Knoxville has a lot to offer – like a lot 😂
We love our makers, brewers, markets, etc. – but we can prooobably all agree that East Tennessee’s magic really culminates in those Smoky Mountains (*swoooon*) Seriously, even when we’re deep in the heart of the Scruffy City, we still eye those mountains and dream. BUT your dog does not dream. No, Spot just cries because the Smokies have a strict no-dog policy. (In their defense it’s because of, you know… bears.)
But go ahead and dry Spot’s tears because Tennessee has a surplus of state parks (56 to be exact 😉) where y’all can splash around in waterfalls and climb some scrambles for summit views. If you have a super vocal dog like me (her name is actually Tori, not Spot, and if you don’t believe she’s a vocal babe, just check out this video) then you’ll be happy to know there are soooo many within just an hour of our Scruffy City!
Small or big. Old or young. Clumsy or nimble, Knoxville has the perfect trail for your pup. So keep reading so you can get that dog’s tail waggin’! Without further ado, here are:
5 Dog-Friendly Hikes Near Knoxville, TN
1.) Triple Falls to Devils Racetrack
Can’t decide if your pooch prefers swimming or climbing? Luckily, this hike has a refreshing waterfall and gorgeous views of the valley below (and even views back into the waterfall after the climb up!). Triple Falls on Bruce Creek to Devils Racetrack is a favorite among locals – of both the two and four-legged variety 😉 This man-made three-tiered waterfall with a straight-up climb afterward is only about 30 minutes from downtown Knoxville!
There are actually two options for this trail – one is about two miles and the other is nearly six miles. Triple Falls was one of this Florida dog’s first hikes so we opted for the two-miler – plus it brings you straight to the views! The first half of the trail is along the creek with a view of the waterfall and then you cross the creek on a bridge and get ready for the hike up!
The top is an absolutely gorgeous setting. It’s nestled right next to the loud interstate, but trust me – your dog will love letting their ears flap in the wind at the top and you’ll love the photos of those goofy ears (deepest apologies to all the dogs with upright ears! 😬)
2.) DeBord Falls & Emory Gap
We mentioned earlier, this dog is from Florida – so you know she loves a good water-filled hike. DeBord Falls and Emory Gap are on a bit longer of a trail – three miles roundtrip – but the trail is mostly flat the whole way, making it a great trail for all!
The trail is located in Frozen Head State Park (about an hour outside of the city) but it is totally worth the drive. Frozen Head is perfect if you’re just starting to hike with your pup for a few reasons: it’s not overly crowded, it’s dog friendly, and the trails are wide and easy to follow so you and your doggo can learn each other’s cues together!
Pro Tip: If the three-mile trip wasn’t enough for your energetic pups, there are plenty of other great trails in this dog-friendly park!
3.) Fort Dickerson & Augusta Quarry
I swear, there will be some non-water hikes on this list but our girl is definitely a water bender 😂
Fort Dickerson is home to a host of trails and a massive quarry to chill out in. But the best part? It is a grand total of FOUR minutes from downtown Knoxville. Seriously, this is why outdoor enthusiasts love our Scruffy City! 😂🙌 The trails do get a little wonky here so the best advice I can give you is to just follow this New2Knox blog post to a tee. Study it, write it all down, anything you need to not get lost. But once you’r
e able to make your way down to the quarry, you and your dog can jump in that refreshing quarry water to cool off before the hike back up! (Or you can drive right up and park, but what’s the fun in that? 😉)
4.) House Mountain
We’re finally trading in water vibes for summit hikes! House Mountain is the tallest peak in all of Knox County standing tall at 2,064 feet above sea level. That may not seem too intense, but don’t underestimate her. The trail is almost completely straight up, has precarious moments, and definitely kicks some booty!
This hike can be challenging for less experienced or older dogs – so before you go, make sure your dog is in top-notch doggo shape (and bring plenty of water!). Since there is a bit of a rock scramble, I would also suggest bringing a dog airlift sling. If a worst-case scenario happens, this will make the hike down way easier on both you and your four-legged friends.
5.) Seven Islands State Birding Park
If you and your dog are just starting out on your hiking journey (or you just like a calm pace with scenic views) Seven Islands State Birding Park is a wonderful place to go. Basically the opposite of House Mountain, the trails are accessible and easy making it a great place to train. It’s only about half an hour outside of the city but feels like it’s a million miles away with plenty of scenery and peaceful wildlife. (And a boat ramp if your dog wants to get back in the water!)
Before you go…
These are just a few of the great options in and around Knoxville to have a fun hike with your dog! It may be surprising to not see The Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a hike list like this, but again that’s just because dogs are not allowed in the park for their own safety. (You know… bears 😳) So try one of these great state parks or head around the corner to SoKno – also the perfect neighborhood to share post-hike beers and pizza with your doggo!
Speaking of which, DISCOVER 7 DOG-FRIENDLY BUSINESSES HERE!