Trail Running Venues

In the Greater Knoxville vicinity we are fortunate to be surrounded by numerous off-road running venues. Ranging from tranquil mulched trails and mown grassy pathways to jeep roads and rugged single-track trails, city, county, and state parks offer varied off-road running experiences, all within a short drive of metropolitan Knoxville.

Urban Wilderness Loop & Trails

The 1,000-acre Knoxville Urban Wilderness Corridor along Knoxville’s downtown waterfront contains ten parks, more than forty miles of recreational trails, three civil war forts, historic settlement sites, and diverse ecological features and recreational amenities. The corridor links the existing assets and the future acquired properties into an incredible historical, recreational, cultural and environmental experience. Descriptions and maps of individual sections of the Loop appear below; thanks to OutdoorKnoxville.com for much of the information and map links pertaining to the Urban Wilderness.

Map
More maps and information

Ijams Nature Center, Ross and Meades Quarry

Trails in this area are a combination of shale and undisturbed soil and heavily manipulated soils and rock. The Turnbuckle Trail is built through a section of the former limestone quarry where undesirable stone was discarded. Trail builders have utilized this rock to create a unique trail experience. Several easy bridge crossings will enhance your way through the Ross Marble Natural Area. In addition to the multi-user trails, there are hiking only trails that take you past the historic Stanton Cemetery to the top of the ridge for an overlook of the turquoise Mead's Quarry Lake. More wandering around the old quarry will take you past gated caves and uniquely carved marble shelves; over the rock bridge and underneath the "keyhole" before looping back to the main trail. The tranquil trails on the river side of Ijams Nature Center wind through undisturbed woods and along the boardwalk where the Tennessee River flows below. These trails are open to hikers and trail runners.

Map

William Hastie Natural Area/Marie Myers Park

The "midwestern" section of the Urban Wilderness, the natural surface trails in the Hastie Natural Area contain a wide array of surfaces and unique challenges and provide hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers 4 miles of singletrack trails. Winding through the heavily forested property and circling the perimeter of the park, the trails — at times — traverse across off-camber rock seams and loose shale. The gravel double-track through the park, shown as Margaret Road, is the easiest way to navigate through the park. Hastie Natural Area connects to Ross Marble Quarry on a 2-mile flowing, fun trail through Marie Myers Park. Enjoy the surprising entry at View Park Drive.

Map

Anderson School Trails

The trails beginning at Anderson School/Head Start descend through a wooded valley over an easy grade into the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. The trail crosses private property made accessible by easements granted by the landowners. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail. Look for wood ducks and the occasional Great Blue Heron in the pond on your left if you are heading towards Forks of The River WMA. Please remember that Anderson School has students present during school hours. Limited parking is available during weekdays. Be sure to stay on the trail on school property.

Map

Forks of the River

The trail system within the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area combine trails created over time by wildlife and hunters with those constructed more recently by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. The paved Will Skelton Greenway is also found within the WMA along the river boundary and connects the WMA to both Ijams Nature Center and the natural surface trails. There are multiple trails to experience within the WMA, all of varying degrees of difficulty, views and topography. The South Loop main route begins on the paved Will Skelton Greenway, continues along the river’s edge and meanders through forests and fields. The internal trails pass through open fields, hardwood forests, and hedgerows — all home to an abundance of wildlife and songbird activity.

Please be aware that the Wildlife Management Area is an active hunting area managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. Special conditions apply to this property and are listed below. This Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area is managed for hunting and habitat conservation by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. The TWRA works collaboratively with Legacy Parks Foundation, Appalachian Mountain Bike Association and the Knoxville and Knox County Parks Departments to provide for non-motorized, recreational mixed-use within the WMA. Walking, running and biking on the paved Will Skelton Greenway is permissible year-round. Be aware that hunting is allowed in the fields next to the greenway during legal hunting seasons. Walking, running and biking is permitted on the unpaved trails with certain restrictions. A complete list of regulations and more information about TWRA are available at http://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife.html.

The paved Will Skelton Greenway, follows the river back to Mead's Quarry and then continues its course through Ijams Nature Center to Island Home Park.

Big thanks to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club and all the volunteers that helped build these beautiful trails!

Map

North Boundary Greenway

Popularly known as the Guard Shack Trail System, the North Boundary trails were once exclusively open to U.S. Department of Energy employees. Now managed by the City of Oak Ridge, these broad, mostly graveled roads traverse a wooded section of Black Oak Ridge. Routes of eight to thirteen miles or more are easily accomplished and can provide a relatively easy introduction to the world of trail running. Thanks to OutdoorKnoxville.com and MiniAdventure Series for the map links pertaining to the North Boundary area.

Maps & information
Detailed trail map

I.C. King Park

A delightful circuit of single-track trails, the system at I.C. King Park south of Knoxville offers up to nine miles of winding, hilly footpaths. Frequented by mountain bikers as well as runners, the area is a hidden gem just five miles south of the University of Tennessee. Connections are planned and being worked out to incorporate I.C. King into the South Knoxville Urban Wilderness Loop.

