Logo
Print this page

Knoxville's Urban Wilderness Featured

Rate this item
(108 votes)

UW-kiosk

A Legacy Parks Treasure
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 URBAN WILDERNESS is a spectacular outdoor adventure area where you can hike, bike, climb, paddle or just wander in the woods – all within the heart of the city. Over 50 miles of trails and greenways connect you to a beautiful nature center, pristine lakes, historic sites, dramatic quarries, adventure playgrounds, five city parks and a 500-acre wildlife area. You’ll find adventures for everyone – from the hair-raising, double-black diamond Devil’s Racetrack Mountain Bike Trail to the family-friendly Baker Creek Play Forest – within minutes of Knoxville’s restaurants and shops. Have the best of both adventures – urban and wilderness – in this breathtaking destination.

Knoxville's Urban Wilderness is currently composed of seven recreational areas connected by trails that offer a variety of outdoor activities. The signed 12.5-mile loop connects Ijams Nature Center, Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, Anderson School Trails, William Hastie Natural Area, and Marie Myers Park. The new Baker Creek Preserve, and Baker Creek Play Forest. Combined, over 50 miles of multi-use, natural surface trails offer exciting opportunities for any outdoor activity.

Two additional destinations within the Urban Wilderness — connected to the system by road and sidewalk — offer unique recreational access to Civil War sites at Fort Dickerson Park and Fort Higley at Highground Park.

Eleven parking areas are available featuring kiosks with trail information. Restrooms and water are available at Ijams Nature Center and Ijams Quarry. Please plan ahead and be prepared for your adventure.

Urban Wilderness South Loop Printable Map

familyfriendlytrail dogsonleash hikingrunning mountainbikingwildflowersbirdwildlifeviewingrestrooms

KNOXVILLE URBAN WILDERNESS TRAILS

UW-arrow-65pxSOUTH LOOP ROUTE
  To follow the 12.5-mile South Loop route follow the UW logo, tree blazes, and street stencils.

ANDERSON SCHOOL TRAILS
Printable Map
The 8.2 miles of trails that begin at Anderson School descend through a wooded valley over an easy grade into the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. The trails cross private property made accessible by easements granted by the landowners. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail. 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. Trails rated easy to more difficult.

BAKER CREEK PRESERVE
Printable Map
Baker Creek Preserve's 100-acres of hills, valleys and meadowland along Baker Creek provide over seven miles of natural surface trails of varying difficulty, including three downhill-only mountain bike trails for experienced riders. The entrance features a play area for kids with beginner mountain bike activities and adventure play structures. Baker Creek Preserve connects to Marie Myers Park by the Redbud Road Bridge, and to the Baker Creek Play Forest along the Cherokee trail that crosses Taylor Road. ADA accessible parking is located along Taylor Road. Trails rated easy to extreme.
Baker Creek Play Forest
Aimed at increasing physical activity among middle-school aged youth, the Baker Creek Play Forest features large structures for climbing, sliding, swinging, and socializing tucked underneath towering trees. Connected by trail to the adjacent Baker Creek Preserve and South Doyle Middle School, the Play Forest creates a unique activity center amid the many different locations and trails in the Urban Wilderness.
Note: Riding a mountain bike downhill or gravity trail is an extreme sport with riders at high speeds on steep slopes. These trails are one way (downhill) only. Proper experience and gear, including helmets, pads, and mouth guards, are recommended as the potential for crashes and injury is high.

FORKS OF THE RIVER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
Printable Map
The 8.4 miles of trail within the Wildlife Management Area are a mix of singletrack, dirt/gravel roads, and the paved Will Skelton Greenway. The South Loop route winds from Ijams Quarry Trails along the paved Will Skelton Greenway, skirting the Tennessee River and the fields of the WMA. The greenway ends at the woods edge and merges onto the singletrack Whaley Trail which snakes along the river to the Anderson School Trails. Forks of the River WMA is an active hunting ground and special regulations apply. Please refer to the onsite signage for details. All animals accompanied by a non-hunting person are required to be leashed. Trails rated easy to more difficult.
There are 2 trailhead parking areas:
Burnett Creek Trailhead: Located at the southern edge of Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area, this entrance will lead you through forests and fields that are home to an abundance of wildlife and songbird activity. This trailhead offers a close connection to the Anderson School trails.
McClure Lane Trailhead: The McClure Lane parking area directly links to the Will Skelton Greenway, which runs along the Tennessee River and connects with the natural surface trails that zig-zag alongside the French Broad River.

The Perimeter Trail — Will Skelton Greenway, Whaley Trail, and West Perimeter Trail — is open year-round. All other trails are open to all users from June 1 - August 31.
High Impact Habitat Conservation Permit: All trails used for bicycling in the WMA require a special use permit except the Perimeter Trail (defined as Will Skelton Greenway, Whaley Trail, and West Perimeter).
For questions about permits, land management or hunting regulations please visit tn.gov/twra or call TWRA at 800-332-0900.

