Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Mead's Quarry Lake is located in the heart of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, and it is a favorite among those who call the Scruffy City home. What was once a booming marble quarry in the mid-1800s is now the perfect destination for an escape from downtown Knoxville, located just 4 miles away. In 2014 the quarry was added to the National Park Service's National Register for Historical Places.

As you explore the quarry, you'll quickly see that there is a perfect blend of today's outdoor life as well as an appreciation for the history of the area. Today, the 25-acre lake is open for paddleboard and canoe rentals as well as swimming during the summer months. You'll find access for private boats and boards at the new Ijams Landing, located a short distance from the lake.

However, Knoxville's local outfitter, River Sports, and Ijams Nature Center have made it extremely convenient to roll into the parking area and hop on the water. As you paddle your way around the lake, you may even spot a freshwater jelllyfish or two. If you do, there's no need for concern; the jellyfish are actually a sign that the water is healthy.

If you visit on a weekday, you'll probably only share the lake with a few others. If you stop by on a hot and humid Tennessee day, be prepared to join in with many others seeking a break from the heat. If that is the case, get to know the locals or paddle down to the southwest end of the lake for some solitude. As you explore that side, you'll also notice one of the many caves at Ijams.

Before or after enjoying the water, take time to explore the trails in the area as well. You'll find many tucked-away secrets in one of the most historic and beautiful corners of Knoxville.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

Not Required


Deep swimming hole. Easy access from downtown. Rentals available. Outdoor activities nearby.


Crowds. No private boats.


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park


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