through the trails. 
“What we really want is to have nice showers, the bathhouse, and the pavilion prior to having campers in here,” Foster said. “So maybe a few test campers to test things out, but breaking ground and completing, hopefully, spring of 2023 and then doing a soft opening soon thereafter.”
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Miller said they plan to build a stage to host events, weddings, and small concerts. Events will be held at the pavilion until that’s completed.
“It really is just a neat, natural amphitheater that would make for great small, acoustic music,” Foster said.
Millwood also wants to restore a year-round pond that used to be on the property. She said it drained into Mead’s Quarry in the mid-20th century.
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“The opportunity to be able to re-establish a wetland is a really special thing,” Millwood said. “And it’s going to take a lot of collaboration between a lot of different entities to make that happen. So, we’re in the exploratory phase of figuring out how to do that.”
They want to use the pond for educational purposes, meditative walks, and bird watching.
“You can come as a novice, you can come as an artist, you can come as whatever you’d like,” Miller said. “Just sit, hang out, and come as you are.”