Bays Mountain Park Trail System In Tennessee

Here is everything you need to know about the Bays Mountain Park Trail System:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Tennessee
  • Length: 39.63 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium.
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website: Info not available.

The Bays Mountain Park Trail System is located in Kingsport, Tennessee, and holds a rich historical significance. The park itself was established in 1968 and covers an area of over 3,500 acres. The trail system within the park has a history that dates back even further, with some trails having been used for centuries by Native American tribes.

Before the arrival of European settlers, the Cherokee people inhabited the region surrounding Bays Mountain. They utilized the trails within the park for hunting, gathering, and trading purposes. These trails served as important connections between different settlements and provided access to valuable resources.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area. The trails within Bays Mountain became vital for transportation and trade, as they connected the growing communities. The trails were used by pioneers, traders, and even soldiers during the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

In the early 20th century, the land that now comprises Bays Mountain Park was owned by the Kingsport Waterworks Company. The company used the area as a water source for the growing city of Kingsport. However, in the late 1960s, the city recognized the natural beauty and recreational potential of the land and decided to establish Bays Mountain Park. Since then, the park’s trail system has been developed and expanded, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the area’s rich history and natural wonders.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Nature Center Trailhead: This is the main access point to Bays Mountain Park and features a visitor center, parking area, and restrooms. It provides access to various trails within the park.

2. Lake Road Trailhead: Located near the lake, this trailhead offers parking facilities and access to trails that lead to the lake and other scenic areas.

3. Farmstead Museum Trailhead: This access point is near the Farmstead Museum and provides parking facilities. It connects to trails that showcase the park’s historical aspects.

4. Fire Tower Trailhead: Situated near the fire tower, this trailhead offers parking facilities and access to trails that lead to the tower and provide panoramic views of the surrounding area.

5. Lily Pad Cove Trailhead: This access point is near Lily Pad Cove, a popular spot for fishing and picnicking. It provides parking facilities and access to trails that lead to the cove and other scenic areas.

6. Dam Overlook Trailhead: Located near the dam, this trailhead offers parking facilities and access to trails that provide views of the dam and the lake.

7. Mountain Bike Trailhead: This access point is specifically for mountain bikers and offers parking facilities. It provides access to the park’s designated mountain biking trails.

8. Kingsport Greenbelt Trailhead: Bays Mountain Park is connected to the Kingsport Greenbelt, a multi-use trail system. This trailhead allows access to both the park’s trails and the Greenbelt.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Bays Mountain Park Trail System. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads within the park as well.

Transportation Available

1. Bays Mountain Park Shuttle – Shuttle service offering convenient transportation to and from Bays Mountain Park Trail System.
2. Local Taxi Services – Various taxi companies providing transportation services in the vicinity of Bays Mountain Park Trail System.
3. Ride-Sharing Services – Popular ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft available for transportation needs near Bays Mountain Park Trail System.
4. Rental Car Agencies – Several rental car agencies offering vehicles for hire near Bays Mountain Park Trail System.
5. Public Bus Service – Local bus service providing transportation options to and from Bays Mountain Park Trail System.


The amenities available at the Bays Mountain Park Trail System include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various locations within the park, including near the Nature Center and at the main parking area.

2. Parking: There is ample parking available at the park for visitors. There are designated parking areas near the Nature Center, the main entrance, and other trailheads.

3. Camping Sites: Bays Mountain Park offers camping facilities for both tent and RV camping. There are designated camping areas with amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to restroom facilities.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several designated picnic areas throughout the park, providing visitors with a scenic spot to enjoy a meal or snack. These areas are equipped with picnic tables and some may have grills available.

5. Nature Center: The park features a Nature Center that offers various amenities, including educational exhibits, a gift shop, and a planetarium. Visitors can learn about the park’s wildlife, history, and participate in interactive programs.

6. Observation Tower: Bays Mountain Park has an observation tower that provides panoramic views of the surrounding area. It offers a unique vantage point to observe the park’s natural beauty.

7. Animal Habitats: The park is home to several animal habitats, including a wolf habitat, a bobcat habitat, and a raptor center. Visitors can observe these animals up close and learn about their natural habitats.

8. Boat Rentals: Bays Mountain Park offers boat rentals for visitors to explore the park’s lake. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats are available for rent, allowing visitors to enjoy a leisurely ride on the water.

9. Nature Trails: The park has an extensive trail system with various difficulty levels, ranging from easy to moderate. These trails provide opportunities for hiking, jogging, and nature walks, allowing visitors to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems.

