Every fall, colder temperatures brighten the leaves and darken the beers. Most tipplers start shedding their summer shandies for porters, while the leaves' changing colors transform Knoxville's rolling hills and river valleys into a dazzling foliage fantasyland of fiery oranges, yellows, and reds. Though the city is relatively new to the brewery scene, it’s definitely making up for lost time. About a dozen breweries have opened just in the last few years, helping spark a newfound appreciation for local beers. 

There's no better time to toast that transformation than fall, when changing colors and a delicious local beer make the perfect pairing. Here, a guide to the best brews and fall views in Knoxville in autumn.

Knox Brews Tours at the Last Days of Autumn Brewery, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Knox Brews Tours at the Last Days of Autumn Brewery, Knoxville, Tennessee. Perry Smyre

Early-season foliar views can be seen in the thick hillside forests of Sharps Ridge in northern Knoxville, one of the highest points in the city. Once a rough, neglected park, Sharps Ridge has taken on new life (and brand-new trails!) as of late thanks to the tireless work of the  Appalachian Mountain Bike Club . The group has installed amazing singletrack sections and a steep, high-octane mountain biking route that shoots down from the high edge of the ridge. Walk among the changing fall colors on the dense network of trails, or head to the overlook for stunning views of North Knoxville's tree-friendly neighborhoods that explode in dazzling autumn colors.

After soaking up the first fall colors, it's only appropriate to visit Knoxville's first craft brewery, Saw Works, to soak up some of its fine creations. For years, Knoxville had lived in the shadow of established nearby brew towns like Asheville, until Saw Works opened up on Depot Street. Ever since, Knoxville's brew scene has been coming into its own—so raise a pint to these pioneers.

While in the neighborhood, be sure to stop at Last Days of Autumn Brewing. Adjacent to Saw Works, this award-winning microbrewery has quickly made a name for itself among local beer lovers. Head Brewer Daniel Delph is putting out some wildly original (and tasty) takes, such as a Salted Carmel Porter and Hop Coffee Stout—perfect beers for autumn in Knoxville.

Alliance Brewing Co. Knoxville, Tennessee.
Alliance Brewing Co. Knoxville, Tennessee. Perry Smyre

Other adventure and ale options await in South Knoxville, the heart of Knoxville outdoor life and the home of some its newest brew spots. SoKno has come a long way over the last few years, transforming a smattering of isolated parks, wilderness area, and private green spaces into the innerconnected Urban Wilderness. Here you can hike, bike, kayak, climb, zipline, and, of course, enjoy a nice cold beer afterward.

At Mead's Quarry, watch the autumn leaves form a colorful cloak around the cliff-flanked lake, or hike to the top of those same cliffs via Tharp Trace to discover an old miners' graveyard and take in soaring views of South Knoxville from the overlook. You can also drive to the River Bluff Overlook off Cherokee Trail, near High Ground Park, for a beautiful fall overlook of the Tennessee River, the University of Tennessee, and downtown Knoxville. Afterward, head to Alliance Brewing, where you can sit back with a traditional seasonal lager or try something innovative and new. You'll recognize the brewery by its giant metal mountain biker sculpture out front, a nod to South Knox's outdoor affinity.

Fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kevin Stewart

Out west, cyclists and runners can enjoy autumn displays along the long system of greenways connecting the area to downtown Knoxville and the Urban Wilderness. Explore the Bearden Village Greenway, take a break in Third Creek Park, and cut across to Sequoyah Park via the Boulevard/Sequoyah Greenway. This area is very popular among runners trying to push into high mileage while still enjoying some of the best-paved trails in the city. The greenways here keep the scenery changing as you pass by rivers and creeks and through some of Knoxville's oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods.

These areas are beautiful in spring and summer, with blooming dogwoods and flowers of nearby UT gardens, but the diversity of trees offers exceptional fall colors. You won't be disappointed by a leisurely walk among Sequoyah Hills' elegant homes, accented by the deep reds and oranges of the autumn displays. After hitting your leaf-peeping limit, grab a drink at Blackhorse Pub & Brewery. Located at the intersection of UT, Sequoyah Hills, and Bearden, this West Knoxville favorite has been brewing in Tennessee since 1992 and prides itself on pitcher-perfect brews.

There are way more views and brews in Knoxville than we could possibly cover here, but this overview should provide a good start for a wonderful fall season in our happy, hoppy city. If you want to learn more about the great beer offerings in Knoxville, check out the Knoxville Ale Trail, a collaboration between Visit Knoxville and our great local breweries. And for more intel on making the most out of your autumn adventures, check out the Knoxville fall foliage guide from our friends at RootsRated.

Originally written by RootsRated for Visit Knoxville.