Walking in Knoxville: A Guide for Hikers

Writing about hiking used to be a pretty big chunk of this blog.  Not so much lately, as I fell off the fitness wagon.  But fall is a great time for walking–it’s beautiful as well as cool.  So to inspire myself, and as a resource to any Knoxvillians or visitors, I’ve collected all my walking posts right here along with a brief description and picture for each.
Walking in East Knoxville: Welcoming Spring at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
It’s not Spring as I am writing this but I am absolutely sure that this unsung gem will have fall foliage and flowers to delight you.  Don’t wait for Spring!
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Walking in South Knoxville
This was my introductory post of many about the 40 miles of trails in the Urban Wilderness.

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View from the Ijams River Trail

Walking in South Knoxville II: The William Hastie Natural Area
One trailhead for this section of the Urban Wilderness is in the Lake Forest neighborhood where we used to live.  We were curious and went walking back here when it wasn’t even a thing.
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Walking in South Knoxville III:  Forks of the River WMA
These are hands-down my favorite trails in the system.
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Walking in South Knoxville IV:  Anderson School Trails
These fancifully named trails that wind along an easement through private land are Emily’s favorite.
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Walking in South Knoxville V: Ross Marble Natural Area
This area features the remains of a quarrying operation, almost like exploring exotic ruins.
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Walking in South Knoxville VI:  Fort Dickerson Quarry
This place is amazing.  You will forget you are in Knoxville.
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Walking in South Knoxville VII: In the Homestretch
Fall wildflowers along the Ross Marble Quarry trails and other autumn delights.
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Walking in South Knoxville VIII: Another One Bites the Dust
It’s back to the William Hastie trails with their shady hills and wildflowers.
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Walking in South Knoxville IX:  Forks of the River
There is something for everyone in this section of trails, whether you like woods or meadows, hilly or flat, dirt or pavement.
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Walking in South Knoxville X: A Quiet Walk at the Quarry
The Mead’s Quarry trail is challenging, but it will reward you with beautiful views.
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Walking in South Knoxville XI: A Belated Fall Roundup
A collection of pictures from a variety of trails.
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Walking in South Knoxville:  Success
Another roundup of trails and pictures, including some great views.
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Walking in Knoxville:  North, South, and Further South
This one is a bit further afield with walks in Norris and the Smokies included.
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Walking in West Knoxville
This is a collection of several great places to walk in South Knoxville, suitable to all skill levels.
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A May Stroll You Must Take
If you love the smell of honeysuckle, you’ll want to do this in the Spring, but if you are an architecture fan you will enjoy it any time of year.
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Short West Knoxville Walks
These aren’t pretty (comparatively) but they are good for exercise!
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Walking in West Knoxville:  The Jean Teague Greenway
This trail has the advantage of running right through a playground, where you can abandon your kids for awhile as you walk.
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Walking in Knoxville
This showcases the Pellissippi Greenway, which is at its best when the daffodils are in bloom.
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Two Walks
Finally, this is my very first walking post, laying out a nice hike that hits the high points of downtown Knoxville.
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I’ll continue to update this post with new hikes as I write them–I have a backlog which includes Baker Creek, House Mountain, and Haw Ridge, among others.
 
 
 

Walking in South Knoxville: Success!

So we did it!  We hiked all 42 miles of the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness!  And we have badges to prove it:
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We had just a few awkward pieces of trail to finish up to earn our badges, and we did it by walking the entire twelve-mile loop over three weekends, four miles at a time.  We are considering that as training for walking the whole 12 miles in one day, something we are planning to do in the near future.
We’ve seen the trails in every season now, and each has its charms.  I’ve always found something pretty to photograph–in fact sometimes my desire to take pictures has interfered with the keeping-my-heart-rate up part of walking!  I have a few more pictures to share with you from the main twelve-mile loop.
The first several pictures are from the section of the loop that runs through the Ross Marble area.  This section runs along Burnett Ridge and has some nice views of downtown.
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The next several shots were taken on the Victor Ashe Trail, which runs through Marie Myers Park and ends in the View Park neighborhood.  I wouldn’t walk on this trail again if I didn’t have to in order to do the loop.  It’s almost always muddy and just not as interesting as the other trails, although the bamboo tunnel at the end is a nice touch.
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The following pictures were taken along the Lost Chromosome Trail in the Anderson Schools/Private Land Easement area.
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And these were taken in the William Hastie Natural Area.
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Finally, here are a few final pictures of my favorite groups of trails, in the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area.
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And that’s all, folks!  When we do the 12-mile walk, I’ll write about that, of course.  But for now we are finished with the Urban Wilderness and are ready to share other hiking adventures with you.  In fact, I’m already behind in writing about those other hikes, some in South Knoxville and some further afield.
For more South Knoxville walking adventures, read the posts below:
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV
Walking in South Knoxville V
Walking in South Knoxville VI
Walking in South Knoxville VII
Walking in South Knoxville VIII
Walking in South Knoxville IX
Walking in South Knoxville X
Walking in South Knoxville XI

