Looking for things to do in Knoxville's outdoors? All you adventure seekers grab your compasses; you’ll find nature in ALL directions here. C’mon, we’ll show you!


Outdoor Adventure in All Directions

From downtown, there are several urban access points to enjoy the outdoors. Walkers and cycling enthusiasts alike can enjoy Knoxville’s extensive Greenway system. Cruise for miles or stop at nearby attractions. Don’t have your own bike? Rent one from the friendly folks at Knoxville Adventure Collective (KAC) at Volunteer Landing and pedal the Neyland Greenway to the UT Gardens or head up Second Creek Greenway to end at World’s Fair Park. While you’re at KAC, consider renting a SUP or kayak to go paddling on the beautiful Tennessee River. Paddle during the day, catch a sunset, or enjoy the city lights at night on the water. The Tennessee River itself forms just east of downtown where the Holston and French Broad River meet. The Tennessee RiverLine is a vision for a continuous, multimodal system of trail experiences along the Tennessee River from its formation in Knoxville, TN, to its confluence with the Ohio River in Paducah, KY.

Find more respite – with great views of downtown – at Sharp’s Ridge Veteran’s Memorial Park in North Knoxville. It’s an inclusive hiking and mountain biking favorite, as there’s even a trail designed to accommodate adaptive mountain bikes.

East Knoxville is another easy pick with the Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum full of native East Tennessee flora to admire. Stroll their natural paths and you might just come upon the Secret Garden. For one of the best bird-watching places around (we’re talking over 190 species!), head to the far edge of east Knox County to find Seven Islands State Birding Park. It’s the only birding park in the state and was named the 2023 State Park of the Year by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. For a hiking challenge, head to House Mountain, the highest peak in Knox County.

South Knoxville takes the crown when it comes to the outdoors opportunities. It’s home to Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness: a spectacular outdoor adventure area where you can hike, bike, climb, paddle or just wander in the woods – less than three miles from downtown. Lace up those hiking boots – stable ankles are a must while exploring the rocky trails at Ijams Nature Center. Explore the Imerys Trail to the keystone to understand why Knoxville was once known as “The Marble City” or take Tharp’s Trace for a sharp incline overlooking the Mead’s Quarry (which has glasslike water perfect for paddling – rent a SUP or kayak from RiverSports Outfitters). Mead’s is also a great swimming spot! For those into climbing, find The Climbing Center at RiverSports’ Sutherland location. Or choose one of the more than 30 bolted routes ranging from 30-60 feet at the Ijams Crag. For another aerial adventure, the whole family (ages 7+) will love Navitat – think obstacle course and zipline amongst the treetops! If Civil War history piques your interest, explore the cannon-laced trails at Fort Dickerson or relax in the iconic red Adirondack chairs at the end of the path at High Ground Park.

Now for some real thrills – Knoxville is a mountain biking mecca. The Appalachian Mountain Bike Club is very active, maintaining over 90 miles of trail networks in the area. At the trailhead at Baker Creek Preserve, all skill levels are welcome on its five multi-use trails and three downhill mountain bike trails. These include beginner pump tracks to the expert-only double black diamond rated Devil’s Racetrack – complete with wall ride, rocks, gap jumps, big berms, and stomach-flopping drops. Nearby Marie Meyers Park (aka Year-Round Get Down, so named for being great in winter and wet weather friendly) offers more gnarly downhill action. Visitors can rent bikes and even hire expert guides through Knoxville Outdoor Tours. Bike rentals and service are also available at Bear Paw Bikes.

No matter which direction you venture, you’ll find authentic outdoor experiences both miles and minutes from the heart of downtown!


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