Ales to Trails: Pair Local Craft Breweries with These Outstanding Knoxville Trails

Knoxville is filled with more than 50 miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, allowing you lots of options for cycling, running, hiking, and mountain biking within the city limits.
Knoxville is filled with more than 50 miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, allowing you lots of options for cycling, running, hiking, and mountain biking within the city limits. Kevin Humphrey
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In order for a city to be the perfect outdoor getaway, it needs two key features: Miles and miles of refreshingly diverse trails where beginners and experts alike can find joy and adventure and, of course, lots of great beer. Happily, Knoxville is rich in both of these things. With 50 miles of trails in the Urban Wilderness, Knoxville’s in-city trail system, plus several other preserves and natural areas sprinkled around the area, even locals are hard-pressed to explore every nook and cranny of the city’s growing trail network. Top that off with new craft breweries springing up everywhere, and you’ve got yourself a superb spot for a trail-to-pub adventure. We’ve paired five of our favorite trails with local breweries to get you started.

Shulz Bräu Brewing Company + Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Park Trails

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The view from Sharp’s Ridge is like no other to be found in Knoxville. Though only 10 minutes from downtown, the park’s overlook shows off a view of the city’s iconic skyline set against the rolling contours of the Smoky Mountains in the distance. Sharp’s Ridge features almost five miles of multi-use trails and one expert-level mountain bike downhill trail. The trails have exceptional drainage, making them perfect when other areas are too wet to hike or ride. When you’ve finished admiring the vista, head to Shulz Bräu for a selection of traditional German beers. All of the ales and lagers are brewed according to German beer purity laws with only quality natural ingredients, and the massive space can seat several hundred people in its "Great Hall" and outdoor biergarten. Did you have an especially grueling day on the trails? Shulz Bräu has you covered with a liter stein, the largest beer served in Knoxville.

Blackhorse Pub and Brewery + The Knoxville City Greenways

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The Greenway system in Knoxville is seriously impressive, totaling about 45 miles citywide and making many parts of the spread-out town extremely accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. A great jumping-off point is Tyson Park near UT’s campus. From here you can head in several different directions, with a popular route being to head west along Third Creek about two miles to the shops and restaurants in the Bearden area. Once you’re there, ride or walk right on up to Blackhorse Pub and Brewery for some quality beer and an array of tempting pub fare. Run by a husband and wife duo with lifelong ties to Knoxville, the brewery is pouring seven year-round beers as well as a creative selection of rotating seasonals.

Balter Beerworks + Baker Creek Preserve Trails

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Make sure to grab your helmet before you set off for Baker Creek—it’s home to Knoxville’s new and gnarly downhill mountain bike trails that comprise the most recent addition to the Urban Wilderness. If you’re not an adrenaline junkie, no worries. There are almost seven miles of trails at the 100-acre preserve ranging from easy to extreme, including a kids-only beginner loop, a pump track, and an imaginative adventure play ground. Five of the trails are multi-use and range in difficulty, and three additional trails are one-way and only for bikes. When you’re finished tearing it up at Baker Creek, pop over to Balter Beerworks for cold brews and a fun seasonal menu. The brewery opened in 2016 in a renovated service station, and its good vibes and trendy atmosphere have made it a fast favorite. Cruise in on your bike and receive a dollar off your drafts any time.

Downtown Grill and Brewery + IC King Park

Just south of Knoxville, IC King is a hidden gem among the city’s many parks with eight miles of multi-use trails wrapping around a peaceful inlet of the Tennessee River called Knob Creek. The 219-acre park is heavily forested has two parking lots that the trails stretch between. A shoreline out and back of the Lower Lake Loop is relatively flat and makes a nice five-mile round trip, while the Upper Lake Loop offers up some of the steepest singletrack in town. Afterward, head back into the city for a visit to Downtown Grill and Brewery, one of Knoxville’s staple establishments located on Historic Gay Street. The huge building is decorated with bits and pieces of local history, and the menu has everything from burgers to Mexican-style cuisine.

Alliance Brewing Company + Urban Wilderness’ South Loop

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At 12.5 miles all the way around, the South Loop is the big daddy of trails in Knoxville, offering a grand tour of the Urban Wilderness. Mead’s Quarry is a great place to start and from there the loop can be completed in either direction, though we recommend going counterclockwise. The multi-use trail is easy to follow by its frequent purple blazes, and it weaves through William Hastie Natural Area, Marie Myers Park, and the Anderson School Trails before wrapping up at Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. For a truly thorough look into the beauty and extensiveness of Knoxville’s local trails, the South Loop is unbeatable. For your post-adventure brews, stop by Alliance in South Knoxville, just a couple of minutes from the trailhead. The brewery offers 12 taps, special events, and an unmatched seriousness about quality beer.

Originally written by RootsRated Media for Visit Knoxville.

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