Walking in South Knoxville: A Belated Fall Roundup

As those of you who have been following me for a while know, my daughter Emily and I have been hiking the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness trails every Saturday for months, and I’ve been reviewing those trails for my readers.
I fell behind–not in hiking, but reviewing–during the Christmas/Birthday season.  I’ve written about all these trails at least once before anyway, but I still want to share the beautiful fall pictures with you.  I wish there was some safe way to hike them in the snow so I could get some winter pictures!
First up:  the trails of Ijams Nature Center.  These have been around the longest, and of course we had walked all of them many times before, from the time when I was carrying Teddy (who turned 20 yesterday) around on my back and chasing Emily and Jake.  They’ve added new trails since those days, but on this particular afternoon we were on the Discovery Trails, bringing back old memories.
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Next up are what I call the Anderson School Trails, although the official name is Private Land Easement.  You can park either at the TWRA Dove Field off Burnett Ridge Road or at the old Anderson School for this one.
The trails themselves are somewhat more cleverly named, however.
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We have enjoyed these trails so much!  I will be finishing up my final review of the Urban Wilderness trails in a couple more posts, and then hope to have new adventures to share.
For more Walking in South Knoxville stories, look below:
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV
Walking in South Knoxville V
Walking in South Knoxville VI
Walking in South Knoxville VII
Walking in South Knoxville VIII
Walking in South Knoxville IX
Walking in South Knoxville X
 

Forks of the River: My Favorite Trails

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Bear with me, y’all because there are going to be a LOT of pictures in this post.
Emily and I have walked on the Forks of the River trails five times, because there is a lot of territory to cover and also because we didn’t plan very well for the task of completing all the trails with the least repetition.  But I can’t say I’m sorry, because we’ve had the opportunity to explore the place in Spring, Summer, and Fall.
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There are wildflowers throughout the Urban Wilderness, but Forks of the River takes the prize no matter the season.
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But even in late fall, there is plenty of color!
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This area can also not be matched for its variety.  You can walk through meadows or in the woods.  Some paths are flat, but along the river bluff there are challenging climbs.
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Also of note are the beautiful views:
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As always, I encountered a few mysteries while walking here.  For example, it looks like this area was lived in at some point, judging by some plants you’d expect to find in someone’s garden:
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At first, I thought this cactus must have been cultivated as well.  But it turns out that prickly pear cactus is native to East Tennessee:
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Now that we’ve hiked almost every trail in the Wilderness, I can tell you that this area is my favorite.  It’s definitely where I would recommend you start if you are interested in exploring these trails.
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I’ll miss hiking here as we move on to another walking adventure but I’m sure I’ll be back!
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For more on walking in South Knoxville, see below:
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV
Walking in South Knoxville V
Walking in South Knoxville VI
Walking in South Knoxville VII
Walking in South Knoxville VIII

Walking in South Knoxville: Another One Bites the Dust

Y’all, I’m getting so excited!  Emily and I finished another section of Urban Wilderness Trails last weekend.  We look to be on track to get our badges before the end of the year.  And really, we will have walked way more than 40 miles, since walking all of them necessarily entails walking some of them more than once.
This time we finished up the William Hastie trails, which is actually where we began this project back in May.  Let me come right out and say that these are probably my least favorite trails.  There’s nothing wrong with them; they just aren’t as interesting to me personally as many of the others.  These pictures below show something pretty interesting and actually downright terrifying, though:
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Unfortunately the photos don’t really do it justice, but that’s a sinkhole.  A gigantic scary deep sinkhole.  The first trail off the parking lot is named Sinkhole for a reason.  As you walk you’ll see a trail off to your right that leads right up to the edge of that.  We were too scared to get close enough for a good picture, but we saw evidence that some adventurous (insane?) people had been climbing down into the thing.  To which I say, they are welcome to it.
Moving right along, we enjoyed the cool fall weather.  Walking three miles in the fall is a whole lot different than doing the same hike when it’s 90 degrees.  There are trade offs, though–no wildflowers, or at least not many.  Still, we had this instead:
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See the collapsing boards in the second picture, though?  That particular bridge (not a bridge, exactly–a raised path over an area prone to mud) was rotting right through.  No big problem when you are walking, but it could be dangerous for an inattentive mountain biker.  Looking at some of the trails they bike on intentionally, though, I imagine they’d probably just look at it as another challenge!
I always have to take a couple of path pictures when we walk:
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I’m really pleased with the way that bottom one turned out.  I wasn’t sure my iPhone would be able to pick up that tunnel effect.
Most of the Hastie trails are through the woods, but the main trail (Margaret Road) was originally a KUB access road and was kept cleared.  In fact, there’s one part that in the summer was a meadow festooned with wildflowers:
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That same part is now a somewhat chilly desert with no plant life in sight.  But the absence of trees allowed us to appreciate the blue sky.  Have you ever noticed that the sky in autumn is a deeper, more intense blue?
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Remember, if you don’t have time to get up to the mountains to enjoy the fall colors, the Urban Wilderness is much closer!
For more South Knoxville walks, see below:
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV
Walking in South Knoxville V
Walking in South Knoxville VI
Walking in South Knoxville VII