FORT DICKERSON PARK
Printable Map
Fort Dickerson, one of the best-preserved earthen forts from the Civil War era, is nestled in a spectacular city park featuring a pristine quarry lake and more than four miles of multi-use natural trails. There are two shelters for enjoying a picnic after walking the interactive trail around the fort, which includes three authentic replica cannons. There are three parking areas at Fort Dickerson. Fort Dickerson Road, off Chapman Highway, offers parking at the quarry overlook and at the Fort. The lower entrance at Augusta Avenue provides parking both at the entrance to this side of the park and at the end of the gravel road at the base of the quarry. Users will find easy access to the greenway, trails, and the quarry lake, where swimming and paddling (non-motorized) is permitted.

HIGH GROUND PARK
High Ground Park commemorates the historic site of Fort Higley. The park features a peaceful walking trail that winds through hardwood forests, wildflowers and native flowering bushes and past the remnants of defensive emplacements such as rifle trenches and a cannon redoubt.

IJAMS NATURE CENTER / IJAMS QUARRIES
Printable Map
Knoxville's very own wildlife sanctuary just minutes from downtown, Ijams provides more than 300-acres of beautiful, gently sloping woodlands flowing southward from the Tennessee River and contains an array of habitats and exhibits, a museum store, miles of natural trails, the Navitat Canopy Adventure, a climbing crag, and access to a quarry lake and the river for paddling and fishing activities. Trails rated easy to more difficult.
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. Trails connect to the Will Skelton Greenway and to the Ijams Quarries Trails.
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.

WILLIAM HASTIE NATURAL AREA / MARIE MYERS PARK
Printable Map
William Hastie Natural Area: Just a few miles from downtown, the trails at William Hastie Natural Area provide hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers with 6.4 miles of singletrack trail, combined with a few old roads. These beautiful trails weave through heavily forested property, and range from easy to moderate with a few technical sections, short hills, and switchbacks to navigate.
Marie Myers Park: This passive wooded all-natural park is preserved by the city as a public nature sanctuary. It is an integral connector for the Urban Wilderness, with a 1.8-mile flowing trail, which links the William Hastie Natural Area to the Ijams Quarries trails. Marie Myers also connects to Red Bud Crest trail, which leads to Baker Creek Preserve via a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over E. Red Bud Road
Note: There is no parking area for access to Marie Myers Park. Trails rated easy to more difficult.

URBAN WILDERNESS PATCH
Hike 47 miles of trail with Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness and earn yourself an Urban Wilderness Patch! Start at one of the seven trailheads and hike your way through a variety of terrain -from rocky outcrops to rolling fields and farmland with trails that range from easy to more difficult. Enjoy the exceptional nature and views along the trail while keeping track of your miles trekked on the Trail Checklist Form. Once you’ve completed all the trails, submit the form along with a check or credit card payment of $10 to Legacy Parks Foundation to receive the Urban Wilderness Patch and a certificate. Enjoy your urban outdoor adventure!

URBAN WILDERNESS MOBILE MAP APP
The mobile app for the Urban Wilderness 50-mile trail system allows you to pinpoint your exact location on the trails; measure distances by “drawing” a line on the map; record tracks and report how far you have traveled; and give you an approximate estimate on the elevation you have gained or lost. Click here for instructions on adding The Urban Wilderness 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! Mobile Map App includes the new trails at Baker Creek Preserve!

Sycamore Loop at Baker Creek Preserve

 

TRAIL GUIDELINES
These trails are for walking, hiking, running, and biking only. No motorized vehicles or equestrians are allowed. Most trails are single-track natural surface, though some include street crossings and short segments on paved greenway or road. There are two types of trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness: Multi-Use and Downhill.

ALL USERS
-Obey all signs
-Helmets are recommended for all riders – full face helmets are recommended for downhill trails Pedestrians have right of way on multi-use trails – riders yield to pedestrians unless otherwise posted
-Riders traveling downhill yield to uphill riders unless otherwise posted
-Ride within your abilities – user assumes all risks
-All pets must be leashed and under control
-Leave no trace
-Public restrooms are only available at Ijams Nature Center and Ijams Quarries
-Sections of these trails cross private property and are marked “Private Land.” Please respect the generosity of these landowners who allow public access to their property by staying on designated trails
-Don’t ride wet trails; stay on designated trails

DOWNHILL TRAIL USERS
Downhill Mountain Biking is an extreme sport with inherent danger and is significantly different than multi-use trail riding. These trails contain technical features that require constant physical and mental effort including jumps, mandatory drops, steep grades, and rough texture.
-Downhill trails are not intended for novice riders, even with significant trail riding experience
-Do not determine your downhill skill level based on multi use trail ability – they are rated on different scales
-Obey all signs
-Ride within your abilities – user assumes all risks
-Full face helmets and other safety equipment are strongly recommended
-No hiking or riding uphill is allowed on downhill trails