You don’t have to leave Knoxville to find a beautiful local hike with all the fun of a hike in the Smokies! Drive just 20-30 minutes east of downtown to the beautiful 500-acre House Mountain State Natural Area, which has a trail system that leads to some amazing lookouts, including the highest point in Knox County! From these scenic vistas, you’ll find views of the Unaka and Cumberland mountains about thirty miles away, which run parallel across the valley.
This heavily wooded area contains 5.8 miles of trail which are rated moderate in difficulty and wind around steep slopes with interesting rock outcrops. The steep terrain and rich variety of plant and bird life found here are unique given the area’s close proximity to an urban area.
When you’re close to the 2,100-foot crest, keep an eye out for chestnut oak, Virginaia, pitch, and table mountain pines along with a variety of flowering plants to include huckleberry, trailing arbutus, and mountain laurel. At lower elevations, you’ll find more sugar maples, tulip poplar, ash, and buckeye trees along with a wide variety of wildflowers.
During bird migration, which is heavier in the spring and fall, House Mountain is an excellent place to spot hawks and warblers. Other avian favorites that call this place home include woodpeckers, tangers, and wild turkey.
With three main trails connecting to reach up to and along the ridge, you have a few options for which path to take. If you want to see it all, give yourself a good half-day to hike up the Mountain Trail, head out to the East Overlook, back along the Crest Trail to the West Overlook, then back down West Overlook Trail. Bathrooms and parking are conveniently located at the trailhead on Hogskin Road, so all you need to prepare is your water, snacks, and appropriate clothing layers.
Get Out & Play at House Mountain – you won’t be disappointed by the quality of hiking we have right in our own back yard. Find more information on House Mountain and other Knoxville hiking at OutdoorKnoxville.com