Best Hiking and Running Trails in Knoxville, TN

Knoxville’s Track and Field Club (KTC) is one of the country’s largest, so it’s no wonder that this is a fantastic road running the town. Thousands of people from all over the region have come to enjoy Knoxville’s roads, greenways, uphill streets, and shady walks as part of races like the Expo 10K and the Knoxville Marathon. But there’s more to it than that… There are pathways hidden among the trees, along rivers and streams, and atop the wooded slopes! In fact, from the bustling downtown streets, you can toss a stone to more than 50 kilometers of trails.


Ijams Knoxville Nature Park is a well-known 315-acre nature center where visitors of all ages and abilities can walk, cycle, kayak, climb, and have a good time. Ijams’ mission is to promote environmental stewardship by providing an urban green area where people may learn about and appreciate the outdoors via fun activities. Quarry, a magnificent walk with natural playgrounds of rocks and trees, runs alongside a peaceful trail. Ijams Knoxville Nature Center is a lovely place to learn about the local environment. Every year, the center hosts hundreds of educational programs. It’s the ideal spot for discovering Knoxville’s local birds, turtles, and flora.

Fort Dickerson Park Trail

The 1,000-acre Fort Dickerson Park Trail features hiking paths and Civil War sites. The park is historically significant because it has a well-preserved Civil War fort and various picnic areas. It features exhibits that describe the fort’s significance as well as its original design and construction. A 4-mile natural footpath winds through the woodland and skirts around the quarry, providing access to the quarry view. Mountain cyclists may access Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness via the Backroads. Interpretive panels, replica cannons, picnic tables, and a covered pavilion are all part of the Fort Dickerson Park Trail.

Sharps Ridge Veterans Memorial Park

Sharps Ridge Veterans Memorial Park is a veterans’ memorial park in the Smoky Mountains that offers hiking, picnics, bird-watching, and skyline views. It has a beautiful viewing platform with signs that identify each mountain peak. Unpaved walking/hiking routes are available in the park, including a 4.7-mile multi-use path that snakes through the wooded hills and a 0.6-mile downhill-only path for mountain bikes. Many songbirds call the park home, and bird enthusiasts flock there to watch them. It’s an ideal location for mountain biking. Sharps Ridge Veterans Memorial Park is a wonderful area to spend the day with family and friends.

I.C. King Park 

I.C. King Park is not for those who easily give up. There are around ten miles of winding, rooty paths that traverse an inlet of Fort Loudon Lake, up and over three very steep hills (one dubbed “Everest”), and through hilly woodlands (one dubbed “Expert”). To get to the approach trail, park at the brand-new parking area off Maryville Pike and climb the gravel road adjacent to the parking lot. Don’t be fooled by the trail’s easygoing nature; you’ll soon be huffing up hills. Meet up with the Upper and Lower Lake Loops trails for some rooty fun along the water’s edge – as this route turns around, you’ll be greeted by “Everest Loop,” “Middle Hill,” and “Kimble’s Ladder” — they had a great time naming these and you’re about to learn why.

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness

Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness will completely do as a stand-alone weekend getaway. There are over 10 trailheads, two swimmable quarries, and an 11-ish mile “loop” connecting 6+ parks with over 50 miles of soft and hard surface trails for hikers, cyclists, and runners. Oh, and did we mention it’s only a 10-minute drive from the city center? Park at Meade’s Quarry and continue south on the Will Skelton Greenway for about a quarter-mile for a 5-ish mile trail run. The trailhead for the “West Perimeter” route, a fast, flowing, not-too-steep or technical 2.5-mile meander through the woods, can be found on the right. 

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