Knoxville's Urban Wilderness is a thousand-acre preserve near the city's downtown and urban core that features over fifty miles of trails. Its landscapes include limestone and marble quarries, a sunflower field, and even a bamboo grove. The urban location means that there are many amenities nearby, including restaurants just off the trail and places where you can rent boats. Hikers and canine companions will appreciate the multiple trailheads with free parking, bathrooms, trash cans, and information kiosks.
Despite these conveniences, this is a wild place. Acres of pristine forests provide miles of shade before opening into wetlands and meadows bursting with wildflowers.
Conifers cling to rocky crags that climb hundreds of feet above the
city. Ospreys and bald eagles soar over the Tennessee River looking for
fish while salamanders and snakes slither along its banks. From river
otters and red-eared sliders, to hundreds of species of local
and migrating birds, you won't believe the range of wildlife you can see
One of the most popular routes through the Urban Wilderness is the well-marked 12.5-mile South Loop. You can start from a number of trailheads, though the one on Island Home Pike next to Mead's Quarry has the most amenities. The trailhead at Anderson School is another popular place to start. The easiest way to stay on track is to follow the convenient Urban Wilderness logos, tree blazes, and street stencils posted all along the route. While cyclists can speed through this loop in a few hours, note that hiking it will take a full day.
It's easy to map a shorter route using the dozens of named trails in the different parks and preserves that the South Loop passes through. You can consult maps at trailheads or online to plan your walk. If you have a smartphone, you can even use the Urban Wilderness mobile app!
Don't miss a trip through the Urban Wilderness. This dog-friendly paradise is one of the top reasons Knoxville is such a pawsome place for adventurous canines and their humans.