Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Knoxville
Wicked mountain biking, urban adventure and authentic Appalachian culture don’t often come together in one place. We’re happy to say it’s alive and thriving in a corner of Tennessee known as Knoxville, a place where the thrills of nature are accessible even within the city limits. Knoxville’s geography offers visitors the chance to get active and enjoy the great outdoors any time of the year.
Fall Off the Grid (Without Leaving the City)
Perhaps the most unique feature of Knoxville is its Urban Wilderness, a network of parks, historical sites and trails embedded within the city limits. The Urban Wilderness is so close to the downtown area visitors can shop in the morning, spend the day exploring nature, then drive (or bike!) back downtown within minutes to enjoy some of Knoxville’s revered local cuisine and craft breweries. In all, more than 50 miles of mixed use trails spider web across the Urban Wilderness with terrain ranging from steep and rocky to sandy, jungle-like areas that resemble a scene straight out of Jurassic Park.
Hit the Open Road on Two Wheels
Knoxville will feel just like home for those who prefer to explore on two wheels. No matter where you go you’ll see mud covered cyclists cruising around and tearing it up. As mentioned, the Urban Wilderness offers a vast system of bike trails in areas like Baker Creek Preserve and Ijams Nature Center in addition to a double-black diamond downhill mountain biking course known as the Devil’s Racetrack. Beyond Knoxville’s city limits lies an endless bounty of killer single-track trails, too. In addition, the city hosts a number of bike events (both road and mountain) throughout the year. In fact, Knoxville is so bike friendly that its busses and free KAT trolleys are all equipped with slick bike racks for cyclists in need of some public transport. Simply stash your bike on the easy-to-use rack and hop aboard!
Make a Splash
If water sports are more your style, rent a paddle board and test your SUP skills on the Tennessee River, Mead’s Quarry or Concord Park. How about nocturnal paddle boarding? Several board shops along the Tennessee River host “night paddles” where paddlers are suited up with LED illuminated boards and taken out for an epic evening paddling in the dark.
No matter whether you choose to keep your adventures on land or take them to water, Knoxville has all of your gear-needs covered. There are numerous places throughout the city where you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, mountain bikes, road bikes, and just about any other adventure necessity you can think of.
Reconnect with Nature
While technically part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness, Ijams Nature Center deserves to be recognized on its own. This is the place to go if you really want to immerse yourself in nature, get away from crowds and learn about the environment. Here you’ll find more than 300 acres of animal habitats and natural areas as well as Knoxville’s own wildlife sanctuary. Visitors here are encouraged to explore every nook and cranny of the park and to use the river, forest, and lake to their advantage. Aside from paddleboarding, canoeing, hiking, and mountain biking, the Crag offers bolted rock climbing routes for every level of climber.
Ijams is also home to Navitat Knoxville, a tree-based adventure park with ziplines, bridges, nets, tunnels, and more. They also offer night time runs – under the lights.
Get Some Perspective
Just outside of Knoxville, adventures can get elevated at the House Mountain State Natural Area. The state natural area boasts the highest point in Knox County and gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountain Range and the Cumberland Range. At only three miles long, it is a great afternoon hike (and a nice workout to boot) for the entire family.
Located within the Tennessee Valley between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau, Knoxville is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, bikers, paddlers, and hikers alike. Knoxville has a space for everyone. Don’t you think it’s time to find yours?