Ijams Nature Center, located East of downtown, has many hiking trails. 

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness entails 1,000-forested acres of land around the south waterfront of downtown Knoxville.

The historic preservation initiative is promoted by Legacy Parks Foundation and allows many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.


There are more than 50 miles of natural surface trails within Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness that provide hiking opportunities for nature-buffs.

Most of the trails are multi-use, meaning they are comprised of crushed rock or packed dirt, but some connector trails are on paved streets or greenways. Some of the most popular foot traffic-only trails can be found at Ijams Nature Center.

Other popular trails are found at Fort Dickerson Park, Anderson School and Mead’s Quarry.

Mountain biking

A majority of the mountain biking trails in the Urban Wilderness are multi-use trails, which means bikers share them with hikers and runners.

There are three dedicated downhill trails for advanced mountain bikers, including a 12.5-mile loop that takes riders past five signature destinations.

The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, a non-profit organization, assists with trail maintenance, and provided aid during the record rainfall around Knoxville in February.

“What we try to accomplish is to do maintenance, find problem areas and fix those wet spots on the trail or areas that need a little attention or re-route,” AMBC President Wes Soward told WVLT.

“We’re basically just trying to create access to trails, and more trails for obviously mountain bikers, but also hikers, runners and everybody else that wants to get outside.”

Bikers can stop for restrooms and water breaks at Ijams Nature Center and Ijams Quarries.


Several quarries in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness give swimmers the chance to take a dip in the water.

The Fort Dickerson Quarry is encapsulated by tall rock cliffs and can be accessed from the Augusta Quarry.

Mead’s Quarry Lake is a swimming area that is set apart with rope and buoys. There is also a floating a dock.

Lifeguards are not present at any of the quarries, so swimmers must swim at their own risk.


As with many places around town, the Knoxville Urban Wilderness provides a place to fish on the Tennessee River.

The Ijams River Landing is a place for non-motorized boat access, where people can fish off a dock into the Tennessee River. The river merges with the French Broad River and the Holston River upstream.

Paddlers can explore downtown Knoxville if they head downstream.

Anyone over the age of 13 must have a fishing license in the state of Tennessee.


Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness is expected to grow in the coming years.

According to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness on the Legacy Parks Foundation website, “the vision is to expand Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness to fully connect the recreational, cultural, and historic assets from Alcoa Highway on the west, to the Head of the Tennessee River at Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area on the east, and to I.C. King Park on the south.”

No motorized vehicles are allowed on any of the trails in the system. Multi-use and downhill trails are the only two types of trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness.

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