One of the highlights of summer in Knoxville is visiting Forks of the River to see the sunflower fields in July!
Forks of the River Wild Management Area is located at 3140 McClure Lane and is open free to the public (even not during sunflower season, this is a great place to explore with hiking and biking trails galore). To get there head towards Ijams Nature Center on Island Home Pike and take the first left past it; McClure Lane, which you will follow until it dead ends at a gravel parking lot. You can park here for a short walk to the sunflower fields (you’ll see them as you are driving in).
The sunflower fields are planted every other year with odd years being blooming years. The sunflowers typically bloom in the middle weeks of July (between July 8th and July 24th). Sometimes the back fields are planted on even years (this was the case in 2020), but require about a mile walk down the Will Skelton Greenway to reach.
2021 Bloom Update: July 10th – Sunflowers have started to bloom and are expected to last about two weeks.
Visiting the sunflowers have become an annual tradition for us. I always offer sunflower mini sessions to my photography clients, and you’ll see many other families getting photos done at the flowers as well. Side note, my favorite outfit choices for sunflower photos include mustard yellow, orange, navy, denim, and cream.
That being said, there can be large crowds when the sunflowers bloom, especially during the golden hour (the hour before sunset) and on the weekends. To avoid large crowds, plan a sunrise visit to the fields or during the week.
Here are some personal photos from our visits to the sunflower fields.