Maps & information

Haw Ridge

An outdoorsman's paradise, more than twenty-eight miles of rolling, twisting, single-track and double-track trails await the intrepid trail runner at Haw Ridge, situated on a rugged peninsula along the Clinch River between Oak Ridge and Knoxville. So much trail awaits that one can arrive to what appears a full parking lot and complete a run while encountering nary a soul. Except for the spine of the ridge bisecting the park, the lower trails stay rather soggy in wet weather.

Maps & information

Norris Dam State Park and Norris Municipal Watershed

Here, adjacent to the Clinch River above and below Norris Dam, many miles of trails await the avid trail runner. From the nearly level trail paralleling Lower Clear Creek, to the knee-stiffening, quad-busting grades of Ridgecrest and Lakeside, the trails, many in the state park and even more scattered throughout the Norris Municipal Watershed, offer a challenging and rewarding array of single-track and jeep roads that drain better than most, making Norris a great place to run in wet weather.

Maps & information

Concord Park

Home to the annual Trail That Can't Be Concord race, this trail system off Northshore Drive out near Farragut is largely unknown to the tens of thousands who live within minutes of its trailheads. Single-track offerings wind and climb up and down through thick undergrowth beneath a dense tree canopy along Fort Loudoun Lake.

Maps & information

TVA East Lakeshore Trail System

Located along the east shoreline of Tellico Lake opposite Tellico Village and Rarity Bay between mile 5 and mile 13 of the Little Tennessee River channel, this gem of a trail system is largely unknown to Knoxville area trail runners. Built mainly with volunteer labor, the concept began in 2002 and is now a reality with over 21 miles of trail. It is envisioned that the trail could ultimately consist of about 35 miles. The project involves initial trail layout, trail construction including installation of bridges, water bars, fence stiles and timber stair treads as needed, development of trailhead parking areas with kiosk bulletin boards, scenic view areas with benches, and boat landing areas making the trail accessible by water. Some segments of the trail are identified as self guided interpretive trails for environmental education purposes. Currently, the East Lakeshore Trail consists of seven completed segments available for public use and enjoyment (over 24 miles).

Trail System Information

Victor Ashe Park

Owned by the City of Knoxville, Victor Ashe Park is a wonderful example of intelligent multi-use. Wrapped around several well-built and maintained soccer fields is a mulched pathway that runs through woods and fields alike. While only a mile and a half in length, the mulched trail can be combined with a paved greenway or a bushwhack through undeveloped parkland to create an enjoyable little run.

Park website & Map
Connects to Northwest Greenway

Black Oak Ridge

The newest trail system in the region, the Black Oak Ridge trails were recently given over to Oak Ridge Greenways by DOE. Located a bit west of the Guard Shack on Highway 58, the trailhead is on Blair Road. Much like the Guard Shack loop, the trails clamber up and down Black Oak Ridge with significant grades and nice vistas. Thanks to OutdoorKnoxville.com and MiniAdventure Series for the map links pertaining to the Black Oak Ridge area.

Maps & information
Detailed trail map

Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge

Just twenty minutes west of downtown Knoxville is one of the best kept secrets in the area. The trails at Seven Islands, formerly a Knox County park and now a Tennessee State Park, are largely grassy, with a few challenging stretches of wooded single-track. Closed to mountain-bikers, these trails offer a degree of solitude unavailable in many trail running venues, along with grand views of the Smokies and the Cumberland Escarpment.

Directions & description

Melton Hill Park

In the far northwestern reaches of Knox County lies a park astride a scenic bend in the Clinch River. Mown grassy pathways are maintained year-round and connect with a number of stretches of wooded trail, including the infamous Beast. Much of the trail system is easily navigable, with an additional hilly section in the eastern quadrant of the park.

I-140 (Pellissippie Parkway) take the Hardin Valley Exit, go west, turn onto Steele Rd., right beside Hardin Valley Elementary School. Go left at next intersection, Sam Lee Rd. to Couch Mill to Williams Bend Rd runs right into park

On Google Maps

Gallaher Bend

This restricted gravel road off Bethel Valley Road outside Oak Ridge offers a flat to rolling two mile stretch snaking along a thickly wooded peninsula along Melton Hill Lake. At the far end of the road, the gravel ends and a rather steep rolling hill ascent challenges the trail runner, reaching at the top a grassy trail overlooking a wondrous view of the river, eventually looping back to the original road. Out'n'back, the trail isn't much more than four miles, but is excellent for novices or as a return from a layoff.

Maps and Information

Panther Creek State Park

A verdant and wondrous paradise of woods and lake, the park has 17 different hiking trails covering more than 30 miles of terrain at all levels of difficulty. Hikers can enjoy magnificent views of Cherokee Lake and the Cumberland Mountains from Point Lookout Trail reaching 1,460 feet above sea level. There are also more than 15 miles of mountain biking trails that range from easy to difficult.

Maps and Information