Knoxville’s past and present is tied to this river. Eight beautiful riverside parks offer spectacular views and water access—plus paved greenways, natural trails, sprawling open space, and more. Starting in downtown Knoxville, the heart and soul of East Tennessee, you’ll find more than 90 restaurants, over 40 shops in beautifully restored buildings, festivals, world-class theatres, parks, and museums in less than one square mile.
The first stop is Suttree Landing Park, home to Knoxville’s Second Bell Fest, with views of downtown along the riverwalk. An accessible boat launch is perfect for a quick paddle down the river and back.
The River Landing at Ijams Nature Center features hiking and biking trails, lake paddling and swimming, nature programs, and rock climbing. Volunteer Landing is another top pick for its marina, Bicentennial boat launch, and three-mile greenway parallel to the water. It’s also your boarding spot for river cruises on The Star of Knoxville Riverboat or the Volunteer Princess.
Making your way west, UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm is a hidden gem that lines the banks of the river with trails, open green spaces, and an amphitheater while Lakeshore Park spans a massive 185 acres as the four-mile greenway winds around the shoreline, offering beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. Further down the Tennessee, Concord Park puts you on the river with ease thanks to a beach, kayak and paddle board rentals, and boat launches. Plan your trip around a Summer Concert at the Cove and enjoy local music at sundown.
There’s really no end to the adventure. The Holston River, the longest and most scenic tailwater in the Tennessee Valley, is one of Tennessee’s premier fly fishing destinations. An easy paddle from Holston River Park to downtown Knoxville offers non-stop scenic beauty and surprising glimpses of blue heron, otters, and other river inhabitants.
Speaking of wildlife, Seven Islands State Birding Park is the signature start of an experience along the French Broad, the third oldest river in the world. The park earns its national reputation for exceptional birding with more than 190 species of birds sighted, including songbirds, hawks, Barn Owls, and waterfowl.
Few cities make it so easy or so enjoyable to get on a river as Knoxville, Tenn.
Cover photo by Dudley Photography