In the Greater Knoxville vicinity we are fortunate to be surrounded by
numerous off-road running venues. Ranging from tranquil mulched trails
and mown grassy pathways to jeep roads and rugged single-track trails,
city, county, and state parks offer varied off-road running experiences,
all within a short drive of metropolitan Knoxville.
Urban Wilderness Loop & Trails
The 1,000-acre Knoxville Urban Wilderness Corridor along Knoxvilles
downtown waterfront contains ten parks, nearly twenty miles of recreational
trails, three civil war forts, historic settlement sites, and diverse
ecological features and recreational amenities. The corridor links the
existing assets and the future acquired properties into an incredible
historical, recreational, cultural and environmental experience.
More maps and
North Boundary Greenway
Popularly known as the Guard Shack Trail System, the North Boundary trails
were once exclusively open to U.S. Department of Energy employees. Now
managed by the City of Oak Ridge, these broad, mostly graveled roads traverse
a wooded section of Black Oak Ridge. Routes of eight to thirteen miles
or more are easily accomplished.
I.C. King Park
A delightful circuit of single-track trails, the system at I.C. King
Park south of Knoxville offers up to nine miles of winding, hilly footpaths.
Frequented by mountain bikers as well as runners, the area is a hidden
gem just five miles south of the University of Tennessee
An outdoorsman's paradise, more than twenty-eight miles of rolling, twisting,
single-track and double-track trails await the intrepid trail runner at
Haw Ridge, situated on a rugged peninsula along the Clinch River between
Oak Ridge and Knoxville. So much trail awaits that one can arrive to what
appears a full parking lot and complete a run while encountering nary
Norris Dam State Park
Here, adjacent to the Clinch River above and below Norris Dam, many miles
of trails await the avid trail runner. From the nearly level trail paralleling
Lower Clear Creek, to the knee-stiffening, quad-busting grades of Ridgecrest
and Lakeside, the trails in and around the Norris Municipal Watershed
and Norris Dam State Park offer a challenging and rewarding array of single-track
and jeep roads.
Home to the annual Trail That Can't Be Concord race, this trail system
off Northshore Drive out near Farragut is largely unknown to the tens
of thousands who live within minutes of its trailheads. Solely single-track
offerings wind and climb up and down through thick undergrowth beneath
a dense tree canopy along Fort Loudoun Lake.
Victor Ashe Park
A relatively new park owned by the City of Knoxville, Victor Ashe Park
is a wonderful example of intelligent multi-use. Wrapped around several
well-built and maintained soccer fields is a mulched pathway that runs
through woods and fields alike. While only a mile and a half in length,
the mulched trail can be combined with a paved greenway or a bushwhack
through undeveloped parkland to create an enjoyable little run.
Connects to Northwest
Black Oak Ridge
The newest trail system in the region, the Black Oak Ridge trails were
recently given over to Oak Ridge Greenways by DOE. Located a bit west
of the Guard Shack on Highway 58, the trailhead is on Blair Road. Much
like the Guard Shack loop, the trails clamber up and down Black Oak Ridge
with significant grades and nice vistas.
Detailed trail map
Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge
Just twenty minutes west of downtown Knoxville is one of the best kept
secrets in the area. The trails at Seven Islands, a relatively new Knox
County park, are largely grassy, with a few challenging stretches of wooded
single-track. Closed to mountain-bikers, these trails offer a degree of
solitude unavailable in many trail running venues, along with grand views
of the Smokies and the Cumberland Escarpment.
Melton Hill Park
In the far northwestern reaches of Knox County lies a park astride a
scenic bend in the Clinch River. Mown grassy pathways are maintained year-round
and connect with a number of stretches of wooded trail, including the
infamous Beast. Much of the trail system is easily navigable, with an
additional hilly section in the eastern quadrant of the park.
I-140 take the Hardin Valley Exit, go west, turn onto Steele Rd., right
beside Hardin Valley Elementary School. Go left at next intersection,
Sam Lee Rd. to Couch Mill to Williams Bend Rd runs right into park
Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area
Just east of Ijams Nature Center is an area of more than three hundred
acres of grass and woodland. Managed by the State of Tennessee for multi-use,
including hunting, part of the area is maintained in food crops for birds,
including sunflowers and corn, while additional acreage is wooded. The
trails in places are obscure but rewarding and offer visas of the French
Ijams Nature Center
A world-class nature center just a few miles from downtown Knoxville,
Ijams offers well over 160 acres of pristine woodland for hiking and trail
running. Mulched trails careen up and down wooded bluffs and along a wonderful
wooden riverfront boardwalk. A newer, more difficult trail circumvents
beautiful Meade's Quarry across from the original nature center, and an
even newer acquisition will offer more opportunities in the future.
This restricted gravel road off Bethel Valley Road outside Oak Ridge
offers a flat to rolling two mile stretch snaking along a thickly wooded
peninsula along Melton Hill Lake. At the far end of the road, the gravel
ends and a rather steep rolling hill ascent challenges the trail runner,
reaching at the top a grassy trail overlooking a wondrous view of the
river, eventually looping back to the original road. Out'n'back, the trail
isn't much more than four miles, but is excellent for novices or as a
return from a layoff.