Hiking Trails

Hiking Near Knoxville Tennessee: 20 Hiking Trails

As the sun peeks over the horizon and bathes the landscape in a soft, golden glow, there’s no place quite like Knoxville, Tennessee for hiking. Nestled in the heart of the state, on the banks of the Tennessee River and flanked by the majestic peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains. Knoxville serves as an alluring gateway to some of the Southeast’s most stunning outdoor landscapes.

Not only does this vibrant city hold its own in terms of historical intrigue, culinary delight, and cultural richness, but it also proves a real treat for nature enthusiasts. It’s here where the call of the wild is echoed in the rustling of leaves, the singing of birds, and the crunching of gravel underfoot on a myriad of hiking trails.

Hiking in Knoxville and its surroundings is a pastime deeply embedded in the local culture, attracting adventurers from far and wide. From winding paths through serene forests to challenging routes leading up breathtaking mountains, there’s a trail suited to every inclination and skill level.

Why Hike Near Knoxville Tennessee?

You might ask, why go hiking near Knoxville, Tennessee? The simple answer: diversity and abundance of outdoor exploration options. Knoxville offers an impressive variety of trails, catering to different fitness levels and personal preferences.


Overview of Knoxville, Tennessee

At the heart of Knoxville’s appeal is its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home to over 800 miles of well-maintained trails. This UNESCO World Heritage Site presents a chance to traverse through lush old-growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, and up to panoramic vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.


Great Smoky Mountains

Just a stone’s throw away, the world-renowned Appalachian Trail, with its unparalleled biodiversity and scenic beauty, offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for intrepid hikers. Knoxville serves as an ideal starting point or rest stop for those tackling this legendary trail.

Unique Knoxville Wildlife

Moreover, Knoxville is a window into Tennessee’s vibrant wildlife. While hiking near Knoxville, you’ll likely catch sight of whitetail deer darting through the woods, hear the call of songbirds in the trees, and might even spot a black bear or two in the more remote areas. From fleeting wildlife encounters to memorable mountain panoramas, hiking near Knoxville, Tennessee, is an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss.

Note: Whether you seek a leisurely stroll beside a tranquil river, a challenging climb to reach awe-inspiring viewpoints, or a multi-day backpacking adventure, Knoxville has it all.

MUST READ: Preparing for Your Hike in Knoxville Tennessee


No matter how stunning the trail or perfect the weather, a hiking adventure can quickly turn sour without proper preparation. Knoxville, with its diverse range of trails and changing climates, necessitates thorough planning to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing.

Hiking Gear in Knoxville

The first step involves procuring the right hiking gear. Knoxville offers numerous outdoor outfitters with staff who can guide you to the most appropriate equipment based on the season and trail difficulty. From sturdy boots and moisture-wicking apparel to backpacks and navigational tools, you’ll find everything you need right here in the city.

Knowing what to expect on the trail is crucial. Always check the weather forecast before setting out and stay updated with trail conditions through local hiking groups or park services. Tennessee’s climate can be unpredictable, so pack layers and rain gear to accommodate sudden shifts in weather.

General Hiking Tips Specific to Knoxville


Hydration and nutrition are key. Carry plenty of water and high-energy snacks to replenish your energy during your hike. Remember, Knoxville is situated in bear country, so be sure to store your food properly to avoid unwanted encounters.

Finally, tread lightly. Stick to marked trails, respect wildlife from a distance, and follow a leave-no-trace policy. This ensures the preservation of Knoxville’s exquisite natural landscapes for future hikers to enjoy.

Also Read: What to Eat Before Hiking?

The 20 Best Hiking Trails Near Knoxville, Tennessee

Trails Name Distance Difficulty Location
House Mountain State Natural Area 5.8 miles Moderate Knoxville
Ijams Nature Center Trails Varies Easy Knoxville
Seven Islands State Birding Park Varies Easy Knoxville
Norris Dam State Park Varies Easy to Moderate Norris
Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park 5 miles Moderate Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Appalachian Trail – Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap 15 miles Difficult Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove Loop 11 miles Easy Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Alum Cave to Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park 11 miles Strenuous Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Max Patch, Appalachian Trail 1.4 miles Easy Near Hot Springs, NC
Obed Wild and Scenic River Varies Easy to Difficult Wartburg
Big Ridge State Park Varies Moderate Maynardville
Concord Park Trails Varies Easy Knoxville
Panther Creek State Park Varies Easy to Difficult Morristown
Frozen Head State Park Varies Moderate to Difficult Wartburg
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park 5.5 miles Easy Great Smoky Mountains National Park
East Lakeshore Trail Varies Easy to Moderate Near Lenoir City
Look Rock, Foothills Parkway 0.6 miles Easy Near Maryville
Fall Creek Falls State Park Varies Easy to Strenuous Near Spencer, TN
Devil’s Racetrack, Cumberland Trail 11.6 miles Difficult Near Caryville
Rich Mountain Loop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park 8.5 miles Moderate Great Smoky Mountains National Park

