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 Knoxvilles
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.
More maps and
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.
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.
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.
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 rivers 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
Big thanks to the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club and all the volunteers
that helped build these beautiful trails!
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
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
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
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.
Connects to Northwest
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
Maps & information
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.
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
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.