Hikers in Knoxville frequently focus their attention on the Great Smoky Mountains, which provide stunning views and densely forested routes. However, if you know where to search, you may have a fantastic outdoor experience much closer to home. A lovely bird sanctuary is located to the east, mountains and lakes are located to the north, and a large Urban Wilderness is located in the center of South Knoxville. We’ll take care of you with these walks near Knoxville, whether you’re short on time, gas, or just want to get in touch with the scenery right in your own backyard.
The endlessly flexible Imerys is one of Knoxville’s most popular paths. Young families headed down to the lakeside, mountain bikers setting out for the downhill flow path, and trail runners squeezing in a few miles after work are all likely to be seen at the Meads Quarry parking lot where the trail begins.
Hikers can branch off to the Ross Marble Quarry Loop or take the Turnbuckle trail to William Hastie and Marie Myers Park farther in. If you keep walking along the Imerys, you’ll emerge from the forests onto enormous limestone hills before the trail returns you to the canopy. You can either follow the fork toward Burnett Ridge or continue on to the park’s exit, about 1 mile from where the walk began.
Tharp Trace, a tiny path that climbs up to the cliffs behind the quarry lake and back down on the other side for a short but steep 1.1-mile trek, is another wonderful trail accessible from the Mead’s Quarry parking lot. On a clear day, you might be able to view Mt. LeConte from the lookout atop the cliffs, and on a slight diversion from the walk, you can visit the Old Stanton Cemetery.
Forks of the River
Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area has received much praise for its spectacular summer sunflower display, but the park is far less crowded for the majority of the year than adjacent Mead’s Quarry. This is great news for the trails, which remain clean and litter-free, and, of course, for you. Hikers can travel from the park’s northern end, through densely wooded waterside trails like Auggie’s Run, to the Dozer section’s rolling grassy hills in the south. A network of trails, primarily utilized by mountain bikers, runs through the heart of the wildlife management area. This inner-network passes through open fields, hardwood forests, and hedgerows, all of which are teeming with wildlife and songbirds.
With lush woodlands and peak views unique this close to the city, House Mountain is possibly Knox County’s best hiking destination. House Mountain, located 10 miles northeast of Knoxville, rises over nearby Corryton and is the county’s highest point. The primary circuit leads you up the steep Mountain Trail, then southwest on the Crest Trail, then back around to the beginning via the steep West Overlook Trail. However, after you reach the top of the Mountain Trail, we recommend turning right down the Crest Trail’s northeast leg before continuing down its southwest end. The northeast region of Knox County features some of the nicest views.
I.C King Park
Hikers looking to get in a few miles without leaving the city may enjoy this city park’s waterside refuge. Easy picturesque routes circle the water’s edge at Knob Creek at I. C. King Park, while more arduous options lead hikers to the tops of wooded ridges. Because of its occasionally challenging terrain, the park is popular with mountain bikers and trail runners, but anybody may spend an hour or two exploring this Knoxville gem.
Ijams River Trail
The Lake Trail is probably the most popular hike at Ijams. Hikers can take the North Cove trail down to the River Trail proper, where they’ll eventually climb onto the boardwalk and pass Maude’s Cave on the Tennessee River, starting at the Ijams Visitors Center. The trail then turns right, moving inland, and finally reconnects with the Will Skelton Greenway, a paved walk that runs parallel to Island Home Avenue and leads back to the Visitors Center.