If you haven’t been to Bays Mountain Park, you’re doing yourself a terrible terrible injustice. Where else can you hike 38 miles of trail around a lake, visit a planetarium, tackle adventure courses, and view a nature habitat
complete with wolves, bobcats, deer, otters, raptors, and more all in one trip? It’s all here. It’s like Disney World of the outdoors without the lines, and it’s amazing. The park also has many trails (hiking guide) that are dedicated and accessible to mountain bikes. Detailed maps of the park are provided as you enter, and at the top of the mountain lies a fire tower (albeit a sketch, 80+ year old one) that grants you amazing views of the entire park.
The lake is beautiful, complete with a dam that allows you to cross it. Lillie pads speckle the surface, and fish ripple the base. Below the lake there are natural and man made waterfalls and a few more trials. Indoors at the visitor center you have some fantastic exhibits covering everything from space travel to the native species of the area. You can spend hours here easily.
To get in: There is a small 4 dollar fee per vehicle. Pay up, it goes to feeding the animals (who are injured or otherwise could not survive in the wild) and sustaining the beautiful park. Other fees detailed below
853 Bays Mountain Park Rd, Kingsport · (423) 229-9447
Hiking Guide, complete with map
The link above, I created just for you. I recently put together a few of my favorite trails into one trip. This will take you around the lake, up to the fire tower, and back around to the lake. If you’ve never been, this is a great loop. At just under 6 miles, and only about an 800 feet of gain, it’s a gentle 2-3 hour trip that will offer impressive views of the lake, lake crossings, floating bridge, and a nice sketchy fire tower with epic views of the valley, if you dare.
- Planetarium Theater Shows: $4 per person for ages 6 and older.
Children 5 and under will receive a free pass.
- Nature Programs: $2.00 per person (any age).
- Barge Rides: $3.00 per person (any age).
- Zip Line: $10.00 per person (any age).