Fall Color by Foot
The best places in Knoxville to see the leaves change
Knoxville is a ridge and valley town, which means it is a great place to see the colors of fall. Whether surrounded by the lush forest of the Urban Wilderness or from a high overlook, every side of town has options. Get ready for some beautiful foliage, and try out one of these great local hikes!
Want to see the colors of fall on a medium-difficulty hike on the north side of town? Make a loop out of Sharp Shin Trail and Fire Break Trail at Sharp’s Ridge. Sharp’s is only 10 minutes from downtown and higher than the surrounding neighborhoods, making for great views on both sides. Sharp Shin Trail is more narrow and technical, so you can choose whether to knock it out first or use the easier Fire Break Trail as a warm-up. Either way, the views from the meandering trail will be surrounded by hardwoods turning orange and red by late October. Make a day of it by packing lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic areas!
Want to step it up a notch? We’re lucky to have trails up to the highest point in Knox County at the House Mountain Natural Area. It’s only a 30 minute drive from downtown and has overlooks at 2,100 feet of elevation with great views including the Cumberland Mountains, Smoky Mountains, and downtown Knoxville. There are 5.8 miles of trail on House Mountain with a somewhat steep climb to Crest Trail, which runs from the East Overlook to the West Overlook. You’ll be surrounded by autumn colors during your climb to the crest, and the views from the overlooks will definitely impress.
You have lots of options for wandering through the falling leaves at Concord Park with 11.8 miles of trail to choose from. Try the Lake Shore Loop for a chance to see the beautiful colors reflected in Springs Creek, an inlet of Fort Loudoun Lake. And if you take the trails inland, you’ll be surrounded by a lush, wooded area that winds through flat and hilly sections of the park. Trails are moderate in difficulty and good signage make them easy to navigate.
Looking for a quick autumn hike on the south side of the river? Head over to Baker Creek Preserve and take Pappy’s Way up to a spectacular view of Knoxville and beyond at Pappy’s Peak. If the weather is clear, you may be able to see the color change all the way out to Buffalo Mountain. Hike back down Best Medicine to extend your hike on the three other multi-use trails at Baker Creek Preserve or take the family over to the kid’s adventure play area near the parking lot.
While these are some of our favorite places to hike in fall, Knoxville is home to nearly 100 parks and over 115 miles of trails and greenway. Take a look at Knoxville's Urban Wilderness to explore all the great places and activities that make us want to get out and play!