I went on a road trip to visit one of my best friends and when we arrived at our AirBnB spot (another post about this soon!) they had generously left us flyers for the local activities. Ijams caught our attention right away with it’s beautiful pictures and interesting name. What the heck is an Ijams anyways?? Well it’s a place of awesomeness that I’m about to share with you! I know that Tennessee is beautiful by default, but I was surprised to see how many parks Knoxville has. It’s very nature friendly there, and if you need a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, pay this city a visit.
The drive to Ijams is peaceful and serene so when you arrive, it’s no surprise how beautiful it is just through the parking lot. The parking lot is HUGE, and we were lucky enough to snatch a spot near the guest center. If you only want to go to Mead’s Quarry there is another parking lot closer to that end of the park.
As you walk inside the guest center you are greeted by someone at their front desk, and they will show you the park on their maps. You can buy one for $1, and it helps the park out which is a huge bonus. There are several things to see and do, and these two maps break it down nicely. One is for the actual park itself and the other is for the quarry area. Inside the welcome center they have a few animals to visit, along with a gift shop full of other assortments to take home. They have bathrooms and plenty of drinks & snacks you can purchase before you head into the wilderness.
After we purchased our map, we decided to head from the Visitor Center to Meads Quarry by way of the North Cove Trail and River Trail. We ventured out into the woods onto a path that was laid out perfectly for walking but there were a few inclines, so be mindful of your surroundings. My friend had a sprained ankle and was still able to traverse the trail without much strain. There are different levels of trails from easy to most difficult, and everything was very clearly marked. We wanted to see the bridge that is posted in all the main pictures of Ijams in the brochures, and it doesn’t take very long to walk down to it at all.
It’s a very scenic place, and the bridge spans quite a way so it puts you right over the water of the Tennessee River. In the middle of the bridge there is also a cave that you can look into, but you are no longer allowed to enter because it fills with water! There is a sign to tell you the history, and sadly I went before I started the blog so I can’t recall what all it said! (sorry guys, I’ll do better in the future!! )
I think that some people feel that once you’ve been into the woods, you’ve seen them all, but that is truly just not the case here. The trees loom overhead and it creates such a beautiful scene. Even though fall was around the bend, the leaves were still so green and vibrant. I can only imagine when the leaves are changing into the fall artistry of TN.
I am a nerd, so once I got to the cave I had to hoot and holler to see if I could hear my voice echoing off it’s dark walls. Actually, it was more of me saying, “Lalala Luuuuke, I am your FATHERRRRR…” I peeked inside for a minute and then headed onward with the journey to admire the view.
When you’re standing on the bridge you can hear the cows across the river mooing. They probably thought I was a weirdo yelling into that old cave! Now as some of you already know, I have a love for all things creepy as well as the odd and unique. Once we hit the end of the River Trail we happened across this interesting looking dock. I’m not entirely sure of what it is, but I had to walk over for a closer look.
When we got over there I found this platform in the trees off the beaten path. I wandered over to it to grab an interesting photo. Then I reluctantly continued onward… not here for the creepy Beth…. we’re here for NATURE!!!! Ok, who am I kidding? I’m always down for some creepy stuff and I can usually find it in most spots somehow or another.
Once we got to the quarry I was blown away… it is breath taking. The water is so pretty, and it almost shimmers a greenish blue color. During the summer they allow swimming there as well. There are a few different types of trails that you can take on this one too. You can walk about halfway around the quarry seeing it from different heights. If you are feeling adventurous go Mead’s or Ross Marble quarries as well. Those trails are much more steep and I didn’t get to go up them this time, but will make a point of it next time.
We wandered over the edge and looked down into the quarry wishing it were warm enough to jump in! I can only imagine how amazing it is in the summertime… Mental note, come back in the Fall and Summer!
While heading to explore the quarry, I met a new friend!
I swear guys, if I lived anywhere near this place I would be here for all seasons. There is so much to do and see! I think you could seriously plan a vacation around the park itself. They have several events throughout the year, so maybe base it around that for planning your mini vacation. As I mentioned above, I love the color of the water, it makes me think of tropical waters.
After traversing the steep hills to find the remains from the quarry days, I realized my friend’s sprained ankle was not having all this crazy climbing. We headed to higher ground, and started our walk back towards the Welcome Center. There is a sign telling the history of Mead Quarry with a timeline. It’s pretty cool to see how things used to look! Next time I HAVE to get to both quarries for creepy pictures.
If you go up by the railroad tracks you will walk right up to the bird watching area. It’s very peaceful up there.
If you don’t want to go through all the trails again to get back, you can take the bike trail to the Welcome Center. If you take that route you’ll pass a green house with a lot of interesting information inside. The shelter next to the Welcome Center is where they do different events daily. They had Salsa Dancing when we were there and it was so cute to see all the dancer’s smiles. This park is truly a gem in the area and best of all it’s free!! If you’re in the area, check it out. If you’re not, make a special trip to go, it’s more than worth it!!!
2915 Island Home Ave
Knoxville, TN 37920
Phone number (865) 577-4717
Business website ijams.org