10. Wildlife Viewing Areas: Bays Mountain Park has designated wildlife viewing areas where visitors can observe and photograph the park’s wildlife. These areas are equipped with benches and viewing platforms for a comfortable experience.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change or availability depending on the season and park regulations. It is always recommended to check with the park authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center – Upscale lodging with a golf course and spa.
2. Comfort Suites Kingsport – Affordable hotel with complimentary breakfast and an indoor pool.
3. Sleep Inn & Suites Kingsport – Budget-friendly hotel offering free Wi-Fi and a fitness center.
4. Hampton Inn Kingsport – Modern hotel with free breakfast and an outdoor pool.
5. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kingsport-Meadowview I-26 – Contemporary hotel with a fitness center and complimentary breakfast.
6. McDonald’s – Fast-food chain serving burgers, fries, and other American classics.
7. Subway – Casual sandwich shop offering a variety of subs and salads.
8. Pizza Hut – Popular pizza chain serving a range of pizzas, wings, and sides.
9. Taco Bell – Fast-food Mexican chain serving tacos, burritos, and more.
10. Food City – Local grocery store offering a wide selection of food and household items.
11. Walgreens – Pharmacy and convenience store providing essential items and medications.
12. Holston Valley Medical Center – Full-service hospital with emergency services and specialized medical care.

Bays Mountain Park Trail System Difficulty Notes

The Bays Mountain Park Trail System offers a range of difficulty levels to accommodate hikers of all abilities. With over 40 miles of trails, visitors can choose from easy, moderate, and challenging routes. The easy trails are well-maintained and suitable for beginners or those looking for a leisurely stroll through the park’s beautiful scenery. The moderate trails provide a slightly more challenging experience, with some elevation changes and uneven terrain. These trails are perfect for hikers seeking a moderate workout and a chance to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems. For experienced hikers looking for a more strenuous adventure, the challenging trails offer steep climbs, rocky paths, and longer distances. These trails provide a rewarding challenge and stunning views for those willing to push their limits. Overall, the Bays Mountain Park Trail System caters to hikers of all skill levels, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities it has to offer.

Features And Attractions

1. Bays Mountain Reservoir: This scenic reservoir offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and is a popular spot for fishing and boating.

2. Fire Tower: The Fire Tower at Bays Mountain Park provides panoramic views of the park and the surrounding area. It is a great spot to take in the beauty of the landscape.

3. Nature Center: The Nature Center at Bays Mountain Park is a historical site that offers educational exhibits and programs about the park’s wildlife and natural history.

4. Lake Road Trail: This trail follows the shoreline of the Bays Mountain Reservoir and offers stunning views of the water and surrounding forest.

5. Azalea Trail: The Azalea Trail is known for its vibrant display of blooming azaleas in the spring. It winds through a beautiful forested area and offers scenic views along the way.

6. Ridge Trail: The Ridge Trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It is a challenging trail that rewards hikers with stunning vistas.

7. Beaver Creek Trail: This trail follows the Beaver Creek and offers opportunities for wildlife viewing. It passes through a variety of habitats, including wetlands and forests.

8. Hemlock Trail: The Hemlock Trail takes hikers through a dense hemlock forest, offering a cool and peaceful environment. It is a great trail for birdwatching and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

9. Wolf Run Trail: This trail follows the Wolf Run Creek and offers scenic views of the creek and surrounding forest. It is a popular trail for hiking and mountain biking.

10. Indian Pipes Trail: The Indian Pipes Trail is named after the unique wildflower known as the Indian Pipe. It winds through a beautiful forested area and offers opportunities for wildlife viewing.

11. Nature Trail: The Nature Trail is a short, easy trail that offers interpretive signs about the park’s flora and fauna. It is a great trail for families and those looking for a leisurely walk.

12. Observation Tower: The Observation Tower at Bays Mountain Park provides stunning views of the park and the surrounding area. It is a great spot to take in the scenery and spot wildlife.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that can be found along the Bays Mountain Park Trail System.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. No pets are allowed on the Nature Trail.
3. Bicycles are only allowed on designated trails.
4. Horses are not permitted on the trail system.
5. Hunting or trapping is strictly prohibited.
6. No camping or overnight stays are allowed on the trails.
7. Fires are only permitted in designated areas.
8. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails.
9. Trail users must yield to horses and pedestrians.
10. Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
11. Do not disturb or remove any plants, animals, or artifacts.
12. No littering – please carry out all trash.
13. Respect seasonal closures or restrictions for certain trails.
14. Do not feed or approach wildlife.
15. Use caution and be aware of potential hazards on the trails.
16. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at trailheads or along the trails.

Seasonal Information

Bays Mountain Park, located in Kingsport, Tennessee, offers a stunning trail system that attracts outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. The best times to visit the park and explore its trails largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, there are a few seasons that stand out for their unique offerings.

