CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather in East Tennessee, you’ll want to hike House Mountain, a 500-acre natural area located in Knox County approximately eight miles from Knoxville. The hiking trails are short, but steep, challenging, and rewarding. The 2,100-foot crest of House Mountain provides great views of the Unakas and Cumberlands some 30 miles away, or northeast to the adjacent Clinch Mountain.
According to Knox County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, before erosion by Big Flat Creek, “the gently dipping bedrock layers underlying House Mountain once extended to Clinch Mountain, whose base lies approximately two and half miles to the northeast. The bedrock structure represents a large synclinal fold that formed during the Appalachian mountain building event called the Alleghenian Orogeny.”
The western trail to the crest is .8 miles and the eastern trail is 1.5 miles. The western trail is narrow, steep, and has a few turns that require careful negotiating. Both trails are connected at the top by the wider Crest Trail that is 1.5 miles long.
Many hikers bring their dogs with them on the trail on House Mountain. From time to time, a courteous wait is needed to allow hikers coming down and hikers going up enough room to pass one another. Photo by Celebrate Knoxville.
In a few places, the great sandstone boulders serve as resting places or picnic spots for hikers or artists sketching the chestnut oaks and mountain pines. Photographers are often seen kneeling in the moist dirt by streambeds to catch a close-up of wildflowers. The north-facing slopes support a forest of sugar maple, tulip poplar, ash, and buckeye.
Don’t forget the binoculars: House Mountain is also a favorite place for birdwatchers. Migrating hawks and warblers can be observed from the mountain. Ruffed grouse, pileated woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, wild turkeys, and more than one hundred additional species of birds have been observed on the mountain.
Gurgling from the cool streams provide a musical backdrop for hikers making their way up the slopes. House Mountain is drained by several unnamed tributaries of Roseberry Creek and by Hogskin and Brice Branches, which divide it from the 1,500 feet high McAnnally Ridge, which lies to the east and south.
To get to House Mountain from Knoxville, Tennessee, take I-40 East. Exit on U.S. Highway 11W (Rutledge Pike) and go north and east on Rutledge Pike. After about 10 miles, look for the “House Mountain State Park” sign on the right side of the highway and then turn left on Idumea Road. Turn left on Hogskin Road. The parking area is less than a mile on the right. Restrooms are available next to the parking lot. There is no admission fee to hike the trails.
Benches and signage along the trails are provided in memory of John Evans, a Scout leader and founding member/active volunteer for Friends of House Mountain. Enjoy the trails and remember to Leave No Trace.
Editor’s Update April 2017: If you’re interested in more hiking opportunities, Brian Bradshaw has just published “Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The USA”. You can check it out here: https://bootbomb.com/info/