May 23, 2018 Tennessee River Studio Initiative Becomes Regional Vision

TN River Trail images of outdoor activities

Help Name America’s Next Great Trail System __

In 2016, the UT School of Landscape Architecture’s Tennessee River Studio, led by Associate Professor Brad Collett, started investigating challenges to the Tennessee River.  Students and faculty toured the 652-mile stretch of the river from Knoxville, Tenn., to Paducah, Ken., to learn more about its challenges and how people along the waterway influence the river and are impacted by it.

Students’ work incorporated many aspects of stewarding the Tennessee River, and in particular, one product of that first studio was a proposal by student Journey Roth for a multi-modal, experience-rich trail system along that long stretch of river.

This idea has gained momentum.  Through outreach and education efforts by Collett and his students, the initiative has been adopted by many of the leading natural resource, tourism and education agencies and organizations in the watershed and across the nation, and now, the public is invited to help name America’s next great trail system.  Take the survey by May 28 to vote for your favorite name for the new trail and give your input about the experiences that might be incorporated along its 652-mile reach.

The trail will be a continuous, multi-modal system of trail experiences stretching along the Tennessee River from Knoxville to Paducah.  It will celebrate the beauty of the river, connect people to the water and each other and catalyze new investments in the watershed.

These efforts are harbingers of a broader vision led by the Tennessee River Trail Blazers Partnership.  This group is directed by Collett, who also continues to lead concept development for the initiative, and is supported by students in the Schools of Landscape Architecture and Architecture.  The mission of the partnership is to advocate for a shared vision for the Tennessee River, including the trail system, and steward the vision toward implementation.  Partners include


·         The Nature Conservancy

·         Tennessee Valley Authority

·         Tennessee River Valley Geotourism Stewardship Council

·         Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association

·         University of Tennessee School of Landscape Architecture

·         UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair for Energy + Urbanism

·         UT Chattanooga Interdisciplinary Geospatial Technology Lab

·         Tennessee State Parks

·         City of Knoxville

·         Lose & Associates

·         Paducah River Discovery Center

·         TN Aquarium


Additionally, the initial phase of trail planning and organizational development is being conducted with the assistance of the National Park Service through the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program.

Learn more about the students’ efforts:

River Tour

Tennessee River Project

Tennessee River Trail

Watershed Symposium_Ag


Watershed Visioning