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A Traveler's Guide to Hiking in Knoxville


If you visit Knoxville, you will find plenty of things to see and do during your stay. These vary from museums to historical landmarks, and from family attraction to dining out in excellent restaurants. It is also a wonderful place to spend some time if you enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, as the city has plenty of urban trails, and there are rural trails surrounding the city. Here is a traveler's guide to hiking in Knoxville.

Imerys Trail

According to Roots Rates, Knoxville's best trail is the Imerys Trail, as this has something for everyone. There are miles of trails and several points to enter the tail, although the main starting point is at Meads Quarry. You will see all sorts of people using this trail, including hikers, mountain bikers, couples enjoying the pretty surroundings, and families heading towards the lake. The Imerys Trail is the starting point for several other trails, including the Turnbuckle Trail and the Marble Quarry Loop.

Tharp Trace

Another popular trail in Knoxville is the Trail. Although this trail is only short, it is relatively steep, which some people may find challenging. It is a thin path that takes you up a cliff behind Quarry Lake. You can take a detour from the main trail to see Old Stanton Cemetery. On a clear day, there are views of Mount LeConte.

Ijams River Loop

There are several trails at Ijams, although the most popular is the Iams River Loop. This trail begins at the Ijams Visitors Center, then takes you along the North Cove trail until you reach the River Loop trail. Most of the trail is along a boardwalk along the Tennessee River, and you will pass Maude's Cave. The next section of the trail heads inland until it connects with Will Skelton Greenway and leads back to the visitors' center.

The South Loop

The South Loop connects 40 miles of trails and five wilderness areas that are collectively known as the Urban Wilderness. The South Loop is 12.5-miles long, and it is an easy to moderate trail. Most sections of the trail cover natural surfaces, but some sections take you along roads and sidewalks. This trail is a good option for people that like to spot wildlife during their hikes.

I.C. Kings Park

If you want to enjoy a great hike without leaving the city, then head to IC King Park. Within the park, there are easy, scenic trails that take you along Knob Creek. Some of the more challenging trails in the park take you through steep wooded ridges. In addition to hiking, the park is also a popular spot for mountain biking and trail running.

Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area

The best time to visit Forks of the River Wildlife Management Park is during the summer, as it is famous for its spectacular sunflower displays. However, it is a wonderful trail at any time of the year. One of the advantages of this trail is that it is not frequented too much by tourists, so it remains in pristine condition. On the southern side of the park, the trails take you through grassy hills, while the northern section of the trails goes through wooded and waterside trails. While the main trail goes around the park in a loop, there is a central section of smaller trails, which are popular with mountain bikers due to the varied terrain. The Forks of the River trail is a good option for birdwatchers and those who enjoy spotting wildlife.

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Seven Islands State Birding Park is known for the diversity of the bird species that call the park home, and it was the first birding park in Tennessee. It is also known for its vast array of flowers and wildlife, including deer. The park sits alongside the French Broad River, and the waterside trails take you through the groves and fields of the Seven Islands. Anyone who likes exploring the outdoors will enjoy hiking at Seven Islands State Birding Park.

Norris Watershed Trails

At Lake Norris, you will find more than 30 miles of trails. The trail system runs through both sides of Lower Creek Road, and there is parking available at Lenoir Museum. There are trails to suit everyone, as the trails include foot traffic only, non-vehicular multiple-use, and vehicular traffic multiple-use. According to the City of Norris, it is possible to hike on all these trails. Each of the trails is clearly signposted, and they vary in difficulty and length. The longest of the trails is Hi-Point Trail, which is 4.2-miles long. Several of the shorter trails are less than one mile.

House Mountain

For experienced hikers who like a challenge, one of the best places for hiking in Knoxville is House Mountain, which is the highest point in Knox County. Despite its close proximity to the city, the trail goes through dense forest. When you reach the summit, there are spectacular mountaintop views. The main trail takes you on a steep incline on the Mountain Trail, then over a level section called the Crest Trail, and then downwards along the West Overlook Trail. The upward section is the most challenging part of the trail. However, the views are worth making the effort.

William Hastie Natural Area

Outdoor Knoxville says that William Hastie Natural Area is a fantastic place to visit for people who enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. There are 6.3-miles of natural trails at this park, and these run through the densely forested areas that cover large areas of the 85-acre park. The trails vary from easy to moderate, with some covering flat ground and others traversing over small hills. Some also have switchbacks to navigate. In addition to the forested areas, there are many species of wildflowers. The park is open from sunrise until sunset.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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