Walking in South Knoxville: Ross Marble Natural Area

Emily and I have made significant headway towards our goal of hiking all 40 miles of the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness trails.  Last weekend we did around four miles during our second visit to the Ross Marble Natural Area.
Ross 4
As you walk the trails here, through woods and within sound of running water, on paths bordered by wildflowers, it’s only the discarded blocks of marble that remind you of the Big Production that once went on here, back when Knoxville was called “The Marble City.”  Which is kind of the point:
Ross
As the sign above points out, the quarry is “a terrific example of how nature can reclaim itself if given the chance.”  And aren’t we all so lucky that the folks at Ijams have helped make that happen for us?
Ross 2
As the above sign states, most of this area is wild, unstructured, untamed, even with the reminders of Man’s interference:
Ross 2
Ross 14
As usual, for me, the wildflowers were the biggest attraction:
Ross 8
Ross 5
Ross 3
Ross 3
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I was also intrigued by the landscape.
Ross 8
We lived in South Knoxville many years ago, when the big kids were small, and one day on a whim I pulled into the Fort Dickerson . . . park? area? I don’t know what you would have called it back then, when it was still pretty sketchy.  But I was curious, and so we went to the overlook and got our first sight of a quarry lake.
I was amazed.  What was this magical place?  Here is was, a couple of minutes from downtown, and I had never even heard of it.  It looked to me like something in Scotland, maybe, but certainly not anything that belonged in Knoxville.  I used to love bringing people there to show them and they were always as enthralled and shocked as I had been.
Now Mead’s Quarry, adjacent to Ross, is super popular, with people swimming and paddle boating and crowds swarming.  And it’s beautiful too.  So as we headed down the path on our first visit to the Ross Quarry area, we were expecting to see another beautiful lake, and we were excited.
Ross 1
Ross 5
So let me go ahead and clue y’all in:  there is no lake.  We walked and walked and WALKED and I kept saying we must be getting close and then it was we must have missed it somehow . . . but what it turns out is that there is more than one kind of abandoned quarry, and although we didn’t find a lake, it was beautiful all the same, and also somehow otherworldly.
Ross 10
Ross 6
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Ross 16Ross 15
Ross 11
So take a walk in South Knoxville some time soon and expect surprises around every bend in the trail.
Ross 7
For more walking adventures, see below:
Walking in Knoxville
Walking in Downtown Knoxville
Walking in West Knoxville I
Walking in West Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV

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  1. August 17, 2014

    […] have changed in South Knoxville since those days, as you will know if you’ve read any of my posts on the Urban Wilderness and its trails, or as you may have heard on the news regarding the plans […]

  2. October 11, 2014

    […] was our third visit to the quarry; I wrote about the first two here.  It was such a perfect day for walking.  Even though we hiked almost four miles, plenty of it […]

  3. October 24, 2014

    […] Walking in South Knoxville V […]

  4. November 10, 2014

    […] Walking in South Knoxville V […]

  5. November 22, 2014

    […] Walking in South Knoxville V […]

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