Two Quarries? No Worries!
One of my (Caitlyn’s) favorite things about moving to Knoxville can be summed up in one word: water 🤩
There is so. much. water. in Knoxville and it makes this Atlanta girl’s heart so happy. We’re talkin’ endless lakes, the Tennessee River flowing through the city, and some of the coolest gems Knoxville has to offer: Quarries!
Knoxville has a good handful of water-filled quarries, but we’re going to highlight two of the most popular ones. Mead’s Quarry at Ijams and Fort Dickerson Quarry are both situated in South Knox, a part of the Knox Urban Wilderness route, rich in history, and still stunning to this day! These beautiful limestone and marble quarries are surrounded by walking/biking trails, and can be thoroughly enjoyed in the warm months by paddle boarding, swimming and kayaking.
Augusta Quarry is located in Fort Dickerson Park, the historic site of the Civil War battle over Knoxville. At the top of the park, you can see cannons pointing down towards the city where Union soldiers staked out the highest lookout point in Knoxville.
The Augusta Quarry was added to Fort Dickerson park a good century later, in the late 1900s. City officials saw potential in the giant pool of water, stating that it could be “Knoxville’s largest swimming pool” in the future – and they were not far off in their vision!
In the last couple years, the park has been renovated by the Aslan Foundation and City of Knoxville. It now features a grand entrance off Chapman Highway, complete with a finished gravel parking area at the bottom entrance off of Blount Ave. There have been rumors of expanding the park and adding in bathrooms and concessions in the near future… so stay tuned for any updates on those future plans!
You can experience this quarry in all its “quarry-glory” on sunny days when the sun is high in the sky, illuminating the blue-green water like a tropical oasis. Music echoes and bounces off of rocks from portable speakers brought by groups of friends. You can almost always spot an Eno or two. Fort Dickerson may be “Knoxville’s largest swimming pool” but it’s often also “Knoxville’s biggest impromptu party!” And best part? Admission is free?
Fort Dickerson park is also pup friendly so bring your furry friend along to enjoy the cool water and take a dip with you after enjoying the surrounding trails.
Mead’s Quarry can be found just slightly down from the main parking area at Ijams Nature Center. This former limestone and marble quarry used to provide marble to prominent buildings all over the United States – including the JP Morgan Library in New York City and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C (hence why Knoxville is sometimes referred to as “the marble city”!). A few decades and a few hundred volunteer hours of cleanup later, Mead’s is the perfect spot to bring friends visiting the city.
Rent a paddle board or kayak from the River Sports Outfitters post and head down to the water. If there is a wait on rentals (or you simply want to go the free route), take a swim in the sectioned off swimming area of the quarry. (We also suggest jumping in after a long hike through the nature center.) However you choose to enjoy the water, end the experience with a beer from The Outpost for ultimate summer vibes?
Pro-Tip: Mead’s is even home to tiny freshwater jellyfish that rise to the water’s surface in the hot summer months. Don’t worry – they’re only about the size of a quarter and way too small to sting you!
So grab some friends and make some plans to adventure down to one of the Knoxville water quarries – then let us know your favorite way to chill out on the water!
DISCOVER ANOTHER WAY TO GET ON THE WATER – KNOXVILLE ADVENTURE COLLECTIVE – HERE!
Check Them Out:
610 Augusta Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920
Ijams Nature Center:
2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920