Walking in South Knoxville: In the Homestretch

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If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that Emily and I have set a goal of walking all forty miles of the trails in the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness.  Then we plan to walk the main trail, twelve miles, all in one day.  Rain stopped is from walking this weekend–well, not so much rain as the threat of mud and therefore unsafe walking conditions.  We calculate, though, that it should take about five more weekends to finish all the trails, which we started walking in May.  We’ve skipped around from one area to another to keep things interesting, and last weekend we finally finished all the trails in one section, Ross Marble Quarry.
This 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 uphill, we never broke a sweat!
Wildflowers are becoming less plentiful as the weather cools, but fall colors are beginning–not leaves so much, but berries. the bright stems of pokeweed, and other colorful surprises.
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We were walking along a ridge part of the time, so there were some pretty views that will be even better later in the fall when they are less obscured by foliage.
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The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club is primarily responsible for the maintenance of these trails.  Not only are the trails in good repair, they also have a lot of fun features for those who are biking, not hiking.
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For the most part, this trail is a shady one, making it a good choice for hot summer days.  It’s amazing how much cooler it feels when the sun is filtered through the trees.  And even when there are no flowers, the interesting shapes of the trees and the rock formations–much of it rock left over from quarrying days–offers something to look at while you are walking.  If you are riding, you probably only want to be looking where you are going!
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For more South Knoxville walks, see below:
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III
Walking in South Knoxville IV
Walking in South Knoxville V
Walking in South Knoxville VI

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.
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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:
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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?
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As the above sign states, most of this area is wild, unstructured, untamed, even with the reminders of Man’s interference:
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As usual, for me, the wildflowers were the biggest attraction:
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I was also intrigued by the landscape.
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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.
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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.
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So take a walk in South Knoxville some time soon and expect surprises around every bend in the trail.
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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

Walking in South Knoxville: Forks of the River WMA

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Look!  It’s the beginning of another path to explore in South Knoxville!
Actually, this is a post about many paths.  Many, many paths, which you can find at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, one of the stops along the South Knox Loop and part of the  Knoxville Urban Wilderness.
Emily and I have spent part of two Saturdays here so far, and it will take us at least two more to make sure we hit all the trails (so we can cross them off and eventually get a badge for walking every trail in the wilderness).  I have been especially excited about walking here because years ago when we would walk on the Will Skelton Greenway (it runs along the river on the outskirts of the WMA) we used to wonder about all the rest of the land and wish that we dared to walk on some of the paths we saw.  And now we can!
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The Will Skelton Greenway doesn’t start here, of course–it begins at Island Home Park and skirts Ijams before it reaches this point.  The first part of it isn’t even part of the South Loop.  It’s paved and you plan a walk that would include some of the WMA trails and Ijams trails (that’s what we did on our recent visit.).
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Besides the Tennessee and French Broad Rivers, visitors to the WMA will get to enjoy creeks as well.  Don’t you love the soothing sound they make?
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We got a little turned around on the trails the first time we came, but that won’t happen again thanks to the app I told y’all about already.  This last time we just looked at the little dot on our phones if we weren’t sure which way we should be going!  But the trails are well marked for those of you who like your nature technology-free.
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This place abounds with beautiful views.  There are meadow views . . .
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Woodland views . . .FOW 8
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And river views . . .
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What I love most (and can’t stop taking pictures of) are the wildflowers.
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One thing to keep in mind:  hunting is allowed here, so be careful.  Stay on the trails.  The different hunting seasons are posted and you might want to make note of when it’s likely to be more populated with hunters if you are concerned.
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Next time you feel like hiking in the mountains, go the the WMA instead.  Save yourself some gas and see the surprising places a path right here in Knoxville can lead!
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