UTOP Photo

Student taking part in UT Outdoor Pursuits' kayaking trip.

Tennessee is home to an array of natural sites and organisms, from the view of the Appalachian Mountains to the hundreds of species that live within the Smokies. However, for UT students who may not have a car or are simply inexperienced in the outdoor world, it can be difficult to know where to start when wanting to explore all that Tennessee’s nature has to offer.

Thankfully, UT Outdoor Pursuits is equipped with an array of programs created to help submerge students in the outdoor world. Here is some of what UTOP has to offer.

Water sports

UTOP offers several different trips that focus on water-based sports, including kayaking and rafting. UTOP currently has two white water rafting trips planned for the spring, which will take place in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Although both trips on March 28 and April 25 are currently at capacity, students can sign up to join the waitlist in hopes that spots will open up.

As for white water kayaking, UTOP currently has two trips planned for the spring--one on April 4 and one on April 26. There are currently 20 spots left for each trip.

All four trips cost $29 to attend.

Additionally, although trips are listed online, UTOP has led sea kayaking trips in the past. Keep an eye on their website for any future instances of such trips.

Biking

As with water sports, UTOP offers several different types of biking programs.

One of UTOP’s more leisurely biking events is coming up on April 1. During a program entitled Biking and Mindfulness, Vols are invited to take a bike ride around Sequoyah Park for just $5.

Additionally, UTOP will be hosting full moon bike rides at Cade’s Cove on March 9 and April 7. Both trips cost $10. Four spots are available for the March ride, and nine spots are available for the April trip.

UTOP also offers mountain biking programs from time to time.

Hiking and rock climbing

Seeing as UT is located just adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other outdoor wonders, UTOP naturally has an array of available hiking and rock climbing expeditions.

For those interested in camping in the mountains, look into UTOP’s backpacking trips. This upcoming weekend, UTOP will be leading one such backpacking trip into the Smokies. The trip will take place throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Seven spots are still available for the backpacking journey, and the trip costs $99.

UTOP also organizes shorter, cheaper day hikes. The next one will be held on April 19 in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The trip costs $12, and six spots are still available.

As for rock climbing in particular, UTOP leads day trips to outdoor climbing spots. This Saturday, UTOP will be taking climbers to the Obed Wild and Scenic River, and six spots are still open. Another trip will be held in the same location on April 5; nine spots are available for this trip. Both trips cost $22.

Custom trips

If you’re interested in spending time outdoors but aren’t intrigued by any of the above itineraries, look into building your own trip. UTOP offers gear rentals and is available to help students plan their own trips as well.

UTOP can also aid in planning trips that have a specific aim or goal, such as educational, leadership, recreational and technical trips.

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