Must See and Do


Visitor Center

Stop by the Visitor Center to buy a trail map so you can fully explore all the trails, special locations and learn about events and programs like our regular creature features! Close by are Jo’s Grove, Alice’s Greenhouse and trail heads. Housed within are restrooms, rotating artwork shows, exhibits and gift shop.

Rent a Canoe or SUP at Mead’s Quarry

Our recreational partner, River Sports Outfitters, will kit you out to enjoy a paddle on Mead’s Quarry Lake. Try your hand in a canoe, kayak or SUP (stand up-paddle-board). This post-industrial natural area affords gorgeous views and during the summer, you may even catch a glimpse of freshwater jellyfish in the lake!

Jo’s Grove

A nature playscape designed just for children to imagine, explore, and find whimsy and merriment; a special place for children to touch the earth, and in turn be transformed by it. The annual fairy house and gnome home competition is held here.

The Keyhole at Historic Ross Marble

Images will linger in your mind long after you leave this amazing stone structure located on the Ross Marble Quarry Loop. The views from the Rock Bridge above overlooking what local’s call God’s Chair are stunning. Ross Marble is now listed on the National Register for Historic Places for its part in the history of the nation’s Tennessee Marble industry.

Home Site

For so long the Ijams family homestead, the 20-acre Home Site is the birthplace of the nature center. And in many ways it is still the same. Wander the myriad trails around terraced gardens, ponds, rock pools and take a stroll to the overlook on the Tennessee River and imagine where shirt-and-tied ornithologists documented countless bird species in days gone by.

River Boardwalk

Located barely a mile downstream from the birth of the Tennessee River the extensive boardwalk has long been a visitor favorite. Look for elegant Great Blue Herons and other shoreline birds from this beautiful vantage point.

Hayworth Hollow

A short hop from the Keyhole at Ross Marble, this short yet truly memorable trail takes you along the quarry gorge’s moss-covered boulders to a stunning view of sheer rock walls towering hundreds of feet above. An essential spot that evokes the vastness of the Big South Fork, yet is so close to downtown it defies the senses.