Spring is a fantastic time to visit Bays Mountain Park, as the trails come alive with vibrant colors and blooming wildflowers. The park boasts a diverse range of flora, including trilliums, violets, and dogwoods, creating a picturesque landscape. The moderate temperatures and lower humidity during this season make hiking and biking on the trails a pleasant experience. Additionally, spring is an excellent time for birdwatching, as migratory birds return to the park, filling the air with their melodious songs.

Summer is another popular season to explore the Bays Mountain Park Trail System. The lush greenery and dense foliage provide ample shade, making it an ideal time for longer hikes or trail runs. The park offers several trails of varying difficulty levels, catering to both beginners and experienced hikers. However, it’s important to note that summer can be hot and humid in this region, so it’s advisable to carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.

During the fall, Bays Mountain Park transforms into a breathtaking display of autumn colors. The trails are adorned with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves change, creating a picturesque setting for nature lovers and photographers. The cooler temperatures and crisp air make hiking a delightful experience. Fall is also a great time to spot wildlife, such as deer and turkeys, as they prepare for the winter months.

It’s worth mentioning that Bays Mountain Park has seasonal closures for certain activities and facilities. The park’s Nature Center, which offers educational exhibits and live animal displays, is open year-round, except for major holidays. However, some trails may be temporarily closed during winter months due to inclement weather or maintenance work. It’s always a good idea to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for the most up-to-date information on trail closures and availability.

Overall, Bays Mountain Park offers a diverse and captivating trail system that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the shade of summer, or the stunning foliage of fall, there is a season for everyone to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of this remarkable park.


1. Lakeside Trail: This trail offers wheelchair accessibility with a smooth, paved surface and beautiful views of the lake.
2. Farmstead Loop: A wheelchair-accessible trail that takes you through a historic farmstead with interpretive signs along the way.
3. Tree Identification Trail: This trail provides wheelchair accessibility and features various tree species with informative signage.
4. Animal Habitats Trail: A wheelchair-accessible trail that showcases different animal habitats and includes interactive exhibits.
5. Birding Trail: This trail offers wheelchair accessibility and is perfect for birdwatching enthusiasts with designated viewing areas.
6. Wetlands Boardwalk: A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that allows visitors to explore the wetland ecosystem and observe wildlife.
7. Adventure Course: This course offers ADA accommodations, including a wheelchair-accessible section, for those seeking a more challenging experience.
8. Nature Center: The Nature Center is fully wheelchair accessible and features exhibits, educational programs, and accessible restrooms.
9. Picnic Areas: Wheelchair-accessible picnic areas are available throughout the park, providing a convenient spot to enjoy a meal surrounded by nature.
10. Visitor Center: The Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible and offers information, maps, and accessible restrooms for visitors’ convenience.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked trails to avoid getting lost or encountering hazardous areas.
2. Carry a map and compass: Always have a map and compass with you to navigate the trail system effectively.
3. Dress appropriately: Wear sturdy footwear, dress in layers, and bring rain gear to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
4. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike, especially during hot weather.
5. Use sunscreen and insect repellent: Protect yourself from sunburn and insect bites by applying sunscreen and using insect repellent.
6. Watch for wildlife: Be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter.
7. Be cautious of steep or slippery areas: Take extra care when hiking on steep or slippery sections of the trail to avoid accidents.
8. Avoid hiking alone: It’s safer to hike with a partner or in a group, but if you choose to hike alone, inform someone about your plans.
9. Be mindful of your physical abilities: Choose trails that match your fitness level and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit with you to treat minor injuries or emergencies on the trail.
11. Leave no trace: Pack out all your trash and respect the environment by leaving no trace of your visit.
12. Check for trail closures or restrictions: Before heading out, check for any trail closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Conservation Notes

The Bays Mountain Park Trail System is considered to be in good conservation status, with efforts focused on preserving its natural resources and promoting sustainable use. The park management has implemented various conservation measures to protect the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the trail system. These efforts include regular monitoring and maintenance of the trails, as well as the implementation of rules and regulations to minimize human impact on the environment.

One of the key conservation initiatives in the Bays Mountain Park Trail System is the preservation of native plant species. The park management actively works to control the spread of invasive plant species that can disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem. Additionally, efforts are made to restore and enhance habitats for native wildlife, ensuring that the trail system remains a suitable home for a diverse range of species.

The park also places a strong emphasis on educating visitors about conservation and environmental stewardship. Interpretive signs and educational programs are designed to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the natural resources found within the trail system. By promoting responsible behavior and encouraging visitors to respect the environment, the park management aims to ensure the long-term conservation of the Bays Mountain Park Trail System.

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