Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail

The Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail lies within the 1,000-forested acres along Knoxville’s downtown waterfront that includes ten parks, more than forty miles of recreational trails, incredible views and unparalleled natural features.

photo: Keyhole entrance to Ross Marble Quarry at Ijams Type: Fitness Trail, Greenway, Mountain Bike Trail, Nature Trail
Length: 28.40 miles
Loop Trail? Yes
Allowed Uses: Bicycling (on pavement)
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Fishing
Heritage and History
Hunting
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Roller/Inline Skating
Wildlife Observation
Agency:
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

See more details.

Become an NRT Ambassador

Join a cadre of volunteers to help improve the data on this trail.

Directions

Location: South Knoxville, a sector within the limits of the City of Knoxville
States: Tennessee
Counties: Knox
Latitude: 35.95628   Longitude: -83.8668

IJAMS NATURE CENTER TRAILHEADS
Main Entrance:
2915 Island Home Ave
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway and cross the river. Take the Sevier Ave/Hillwood Dr exit and turn left onto Sevier Ave which becomes Hillwood Dr. At the end of Hillwood, turn right onto Island Home Ave then take the 1st left to stay on Island Home Ave. Ijams will be approximately 1-mile on the left.

Mead's Quarry Entrance:
3518 Island Home Pike
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway and cross the river. Take the Sevier Ave/Hillwood Dr exit and turn left onto Sevier Ave which becomes Hillwood Dr. At the end of Hillwood, turn right onto Island Home Ave then take the 1st left to stay on Island Home Ave. Continue south on Island Home Ave which becomes Island Home Pike. After the railroad tracks, turn right into the parking area for the quarries and trails.

WILLIAM HASTIE NATURAL AREA TRAILHEAD
Entrance: end of Margaret Road
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway and cross the river. Take the Moody Ave exit (last exit) and turn left onto Sevierville Pike. Go approximately 2 miles and turn right onto Margaret Road, which dead-ends at the park.

ANDERSON SCHOOL TRAILHEAD
Entrance: 4808 Prospect Lane
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway and cross the river. Take the Moody Ave exit (last exit) and turn left onto Sevierville Pike. Go approximately 2.4 miles and turn left onto Centeroak Dr and take the 1st left onto Prospect Rd. School is on the right.

FORKS OF THE RIVER WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA TRAILHEADS
McClure Ln Entrance:
3140 McClure Lane
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway and cross the river. Take the Sevier Ave/Hillwood Dr exit and turn left. At the end of Hillwood Dr turn right onto Island Home Ave and then take the 1st left to stay on Island Home Ave. Pass Ijams Nature Center on the left, cross the railroad tracks then take a left onto McClure Lane. Go approximately 0.5 miles and parking will be on the right.

Burnett Creek Entrance:
5907 Burnett Creek Road
Directions: Take I-40 to the James White Parkway across the river. Take the Sevier Ave/Hillwood Dr exit and turn left. At the end of Hillwood Dr turn right onto Island Home Ave and then take the 1st left to stay on Island Home Ave. Island Home Ave will become Island Home Pike. Go 2.5 miles and turn right onto Burnett Creek. Go 0.7 miles and turn left into parking area (trail post marks entrance).

Description

Knoxville Urban Wilderness is a 42-mile trail system within the heart of a city — literally two miles from Knoxville, Tennessee's downtown core. The unique urban-wilderness combination offers the advantage to trail riders of spending a day in the woods and an evening out on the town. The system is different from typical trails. Rather than a system of trails within a park, it is a system of trails that connects parks, public and private land. As such, the system offers a diversity of views, topography and scenery. The trails traverse dramatic 30’ tall rock outcroppings — remnants of an old limestone quarry — and weave around a brilliantly blue quarry lake, wetlands, sink holes, rolling farmland and sunflower fields. They climb through mature hardwood forests, woods abundant with wildflowers, and exit surprisingly into a neighborhood though a bamboo thicket. They provide a gentle ride along the Tennessee River and through a nature center. The entire system is well signed with four trailheads with informational kiosks, maps, and directional posts throughout the system.

The Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail has landed Knoxville in several prestigious articles. Reuters cited the vibrant leaf-peeping prospects along the trail as one of the reasons Knoxville was listed as No. 5 on Reuter’s Top 10 U.S. Destinations in October. The trail was also mentioned as a major Knoxville attribute in a New York Post article, “Knoxville is Jaunty.” National Geographic writers have even come to scope out the Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail.

The majority of the Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail was built by the volunteer efforts of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club.

There are several noteworthy destinations along the Urban Wilderness South Loop Trail:
Ijams Nature Center
Developed by Harry Ijams, Knoxville’s leading bird expert, and Alice Yoe Ijams, “First Lady of Knoxville Garden Clubs”. The Ijams place has been a gathering point for birder and nature-lovers for more than a century.
Girl Scouting has been a fixture at Ijams since 1923, followed by Camp Mary Ijams, and Camp Margaret Townsend in the Smokies was created in part through Ijams and Townsend family ties. Harry Ijams also helped establish the first official campsite on Mount LeConte and used his artistry as a commercial illustrator to promote the Smoky Mountains as a national park.
Ijams Nature Center is a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary and that has several visitor must-sees. Located barely a mile downstream from the birth of the Tennessee River (where the Holston and French Broad rivers converge) the extensive boardwalk roughly the length of a football field has long been a visitor favorite. The boardwalk meanders along a riverside cliff, complete with a cave.
The Ross Marble Quarry at Ijams is an abandoned dry quarry that features a keyhole entrance for hikers, leaving visitors with a sense of entering a well-hidden secret. The views from the Rock Bridge above overlooking what local’s call God’s Chair are stunning.
The now gorgeous water of Mead’s Quarry at Ijams was once the murkiest spot in all of Knox County, this important Tennessee Marble Quarry, and later illegal dump, has been transformed into a rugged post-industrial natural area with 25-acre lake and gorgeous views. Stone from Mead’s was used in numerous local national buildings and monuments, including the U.S. Capitol. In the summer, visitors can catch a glimpse of freshwater jellyfish in the lake.
A short hop from the keyhole at Ross Marble Quarry, Ijams’ Hayworth Hallow takes visitors along the quarry gorge’s moss-covered boulders to a stunning view of sheer rock walls towering hundreds of feet above.
William Hastie Natural Area
This park, owned by the City of Knoxville, was named in honor of Knoxville native William Hastie. He was appointed as the first African-American federal judge. The natural surface trails in the William Hastie Natural Area contain a wide array of surfaces and unique challenges, providing hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers 4 miles of singletrack trails. Winding through the heavily forested property and circling the perimeter of the 75-acre park, the trails — at times — traverse across off-camber rock seams and loose shale.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Wildlife Management Area
The trail system within the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area combine trails created over time by wildlife and hunters with those constructed more recently by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club. The paved City of Knoxville Will Skelton Greenway is also found within the WMA along the river boundary and connects the WMA to both Ijams Nature Center and the natural surface trails. There are multiple trails to experience within the WMA, all of varying degrees of difficulty, views and topography. The internal trails pass through open fields, hardwood forests, and hedgerows — all home to an abundance of wildlife and songbird activity. In mid-summer, visitors and birds alike enjoy acres upon acres of sunflower fields.

Additional Details

Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted
Secondary Surface: Asphalt
Boardwalk
Crushed Rock
Gravel
Soil, compacted

Average Grade: 7%
Elevation Low Point: 819
Elevation High Point: 1,184
Year Designated: 2014

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Reuters Article
Website: New York Post
Website: Outdoor Knoxville Web Site
Website: Video of South Loop Trail
Website: Promotion Video of Ijams Nature Center and Will Sk

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Joe Walsh
Director
City of Knoxville
400 Main St
Ste 303
Knoxville , TN 37902
(865) 215-2091
jwalsh@cityofknoxville.org

 

Photos

No additional photos are available.

Reviews

No reviews are available. Be the first to leave one!

 



Enter our contest

We're giving away one Trail Boss mug per month through the end of 2018. Leave a review of this or any trail to be entered into the drawing.

Suggest an Edit

Do you see a problem with this trail data? Contact us below: