A Legacy Parks Treasure
Ijams Nature Center is part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness, a recreational, cultural, and historic preservation initiative championed by Legacy Parks Foundation, incorporating 1,000-forested acres along downtown’s south waterfront. It creates an exceptional recreation and historic corridor inviting residents and visitors to experience the special character-defining assets of our city. With over 40 miles of multi-use trails, 10 parks, four civil war sites, incredible views, and unparalleled natural features, this unique area provides a premiere outdoor experience. Ross Marble Quarry was the first land donation to Legacy Parks Foundation. The 104 acres of abandoned quarry is now a beautiful addition to Ijams Nature Center, boasting miles of natural walking and biking trails and an abundance of wildlife.
Knoxville's very own wildlife sanctuary — and only minutes from downtown! The beautiful rolling woodlands of Ijams Nature Center feature an array of exhibits, a museum store, over 10 miles of trails to hike, run and mountain bike, a quarry to fish, and during summer months, kayaks and SUP to rent for paddling. The Ijams Crag offers 24 completed routes with 9 more scheduled to be completed by spring of 2017, providing a local climbing spot for beginners to experts. 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. Keep posted of all the events on the Ijams' calendar. It brims with environmental teaching programs, classes, hikes and camps for adults and children — we'll keep you posted on what's happening in the woods and on the water!
SOUTH LOOP MOBILE MAP APP
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!
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 amenity allows paddlers of all abilities to have the opportunity to experience nature from Knoxville’s arguably greatest natural resource: its rivers. In addition to expanding paddling opportunities, the dock is the first step in Ijams offering adaptive recreation for individuals with physical challenges. The nature center has two adaptive kayaks and partnering with Catalyst Sports, offers adaptive paddling programs. The dock is free and open to the public. Motorized watercraft are not permitted. Future plans for the River Landing include new space for environmental education programs, as well as paddling rentals for those who do not have their own boards or boats. Ijams River Landing can be accessed from Island Home Avenue by turning onto the gravel path across the street from Mead’s Quarry.
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 by spring of 2017, providing a local climbing spot for beginners to experts. Note: The Crag is currently closed but Ijams and the City of Knoxville are working to open the area again as soon as possible.
Trails: Wander along the quiet nature trails of the Wildlife Sanctuary Trail System that wind their way over to the Tennessee River boardwalk. Or explore the more rugged terrain of the Quarry and Natural Area Trail System — perfect for cross-country hiking, running and mountain biking. Stop and fish along the shoreline of the Mead's Quarry lake. Add more adventure to your trip to Ijam's by starting at Island Home Park, and taking the paved Will Skelton Greenway. The route hugs the shores of the Tennessee River before ingressing the peaceful woods of the nature center. The greenway continues through the center then follows the river over to the 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. Kayaks and SUPs are available for $11 an hour. Opening hours change with each season, check with River Sports for the times that they will be open - 865-523-0066.