5 Knoxville Area Hikes That Are Perfect in the Spring

The Smoky Mountains  National Park is full of sublime spring hikes.
The Smoky Mountains National Park is full of sublime spring hikes. Phil Horton
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Spring has officially arrived in Knoxville, and with it comes the itch to get outside and soak up the warm temps and leafy, green landscapes. With that, we've got a handful of great Knoxville area hikes to quench all the sunbathing and flower-frolicking desires you've been holding onto all winter. From easy jaunts close to town to slightly tougher outings in the Smokies, here are some great options for experiencing the Knoxville area in bloom.

1. Porters Creek Trail

The babbling waters of Porters Creek
The babbling waters of Porters Creek jclifton59

Porters Creek Trail, located in the Smoky Mountains National Park , is great any time of year, but its low elevation and gentle slopes make it a perfect March and April hike, when some of the higher elevation hikes are still unpredictable due to snow and ice. This gentle, peaceful trail mixes a colorful wildflower display with several historical landmarks. You'll follow the banks of babbling Porter's Creek for a mile or so while being treated to a dazzling display of trillium.

Along the hike, you'll also notice some old stone walls, remnants of the Elbert Cantrell farmstead, followed by the tombstones of Ownby Cemetery, both from the early 20th century. Other historic landmarks along the trail include the John Messner farm site and a cabin built by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club in the mid-1930s. This is a wonderful, gentle spring hike in a less frequented part of the park.

2. LeConte via Alum Cave

The giant cairn at High Top marks the true summit of Mount LeConte.
The giant cairn at High Top marks the true summit of Mount LeConte. Logan Mahan

You might not expect this to be on your spring hike list because of its high elevation, but hear us out. LeConte is best known for its spectacular mountain-top views, lush ecosystems, and the LeConte Lodge, where guests can spend the night in a cozy cabin atop one of the highest peaks in the park. LeConte is admittedly breathtaking on a clear-skied summer's day. But it can be equally beautiful when it's covered in the thick, otherworldly mist that often shrouds the peak in spring. Hiking up the abandoned Alum Cave Trail on a chilly spring morning, passing under the lonely Arch Rock and Alum Cave bluffs, and warming up in the LeConte Lodge gift shop with hot chocolate and a handful of other hikers is one of the best ways to enjoy LeConte and the Alum Cave Trail this time of year.

3. Hastie Natural Area

Looking for a spring hike a little closer to home? The Hastie Natural Area has a beautiful display of flowers and other blooming plants. And it's situated just a few miles from downtown Knoxville in the ever-growing, ever-developing Urban Wilderness. Part of the the 40-mile South Loop trail network  in Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, Hastie Natural Area connects to Marie Myers Park, Ross Marble Quarry, and Ijams Nature Center to the north and Forks of the River to the east.

4. Dogwood Arts Trails & Gardens (April 15-May 1)

The Knoxville Trails & Garden Show is from April 15-May 1 in 2016.
The Knoxville Trails & Garden Show is from April 15-May 1 in 2016. Jeff McClain

Speaking of the Urban Wilderness , the 1000-acre wilderness expanse in South Knoxville will be featured in this year's Dogwood Arts Trails & Gardens Show . One of the founding traditions of now-ubiquitous Dogwood Arts  is the Trail & Gardens self-guided tour system, where nature lovers can hike, run, or bike along curated "trails"—roads, streets, and byways specifically selected for their outstanding dogwood bloom displays. This year's featured trail is in Holston Hills, but you can find the full list of trail (along with maps and descriptions of each trail) on the Dogwod Arts website .

5. House Mountain

House Mountain is an easy drive from downtown Knoxville.
House Mountain is an easy drive from downtown Knoxville. Wikimedia Commons

Some major erosion damage has occurred on the mountain over the past few years, as the park has grown in popularity, so be sure to stay on the trails and practice caution after heavy rainfall. House Mountain is so close to Knoxville, there's really no excuse for outdoor-loving locals not to take advantage of this beautiful Knoxville treasure—especially during spring.

 

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