Less than a mile from downtown Knoxville, 1,000 acres of parks, trails, and forests along Knoxville’s south waterfront create an exceptional recreation and historic corridor in the heart of the city.

Championed by Legacy Parks Foundation, Knoxville's Urban Wilderness is a unique urban playground featuring nearly 50 miles of natural trails, 10 parks, four civil war sites, incredible views and unparalleled natural amenities. It is comprised of two main destinations - The South Loop and the Battlefield Loop.


Knoxville’s incredible South Loop connects city and county parks, a state wildlife management area, a nature center, and acres of unique natural features, by a system of nearly 50 miles of multi-use trails. The trails meander through forested hillsides, across fields of sunflowers, along riverbanks, and through abandoned rock quarries.


Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area
Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area is a 648-acre active hunting area managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency that allows recreational use by special permit. However, the Will Skelton Greenway and perimeter Whaley Trail are open all year and excluded from the permit requirement. Please check TWRA Hunting regulations for more information. 

Ijams Nature Center, Ross Marble, Meads Quarry
Knoxville’s own wildlife sanctuary just minutes from downtown 300 acres of protected habitat and natural areas with 10 miles of trails along rock formations, ponds, and stunning overlooks.

William Hastie Natural Area
William Hastie Natural Area is a City of Knoxville park with 75 acres of open space, and four miles of natural surface trails through a variety of landscapes.

Urban Wilderness South Loop Trails
The unequalled South Loop Trail System, nearly 50 miles of multi-use trails just a few miles from the city center, accommodate all interests and skill levels on varying terrain through old quarries, forests, limestone fields, and riverside meadows. A 12.5-mile loop connects community parks, Ijams Nature Center, and Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area and offers five trailhead parking areas.


Under development, the Battlefield Loop section of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness provides a historic element to the recreational experience. History buffs will appreciate the earthen forts and other remnants from Knoxville’s place in Civil War history. This loop will include three Civil War forts, a battle site, acres of beautiful forests, and scenic views. The Battlefield Loop, on a bluff across the river from downtown, will ultimately be linked to the south waterfront development and the South Loop to complete Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. Two of the forts are currently open at Fort Dickerson Park and High Ground Park.