Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Towns Nominee: Knoxville, Tenn.

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Knoxville is situated on the winding banks of the Tennessee River. It’s the gateway city to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which offers 900 miles of hiking and backpacking. The Appalachian Trail runs through the heart of the Smokies, and the highest point on the A.T.—Clingmans Dome—is a must-see for any mountain enthusiast.

Surrounding Knoxville and the Smokies is Cherokee National Forest, which boasts an impressive array of outdoor opportunities, including whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River and hiking in the Bald River Gorge—the newest proposed wilderness area.

But you don’t have to venture beyond city limits to enjoy Knoxville’s outdoor offerings. The city itself is home to dozens of urban parks, greenways, and gardens, many of which are linked together by Knoxville’s unique Urban Wilderness, a wild corridor and trail network running through town. One of the first of its kind in the Southeast, the Knoxville Urban Wilderness is home to 1,000 acres of hiking trails, mountain bike paths, civil war historic sites, and diverse ecological features, all just three miles from the heart of downtown.


DID YOU KNOW? Most people think of the Smokies when they visit Knoxville, but another national park unit is just north of Knoxville. The Big South Fork National Recreation Area offers an oasis of scenic river gorges, remote wilderness, steep cliffs with incredible climbing routes, and some of the biggest arches in the East—without the crowds of the Smokies.

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