Ijams Nature Center is part of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness, a recreational, cultural, and historic preservation initiative championed by Legacy Parks Foundation, incorporating 1,000-forested acres along downtown’s south waterfront. It creates an exceptional recreation and historic corridor inviting residents and visitors to experience the special character-defining assets of the city. With over 40 miles of multi-use trails, 10 parks, four civil war sites, incredible views, and unparalleled natural features, this unique area provides a premiere outdoor experience. Ross Marble Quarry was the first land donation to Legacy Parks Foundation. The 104 acres of abandoned quarry is now a beautiful addition to Ijams Nature Center, boasting miles of natural walking and biking trails and an abundance of wildlife.
Knoxville's very own wildlife sanctuary — and only minutes from downtown! The beautiful rolling woodlands of Ijams Nature Center feature an array of exhibits, a museum store, over 10 miles of trails to hike, run and mountain bike, a quarry to fish, and during summer months, canoes and kayaks to rent for paddling. The Ijams Crag offers 12 bolted routes for beginner to expert rock climbers. At the raptor exhibit, a red-tailed hawk and a turkey vulture sit on their perches, but on the trails you might catch the hoot of an owl or hear a medley of tunes from the assortment of birds that call Ijams their home. Keep posted of all the events on the Ijams' calendar. It brims with environmental teaching programs, classes, hikes and camps for adults and children.
Just minutes from downtown lies an urban playground for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, anglers and paddlers! Miles of diverse trails await you at Ijams Nature Center. The tranquil trails on the river side of the park wind through undisturbed woods where wildflowers carpet the path and songbirds twill. The Wildlife Sanctuary Trail System features almost 4 miles of hiking only trails. Across the street, the rugged terrain that was once home to a post-industrial landscape, has been redesigned into 7.0 miles of multi-use trails that comprise the Quarry and Natural Area Trail System with more trails on the drawing board! The trails have been routed to enhance the distinctive features of this section — a sparkling quarry lake, unique rock formations, scenic overlooks and rugged terrain. The mature woodlands are home to a variety of wildlife and birds. Along the trails you'll spot caves hidden deep in the rocks, you'll wind past the historic Stanton cemetery and climb to the overlooks of scenic gorges. There's much to do and much to experience at Mead's Quarry! Check out our events calendar for hikes and mountain bike rides.
Ijams Nature Center, teamed up with Legacy Parks Foundation and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (AMBC), has developed a network of multi-use trails through the old hickory forest adjacent to the Ross Marble Natural Area. This section of trail is part of the South Loop of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness which connects to the following trail systems: Forks of the River; Helix Trails; William Hastie Natural Area; and Marie Myers Park.
Park Size: 275 acres
Paved Trails: 3.62 miles
Natural Trails: 11.8 miles
Type: single track, old roads
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Hours: dawn till dusk
Will Skelton Greenway
Marie Myers Trails
William Hastie Trails
Forks of the River Trails
Anderson School Trails
Knoxville Urban Wilderness
Quarry and Natural Area Trail System
PINK MARBLE TRAIL: Scenic 0.36 mile lakefront hiking only trail named after the pink Tennessee marble extracted from the quarry in its heyday. Trail leads to the short Cave Loop and observation deck that offers expansive views of the 25-acre Mead's Quarry Lake.
THARP TRACE TRAIL: Winding up to the top of the ridge, this 0.77 mile hiking only trail climbs a few steep hills before reaching the overlook. Take a moment to catch picturesque views of Mead's Quarry Lake and see if you can catch a glimpse of Mt LeConte. The trail saunters back down through a woodland canopy and passes alongside the historic Stanton Cemetery where the gravestones date from 1870 to 1939 before looping back to lake level.
IMERYS TRAIL: Starting at the parking area, this one-mile multi-use trail connects to the quarry gorge and the other multi-use trails.
ROSS MARBLE QUARRY LOOP: Short 0.2 mile trail along an elevated walkway to the top of the rock bridge where you'll glean panoramic views of the quarry gorge. Hike underneath the "keyhole" to witness the quarry's work with it's uniquely carved marble shelves and rock faces.
HAYWORTH HOLLOW TRAIL: Short 0.10 mile multi-use trail travels along the quarry gorge to a pristine area of moss-cover boulders, sheer rock walls and caves. Note that the caves are gated to protect the native wildlife, especially the bats and berry cave salamander.
AMBER, FLOW, HICKORY, & TURNBUCKLE TRAILS: Built by AMBC, these multi-use singletrack trails welcome hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. The 4.35 miles of trail twist and carve through the former quarry site and wind past the wetlands through hickory forests. At the end of the Turnbuckle trail there is a new 1.74 mile section of trail that winds through Marie Myers Park linking this trail system to the trails at William Hastie Natural Area.
Located near the southwestern boundary of Ijams Nature Center, the Ijams Crag offers bolted routes for beginner and expert climbers alike. Climbers can hone their skills on local limestone on routes as hard as 5.12. There are 12 climbing routes open with an additional 20 or more routes currently in development.
Ijams Crag Entrance:
end of Aberdeen Lane
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 and take the 1st left to stay on Island Home Ave. Turn right onto Gilbert Lane, then turn left onto Belvedere Avenue, and take a right onto Aberdeen Lane. Continue at right fork on Aberdeen Lane to the parking pull-off.
Mead's Quarry Entrance:
3518 Island Home Pike
Directions: From the Nature Center, 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.
The newest addition to Ijams is Navitat Canopy Adventures. This tree-based zipline adventure park is designed to thrill, educate, and inspire. With more than 60 adventure elements - from ziplines and bridges to swings, nets, elevated tunnels, and more - the park is a treetop wonderland full of surprises.
Ijams Primal Playground: Ijams Primal Playground at Meads Quarry, along the Pink Marble trail, is a green workout space for everyone. People who exercise in nature do so at a higher intensity level and are better stewards of the environment. Ijams created the Primal Playground, a cutting edge space, to give people of all fitness levels an opportunity to exercise in a nature using natural equipment, and challenge themselves in unique ways. The Playground is divided into three sections: Stone, Wood and Boulder Field. Each section provides different elements that can be used in a variety of ways.
View YouTube video HERE.