With 950 acres, Warriors Path is one of the most popular recreational destinations in the state, bringing in between 2 and 2.4 million visitors every year. The park offers miles of trails for hiking and biking, several options for boating and fishing, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, Boundless Playground, golf course, campgrounds and horse stables.
In addition to regional and out-of-state visitors, Warriors Path often has people visiting four or five times a week to walk, jog, fish, bring children to the playground or enjoy an afternoon picnic. Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with no admission cost, the park is perfect for both early birds and night owls.
Park Manager Sarah Leedy has been with Tennessee State Parks for 21 years and almost four at Warriors Path. She explained the upgrades and renovations at the park will consist of four main projects:
1) Upgrading the water main.
The water main is going from a 2- and 4-inch line to a 6-inch line in order to accommodate the sprinkler system in the new marina. It might not be the most exciting part of the project, but it is necessary in order to have adequate fire protection for the new structure, Leedy said.
2) Building a new marina and demolishing the old one.
Leedy said the new marina will be built in the parking lot next to the existing building. The old marina will then be demolished. A new dock with covered slips will also be built, providing protection from the elements while allowing folks easy access in and out of the paddle boats.
3) Transforming the recreation hall on Duck Island into the park headquarters and visitors center.
Since much of the activity at the park takes place on Duck Island, it’s only natural to relocate its headquarters to the recreation hall, Leedy said. The game room will become the building’s rental space, the current auditorium will be office space for administration and the lobby will remain a lobby, but with a new gift shop. The restrooms will be reconfigured so the public can use them even when the rest of the building is closed.
The most useful part about this phase of the project, Leedy said, is that the main office will be located in the heart of the park, where most people gather.
“Our current headquarters is a nondescript gray building at the entrance to the park, and you don’t even notice it really,” Leedy said. “It’s a strange entrance to the park anyway, and by the time you get through the intersection, you’re past it before you even realize it.”
4) Modifying the campground to accommodate larger campers and motor homes.
After years of study, customer service surveys and budget analysis, state officials have realized the campground at Warriors Path has been outgrown by the RV industry. Today’s campers are simply bigger and require more power and larger sites. This phase of the project aims to meet those needs.
“We’re going to renovate what is currently the overflow area (and used for primitive tent camping) and upgrade it to full service, larger hook-ups,” Leedy said. “Modern RV trailers and motor homes will be able to get in there easier than they can in our current campground.”
The state has earmarked $6 million for the project with work likely beginning in the spring of 2020. Leedy said she plans to turn the existing headquarters into an education center, providing dedicated space for Ranger Marty Silver and the programs the park offers.
Though the space for primitive tent camping will be going away, Leedy reminds campers that tents are allowed at any of the park’s campsites. The campground store will remain, and there are no changes slated for either the pool or the playground.