11 Gorgeous Hikes Near Memphis for Every Experience Level
By Kay Rodriguez
FYI: Some of our posts include affiliate links. When you make a purchase from one of these links, Urban Outdoors may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Updated November 10, 2022
Memphis, also known as Home of the Blues, may be best known for its musical contributions and its fabulous barbecue, but don’t overlook the city’s access to nature. With a wonderful vantage point in western Tennessee that gives locals access to the best nature in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, there’s no shortage of great hiking near Memphis. We created this guide to the best hikes near Memphis so you can get outside and plan your next adventure!
Hikers and bikers in the Memphis area love the Wolf River Greenway for some fresh air and solitude. While it’s highly frequented and less of a traditional “hiking trail,” it’s a beautiful area to explore on two feet. Located in the Lucius Burch Natural Area, the trail runs along the Wolf River and offers great opportunities to see local wildlife (deer, foxes, etc.) early in the morning and in the evenings. For an easy, local trail that provides miles of beauty, you can’t go wrong with the Wolf River Greenway.
Shelby Farms Greenline
Distance from Memphis: 0 miles
Trail Length: 10.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 314 feet
Another popular trail for biking and hiking near Memphis is the Shelby Farms Greenline trail, which offers nearly 11 miles of paved trails for getting some exercise in nature. The trail spans several bridges over the Wolf River and through many forested areas in the Memphis area. You don’t have to do all 11 miles, as there are plenty of entry and exit points. Locals love frequenting this beautiful urban trail to take a break from the city and, according to one person, “a respite from daily life.”
We love bringing our fanny pack with us on urban trails, as it’s an easy place to stash our keys, wallet, and snacks. If you need a good hiking fanny/waist pack, check out our complete guide here:
Distance from Memphis: 0 miles (Shelby Farms Park)
Trail Length: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
If you’re looking for an accessible hike for strollers or wheelchairs near Memphis, the Chickasaw Trail is your best bet. With 2.8 miles of paved trails, this is a prime viewing area for deer and a great spot for escaping the city. Beginners will love the ease and length of this trail, which is long enough to get in some exercise but short enough to do within an hour or two. Plus, you’ll get access to views of the park’s four scenic lakes.
Herb Parsons Lake Trail
Distance from Memphis: 33 miles/40 minutes
Trail Length: 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 124 feet
Lakes and forests are the name of the game when hiking near Memphis, and the Herb Parsons Lake Trail is another fantastic option for waterfront hiking near the city. As one of the prettiest hikes near Memphis, this trail circles the lake for 6.2 miles, perfect for an extra long hike or to break up in parts. You’ll find bikers and hikers along this trail throughout the day, and there are several routes to choose from, some extending the trail to nearly 8 miles. It’s a wonderful place that’s removed from the city to enjoy the outdoors and the lakefront.
Moderate & Difficult Hikes Near Memphis
Stanky Creek Trail
Distance from Memphis: 14 miles/20 minutes
Trail Length: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 334 feet
If you’re seeking one of the more adventurous hikes near Memphis, the Stanky Creek Trail is a local favorite. This trail is less of a multi-use pathway and more of an adventurous, rugged trail through the woods. With some terrain and elevation changes throughout, you’ll find that this trail provides a bit more of a fun challenge than some of the easier ones on our list. Wooden boardwalks and dirt pathways take you through the forest and to creeksides for a loop that spans 9 miles (though you can shorten it by making it an out-and-back!), and you’ll enjoy feeling the peace and quiet of the forest around you.
Distance from Memphis: 13 miles/20 minutes (Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park)
Trail Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 439 feet
Although shorter than the Stanky Creek trail, the Woodland Trail at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is an excellent, short loop that’s perfect for hiking near Memphis. This 3 mile loop trail is perfect for beginners or more advanced hikers wanting to enjoy a little bit more elevation change and exercise as they wander through the woods. While there’s not much in the way of views, you’ll find plenty of local plants, mushrooms, and wildlife spotting opportunities along the way. Plus, the inclines and descents will get you sweating!
Fort Pillow State Historic Park
Distance from Memphis: 65 miles/1.5 hours
Trail Length: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 692 feet
The Fort Pillow State Historic Park Loop is one of those hikes near Memphis that has it all. Along its 8.1 miles of trails, there’s some moderate elevation gain, beautiful views of the nearby lake, and plenty of forested areas to explore. It’s also a historic fort where one of the most controversial battles of the Civil War took place. There are several areas as well as a museum to learn about the area’s intense story. Great for all levels of hikers wanting to explore Fort Pillow’s grounds, we’d recommend starting early so you can explore the many miles of trails that this park has to offer.
Big Hill Pond State Park
Distance from Memphis: 91 miles/1.5 hours
Trail Length: 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 767 feet
Located about 1.5 hours from the city, Big Hill Pond State Park has some of the best hikes near Memphis for more advanced hikers. The park’s namesake trail – the Big Hill Pond Trail – is a 7.5-mile loop around Big Hill Pond that has it all: stunning overlook viewpoints, pretty lake views, rustic historic cabins, a viewpoint tower to climb, and more. This moderate hike definitely requires some stamina as you make your way around the park, but there’s never a dull moment with so many things to see! For those looking for a full day adventure, Big Hill Pond State Park is one of the best spots for hiking near Memphis.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Distance from Memphis: 150 miles/2.5 hours
Trail Length: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 725 feet
Perhaps the coolest area for hiking near Memphis is actually across the border in Arkansas, at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. This state park has one of the most memorable peaks in this region of the country, a nearly perfect triangular mountain that’s the namesake of the park (pictured above). You can summit this mountain on a challenging 1.5-mile trail, as you’ll climb over 700 feet to the top. But the reward is well worth the effort, as you’ll get to see stunning views of nearby Lake Maumelle and the Arkansas River from the rocky summit.
We recommend bringing a sturdy pair of trekking poles with you on this hike, asthey’re always beneficial when going uphill. Here our are favorites:
If you hop just over the border in Mississippi, you’ll find the scenic Tishomingo State Park. This state park is home to some of the area’s most scenic trails, including the Bear Creek Outcropping Trail. The Bear Creek hike boasts a massive swinging bridge and otherworldly rock formations in a lush, green forest environment. The whole park is completely spellbinding, and is well worth the drive from Memphis to see these incredible natural landmarks on some of the most underrated trails in the region.
If you want to see what this beautiful state park has to offer, check out this great video:
Additional Resources for Hiking near Memphis
What to Pack
Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or capfor day hikes in the sunshine.
Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.
Urban Outdoors is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY
We’re building a community platform so you can meet other outdoor adventurers in your city. Sign up so you’re the first to know when we come to your city: