Knoxville's Urban Wilderness South Loop, Knoxville

Directions: I usually take Chapman Hwy (US 441) east out of Knoxville. Turn left onto E Moody Ave which turns into Sevierville Pike. Go thru four way stop (Round Up diner on your right) and take a left onto S Haven Rd. Follow this til it dead ends into Island Home Ave. Make a sharp right onto Island Home. Stay straight on Island Home (it bears to the left at a split with Aultman). You will find parking either at Ijams Nature center or a little further on the right at Meads Quarry. Plenty of parking, not to worry.

Trail Information: The Urban Wilderness of Knoxville is crazy with trails!! You can go to OutdoorKnoxville.com, follow the link to Urban Wilderness and get all kinds of maps and info on the trails. Someone else here has posted a bit on Ijams Nature Center but that is just the tiniest bit of this area. Most of the action starts at Meads Quarry although all the trails are linked. There is a total of over 35 miles of trails here. A small portion is paved (Will Skelton and the Ijams Nature area) and some are rough gravel double track but most of it is single track. These trails are awesome, and have lots of quick up and downs and lots of rocks and unfortunately some areas of broken glass. This place used to be a working quarry so it also became a mecca for trash dumping. Since the 70's it has been working its way back to its current state of wild and natural. Make sure to check out the Ross Quarry area. It looks like something out of Tomb Raider. I can't begin to scratch the surface of this place so make sure you check out the website. You can run a mile here or 35 miles, you decide. If you want a cardio work out take the Tharp Trace trail. Ugh! Cemetery on the right at the peak for those who couldn't hack it. ;) There are easy trails and tricky ones. It is full of other trails users and the quarry is full of canoes and paddle boarders in the summer months. Dogs are welcome. In the fall the area to the right of the Wil Skelton trail is closed for hunting. Don't take chances! I hear them blasting away in the woods.

Miscellaneous Information: There are maps available for purchase at the Ijams Nature Center. They are nice maps that will last. There are some really cool cantilever bridges in Ijams area that jut out over the river. So cool. Plus really beautiful jaggy rock cliffs and a few caves (all off limits of course).

Kate Long