Source: University of Tennessee | Patricia McDaniels | November 6, 2015

Independent Organization Ranks the Tennessee Forest Among the Top 25

UT Arboretum, including its 7 miles of walking trails is located in Oak Ridge, TN, free and open to the public. Credit: UTIA.

UT Arboretum, including its 7 miles of walking trails is located in Oak Ridge, TN, free and open to the public. Credit: UTIA.

If you like towering trees, quiet forest walks and beautiful outdoor spaces, it’s hard to disagree with the latest ranking from “Best College Reviews.” The online guide that helps students identify institutions that suit their educational goals and other preferences has published a list of the 50 most beautiful college arboretums, and the University of Tennessee Arboretum is listed as number 22.

The website,, says the following criteria were used to compile the rankings:
• Size of arboretum
• Size of the collection
• How long the garden has been established
• Opportunities for college students
• Connection with the community

The organization ranked the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell University as the number one college arboretum.

Kevin Hoyt, director of the UT’s Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center and Arboretum, was excited to hear the news. “It’s truly an honor to be named as among the most beautiful arboretums in the nation. But it’s especially gratifying that the ranking recognizes both opportunities for college students and connections with the local community.”

The UT Arboretum is a project of the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. The 250-acre research and educational arboretum is part of a greater 2,204-acre research forest. The arboretum serves as an outdoor classroom to university students in a variety of fields and as a community resource with numerous interpretive nature trails and ecological points of interest. The arboretum hosts more than 30,000 visitors annually and boasts of a collection of more than 2,000 native and exotic woody plant specimens representing more than 800 species. It has been recognized as an official Wildlife Observation Area and is a part of the National Watchable Wildlife Program.

At present the UT Arboretum, including its seven miles of self-guided walking tours, is open to the public and free of charge to visit. A new 2000–sq. ft. auditorium with scenic views and modern conveniences is available for rent for visitors desiring a rustic, park-like setting for events like weddings, meetings or workshops.

For details about arboretum and its facilities, including walking trail maps, visit the arboretum’s website.

Hoyt adds that while much of the fall colors are scattered on the forest floor, the UT Arboretum remains a great place for a fall outing. “Many leaves still remain aloft and the evergreens and holly trees will retain their greenery, so visitors will have a great time getting outdoors at the arboretum throughout the fall,” Hoyt says. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons Hoyt adds that visiting the arboretum provides a great break from the rigors of holiday shopping.

As a UT AgResearch facility, the arboretum also provides a natural laboratory for research in plant uses, insect and disease control and the management of natural resources.

The arboretum benefits from the support of the University of Tennessee Arboretum Society (UTAS), a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to furthering the objectives and programs of the UT Forest Resources Center and Arboretum. The society has assisted by providing support and funding for such projects as expanding plant collections, constructing facilities to enhance the public’s use and enjoyment of the arboretum, and informing the public of the unique value and importance of the arboretum to the area.

Recently, the society accepted the challenge of providing a portion of the operating funds needed to assure continued public access to the arboretum. Information about the society and membership opportunities are available at the UT Arboretum Visitors Center, online at the Arboretum Society’s website or by e-mail

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life.