With fall in full force, here are our top 5 picks for peaceful spots to reflect and be thankful this season. You will find quieter parks with great spots to sit or have a picnic, as well as places that highlight the beauty of East Tennessee, a magical place we are so thankful to live in.

Collier Preserve

This 12-acre natural area in the heart of Powell is a popular community park and state arboretum, with access to scenic Beaver Creek and the opportunity to observe wildlife in a natural setting. The county park includes a rubberized walking trail, a kayak rest stop on Beaver Creek, native plantings and a storybook trail. You will find quiet benches to reflect and watch the wildlife, including a secluded birding platform.

Knoxville Botanical Gardens

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is located on 47 acres featuring walking trails, historic horticulture and over two miles of distinctive stone walls and timeless buildings. Some highlights to explore include the Secret Garden, the Bamboo Forest and the historic Martha Ashe Garden. You will find a diverse collection of gardens offering quiet nooks to reflect and enjoy nature in this hidden gem just five minutes from Downtown Knoxville.

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Seven Islands is a beautiful state park about 20 minutes east of Downtown Knoxville. The park was created on former farmland along the French Broad River, offering a pastoral setting in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Enjoy a calm hike through the rolling hills and enjoy a glimpse into the history of our region. Marveling at the beauty of East Tennessee makes it easy to be thankful for the place we call home.

Melton Hill Park

Bordered by the Clinch River, Melton Hill Park is a top choice for taking a peaceful walk or hike. The 112-acre park features grassy meadows and rolling hills with miles of trails weaving through the park. And you might want to pack a lunch — there are plenty of scenic riverview spots for enjoying a picnic. You can walk, run or bike along the half-mile paved greenway or enjoy more than three miles of natural surface trails that wind through the woods and meadows. The wooded trail winds through the forest, skirting the shoreline with occasional spurs that take you to the waterfront.

House Mountain

Only 30 minutes from Downtown Knoxville, the House Mountain trails lead you up a fairly steep ascent to Knox County’s highest point, featuring overlooks from the 2,100-foot crest. The 5.8 miles of trail are moderate in difficulty as you climb through heavily wooded terrain dotted with impressive rock outcrops. During fall and winter the views are magnificent, without leaves to obscure the mountain ranges some 30 miles away. At the summit, the Crest Trail stretches the length of the mountain from the West End Overlook to the East Overlook offering exceptional views on both sides. The West End Overlook presents views of the Cumberland Mountains to the north, the Smoky Mountains to the south, and a glimpse of downtown Knoxville on the horizon. The views from the East End Overlook feature the Clinch Mountain range which runs northeast all the way into Southwest Virginia. Along the Crest Trail, you will find a perfect spot to rest and reflect on how far you’ve come.