At an elevation of 2,064 feet, House Mountain is Knox County's highest point and is less than 30 minutes from downtown; perfect for an afternoon hike or trail run. There are a few different trails to the summit, so you've got options.
What Makes It Great
Finding a good uphill hike near the city is a hard task, but in Knoxville, House Mountain takes care of this problem. If you are looking for something to get your heart pumping instead of using the much flatter Urban Wilderness Corridor, this may be the perfect place for you.
The views here are surprisingly good for a hike so close to a major city. With nearly six miles of mountain trails, this park gives you a Smoky Mountain feel with a fraction of the travel time. The blue-blazed Mountain Trail is a strenuous route. In about one mile, you'll gain a grueling 1,000 feet, but the views from the top make the climbing well worth it. At the fork before the trail ascends up the mountain, take the trail to the right. You may want your trekking poles for the Mountain Trail; they'll help you with the climb for sure, but they'll come in extremely handy for the knee-jarring descent. Please stay on the designated trail, as there's been erosion from hikers making their own short cuts between the switchbacks. This hike is especially worthwhile in the winter when the leaves have fallen, and you can enjoy unobstructed views along the entire climb.
Another option is the 1.5-mile Crest Ridge Trail. This relatively flat, relaxing walk takes you around the top of House Mountain. Along this hike, you can see the Unaka and Cumberland mountain ranges to the north, the Smoky Mountains to the south, and on a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of downtown Knoxville from the West End Overlook. From the East End Overlook, views of Clinch Mountain can be seen to the northeast. The Clinch Mountain range runs all the way to Southwest Virginia. To get back down House Mountain, descend via the West End Overlook Trail.
If you want to strap on your cycling shoes instead of your hiking boots, House Mountain is also a great place to find road biking routes. Use the parking lot as a base and bike in either direction on backroads that take you over rolling hills, past grazing cattle in rural farmlands, and alongside babbling creeks. You will encounter some steep hills, but the downhills are like riding your own personal roller coaster.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone! Hikers, bikers, and trail runners all have something here. It is a fabulous wilderness getaway without a lengthy arrival time. For trail runners and hikers training for something bigger, try running laps of the two summit trails to get a close-to-home mountain workout in.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking area can be found off of Hogskin Road and is the only parking lot for the hiking trails. All of the House Mountain Trails leave from this parking lot.