House Mountain State Natural Area


The highest peak in Knox County, House Mountain offers two main trails that boast beautiful forest scenery and panoramic views from the summit. A perfect spot for those who crave a challenging hike close to Knoxville.

Ijams Nature Center Trails

This urban paradise has a series of easy trails, perfect for families or beginners. Meander by the river, discover beautiful rock formations, and enjoy the wildlife that inhabit this peaceful refuge.

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Easy walking trails take you through this vibrant bird sanctuary. Keep an eye out for a variety of bird species and admire the stunning views of the Smoky Mountains from the river bank.

Norris Dam State Park

Norris Dam State Park Knoxville, Tennessee

Offering over 800 acres of skirting forests and diverse trails, from easy to moderate, this state park is perfect for a day out hiking, followed by a picnic with beautiful views of the Norris Reservoir.

Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains

Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains

A moderate 5-mile round trip hike, Abrams Falls features one of the most voluminous waterfalls in the Smokies. The trail offers abundant natural beauty and a rewarding view of the falls.

Appalachian Trail – Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap

Appalachian Trail - Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap

A challenging yet rewarding portion of the Appalachian Trail featuring Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, and spectacular mountainous views.

Cades Cove Loop

Cades Cove Loop Knoxville, Tennessee

A leisurely walk that offers a glimpse into the region’s history with preserved homesteads and churches along the way. Perfect for wildlife viewing, especially deer and black bears.

Alum Cave to Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains

A strenuous, yet incredibly rewarding hike leading up to Mt. LeConte. Alum Cave Trail features diverse terrain and stunning views.

Max Patch, Appalachian Trail

Max Patch, Appalachian Trail

An easy hike that leads to a bald mountain top, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Max Patch is especially beautiful at sunset.

Obed Wild and Scenic River

Obed Wild and Scenic River

This park offers trails of various lengths and difficulties, but all provide spectacular views of the Obed River, sandstone cliffs, and dense forests.

Big Ridge State Park


Situated on the Appalachian Ridge, this park offers various trails that are moderately challenging, weaving through lush forests and along the lake’s shore.

Concord Park Trails


Located in the heart of Knoxville, these easy trails are perfect for a quick nature escape. Enjoy the views of Fort Loudoun Lake and the diversity of flora.

Panther Creek State Park

Panther Creek State Park

Overlooking the Cherokee Reservoir, this park offers more than 30 miles of trails, varying from easy to difficult, making it ideal for hikers of all skill levels.

Frozen Head State Park


A park with challenging and scenic trails. The observation deck on Frozen Head Mountain offers a 360-degree view of Tennessee’s stunning landscape.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Great Smoky Mountains

An easy trail with cascading streams, old-growth forest, and well-preserved log cabins. An excellent spot for photography enthusiasts.

East Lakeshore Trail

East Lakeshore Trail

This series of easy to moderate trails run along the shores of Tellico Lake, providing beautiful water views and opportunities for birdwatching.

Look Rock, Foothills Parkway

Look Rock, Foothills Parkway

An easy, paved trail leading to an observation tower, providing a spectacular 360-degree view of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls State Park Knoxville, Tennessee

While a bit of a drive from Knoxville, this park is home to the highest waterfall in the eastern US, and offers numerous hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous.

Devil’s Racetrack, Cumberland Trail

Devil's Racetrack, Cumberland Trail

This moderate to difficult trail features unique geological formations and breathtaking views of the Cumberland Mountains from the overlook.

Rich Mountain Loop, Great Smoky Mountains

Rich Mountain Loop, Great Smoky Mountains

A moderate trail that offers wildflower viewing in spring, historical sites, and wildlife spotting opportunities, including deer and turkey.

