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Ijams Nature Center

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A Legacy Parks Treasure
Ijams Nature Center is part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness, Knoxville Urban Wilderness, a recreational, cultural, and historic preservation initiative championed by Legacy Parks Foundation, incorporates 1,000-forested acres along downtown’s south waterfront. It creates an exceptional recreation and historic corridor for experiencing the special character-defining assets of our city. There are currently over 50 miles of trail connecting multiple parks and cultural sites within the Urban Wilderness. 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. Legacy Parks invites people to support this vision by becoming a Friend of Legacy Parks at legacyparks.org/friend.

Knoxville's very own wildlife sanctuary is only minutes from downtown and the heart of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness. This beautiful rolling woodlands feature an array of exhibits, a museum store, over 12 miles of trails to hike, run and mountain bike, a quarry to fish, and during summer months, kayaks and SUP to rent for paddling. At the raptor exhibit, a red-tailed hawk and a turkey vulture sit on their perches, but on the trails, you might catch the hoot of an owl or hear a medley of tunes from the assortment of birds that call Ijams their home. The Ijams Crag offers 24 completed routes providing a local climbing spot for beginners to experts. Experience Ijams from the tree tops with Navitat Canopy Adventures — a unique tree-based zip-line adventure park designed to tell stories of Knoxville's natural and cultural heritage, with themes like water, fish and mountain heritage. Paddlers and swimmers can enjoy the 25-acre Quarry Lake, while non-motorized boats can use the new ADA adaptive dock at the Ijams River Landing for access on the Tennessee River.

Urban Wilderness South Loop Printable Map

The new mobile app for the South Loop's 42-mile trail system allows you to pinpoint your exact location on the trails, to measure distances by “drawing” a line on the map, to record tracks and report how far you have traveled, and will give you an approximate estimate on the elevation you have gained or lost. Click here for instructions on adding The South Loop trail map onto your mobile device. Once the free app is downloaded, these simple step-by-step instructions will guide you through setup. After the map is downloaded to your mobile device, read the “Getting Started” section to learn about the various features available. This is a great resource for all who set out to explore Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness!

greenway accesstrailguided traildogs on leashwalkingrunninghikingmountain bikingrockclimbingbluewayaccessfishingpaddlingswimmingwildflowersbirdwildlife viewingpicnic arearestroomshandicapfriendly

Bicycling: Whatever your preference, there are great places to road, greenway or mountain bike ride around the Ijams area. The road cyclist will find Ijams a great start location to wander the scenic backroads of South Knoxville. The scenic Will Skelton Greenway bisects Ijams on its run from Island Home Park to Forks of the River. The mountain bike trail system at Ijams connecs to all the trails in the Knoxville Urban Wilderness. For those that want to rent a bike, Ijams is partnered with River Sports Outfitters offering bike rentals for use on the trails and greenway (call their store for hours and availability).

Quarry: The sparkling blue quarry waters run 80-100 feet deep and are surrounded by tall rock cliffs making a beautiful setting for a paddle. River Sports Outfitters has partnered with Ijams to provide both kayaks and SUP (stand-up paddleboard) rentals for use on Mead's Quarry. No private boats are allowed.
Ijams River Landing: features an ADA adaptive dock located at the Ijams River Landing on the Tennessee River. The nature center has two adaptive kayaks and has partnering with Catalyst Sports to offer adaptive paddling programs. The dock is free and open to the public. Motorized watercraft are not permitted. River Sports Outfitters offers rentals, call the shop for details (865-523-0066). Ijams River Landing is located south of the Nature Center before the Mead’s Quarry entrance.

Rock Climbing: Located near the southwestern boundary of Ijams Nature Center, the Ijams Crag offers bolted routes for beginner and expert climbers alike. Climbers can hone their skills on local limestone on routes as hard as 5.12. The Crag offers 24 completed routes with 9 more scheduled to be completed in 2017, providing a local climbing spot for beginners to experts.

Swimming: There is a roped off section at Meads Quarry that is open to swimmers. Note: There is no lifeguard so you "swim at your own risk" and anyone under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult.

Trails:Ijams Nature Center: This is a 300-acre greenspace featuring almost three miles of tranquil pedestrian-only trails that wind through undisturbed woods and across a wooden boardwalk over the Tennessee River. The mature woodlands are home to a variety of wildlife and birds.Trails connect to the Will Skelton Greenway and to the Ijams Quarries Trails. Trails rated easy to more difficult.
Ijams Quarries: Just south of Ijams, the 9.5 miles of Quarry trails wander around the old Meads and Ross Marble Quarries, The trails have been routed to enhance the distinctive features of this section — a sparkling quarry lake, unique rock formations, scenic overlooks, and rugged terrain. The trail winds through the "keyhole", and over several easy bridge crossings. Trails made up of shale, soil, rock, and limestone remnants from the former quarries create a unique trail experience. A 1.3-mile hiking-only trail takes you past the historic Stanton Cemetery to an observation overlook at the top of the ridge which features expansive views of Mead's Quarry Lake.
Will Skelton Greenway: Starting at Island Home Park, the paved Will Skelton Greenway hugs the shores of the Tennessee River then winds through the peaceful woods of the Nature Center as it continues its terminus at Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area.

Tree-based Zip-line Adventure Park: Asheville, NC-based Navitat Canopy Adventures to open its latest adventure - the Ijams Canopy Experience! This unique tree-based zipline adventure park consists of six different elevated “adventure trails” – entirely tree-based, and all starting from one main central platform in the forest. Each trail is rated for difficulty, ranging from easy to accomplish to more difficult. The course is designed to tell stories of Knoxville’s natural and cultural heritage, with themes like water, fish and mountain heritage.

Rentals: River Sports Outfitters runs the Rental Shop at Meads Quarry and at Ijams River Landing offering kayaks, standup paddleboards and bikes. Opening hours change with each season, check with River Sports for the times that they will be open, costs, and availability - 865-523-0066.



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