KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Legacy Parks Executive Director Carol Evans is an expert on finding the best hiking spots in Knox County. She says she likes a hike with a view to reward herself, so hiking during the winter months when all the leaves are dead gives her a lot of options. Here are her top five:
1. House Mountain
“The reward of is the overlook. Have a little snack and have some water and then you can decide, 'Want to do more or I want to do less.' If you're kind of new to hiking, having those options and engaging how you feel is great," Evans said about the loop options for the steep hike.
2. Tharp Trace
At Ijams Nature Center, the Tharp Trace trail takes hikers up the hill and around the quarry for a 1.2-mile hike filled with views, and even a historic cemetery.
"It's a great family hike that feels adventurous," Evans said.
3. Dickerson Park
In South Knoxville, the newly renovated Dickerson Park offers a few different trails that loop around the quarry. When the leaves are dead in the winter, hikers can sometimes catch glimpses of the Smokies.
4. UT Gardens
It's not a traditional hike, but the UT Gardens off Neyland Drive offers beautiful walking paths for the less adventurous.
It's very flat. It's beautiful, you can walk the trails. It's so wonderfully lush," Evans said.
5. Dogwood Community Trail
This lesser-known trail is located behind Dogwood Elementary in South Knoxville. Along with the views, the trail features a few outdoor classrooms and plant species labels so you can learn about the trees and shrubs on your route.
“It's a wonderful trail that takes you through this little outdoor classroom that's been built by volunteers associated with the school. There's a beautiful little historic cemetery back in there, and then the trail connects into Lippencott Park, which is a city park on the top of the ridge," Evans said.