Understanding Knoxville Hiking Trail Maps

Understanding Knoxville Hiking Trail Maps

Embarking on a hike without fully understanding your trail map can lead to unnecessary confusion, or in some cases, even become a safety concern. A map is not only a guide to your destination, but it also provides valuable information about trail difficulty, landmarks, and potential hazards.

Knoxville trail maps are relatively straightforward. They typically feature clearly marked trails with color codes or symbols indicating the level of difficulty (easy, moderate, or difficult). Landmarks, such as peaks, water bodies, or viewpoints, are also clearly indicated. Distances, both overall and between specific points, are usually provided.

Remember, it’s essential to study your trail map before setting out on your hike. That way, you’re prepared and can fully enjoy the beautiful scenery that Knoxville’s trails have to offer.

Outdoor Activities Beyond Hiking in Knoxville

While hiking is a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts in Knoxville, the city offers a plethora of other activities to enjoy. For water lovers, the Tennessee River provides excellent opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing.

Cycling enthusiasts will appreciate Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, a network of trails perfect for mountain biking. Rock climbing is available in the nearby Obed Wild and Scenic River area, known for its high-quality sandstone cliffs.

Bird watchers and nature photographers will find Seven Islands State Birding Park a haven of avian diversity. And let’s not forget the vibrant local golf courses, perfect for an afternoon tee-off. Knoxville truly has something for every outdoor adventurer.

Knoxville Camping: Extending Your Adventure

For those looking to extend their outdoor adventure in Knoxville, camping presents a fantastic opportunity. Numerous campgrounds and RV parks in and around the city cater to different preferences, whether you’re seeking the comfort of full-hookup sites or the serenity of backcountry camping.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for instance, offers various campsites, enabling hikers to truly immerse themselves in nature. Experiencing the tranquility of the night sky, the chorus of dawn.

The serenity of a misty morning in the woods enhances the hiking experience manifold, creating memories that last a lifetime. Embrace the full Knoxville adventure – hike during the day, and camp under the stars.


Knoxville, Tennessee, is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, offering an impressive array of trails for all skill levels. From the urban sanctuaries like Ijams Nature Center to the majestic peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is a trail to match every hiker’s desire.

Add to this the wealth of other outdoor activities, convenient access to hiking gear, and a rich tapestry of wildlife and landscapes, and it’s clear why Knoxville holds such appeal. Whether you’re local or visiting, make sure to lace up your boots and hit these trails.

You’ll discover not just beautiful paths, but also a journey into the heart of Tennessee’s wilderness. Happy hiking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year to go hiking in Knoxville, Tennessee?

Knoxville’s climate makes it possible to enjoy hiking year-round, but the best times are usually during the spring and fall. Spring brings beautiful wildflowers and comfortable temperatures, while fall offers vibrant foliage. Summer can be quite hot and humid, while winter, although generally mild, can be unpredictable.

What should I pack for a day of hiking near Knoxville, Tennessee?

The essentials include a map of your trail, a compass, a sturdy pair of hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing (preferably in layers), plenty of water, high-energy snacks, and a basic first aid kit. Also, consider bringing sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, sunglasses, and a rain jacket.

Are the hiking trails in Knoxville family-friendly?

Yes, many trails in and around Knoxville are suitable for families. For instance, Ijams Nature Center Trails and Concord Park Trails are relatively easy and offer interesting sights for children. Remember to always check the difficulty level of the trail before heading out and always supervise children near water or steep edges.

M. Fahad Sajjad

Founder & CEO
Meraki Writes

Meraki Writes is a distinguished content marketing agency committed to delivering exceptional content for businesses and online platforms.
With a dedicated team of skilled writers and editors, Meraki Writes
consistently produces high-quality articles, ensuring client satisfaction
and audience engagement. The same team of professionals is responsible
for crafting each insightful and well-researched article on Hike Genius, a reputable hiking niche website.

Meraki Writes

Meet Fahad Sajjad, the founder and creative force behind Meraki Writes, a dynamic content marketing agency that helps businesses grow their online presence through engaging and persuasive content. With years of experience in the industry, Fahad has honed his skills in crafting compelling stories that connect with audiences, no matter the topic or niche. He is a true wordsmith, with a passion for language and a talent for turning complex ideas into accessible, easy-to-digest content that resonates with readers. Fahad's expertise in content marketing, SEO, and social media strategy, combined with his dedication to quality and customer satisfaction, make him a valuable partner for any business looking to improve its online presence.

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