(This trail is referred to as the Reservoir Trail on the All Trails app)


~ 2.8 miles

~ 282 ft

Kingsport, TN

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Bays Mountain Park has always been one of our go-to nature outings with the boys. We go at least once a month if not more and have been going since the boys were very small. Bays Mountain has a Nature center and planetarium which are currently open with limited capacity and programs due to Covid. There is also a herpetarium and Farmhouse museum which are currently closed. The outdoor animal habitats are open and you will still see Rangers out and about. They are very friendly and love to educate. We have learned so much from them!

(The above picture is pre-covid, hence no masks.)

When all the indoor areas open back up I will be sure to make a post! For the purposes of this post, I’m going to stick to talking about one of the many hiking trails, the Lakeside Loop Trail.

When you enter Bays Mountain Park, you will come to a gate house and pay a $5 donation per vehicle. Be sure to pay attention to the park hours because they will close the exit gate. There is a number to call if you get stuck inside the park, but I am assuming they don’t love being contacted to let people out after hours. You will travel up a short winding road and reach multiple parking areas. In order to go to the Lakeside Trail, I would park in one of the first areas that you reach. Then you will walk down toward the Dam and walk across the bridge to your left that goes over the Dam. After you cross, you will see the trail head for the Lakeside Loop trail.

This is an excellent trail for kids because it doesn’t have much of an elevation. It also has lots of fun bridges and benches to take breaks or have snacks along the way. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is stroller friendly because it is definitely uneven terrain, so having a baby in a carrier/sling would probably be a better option.

There are some thin bridges without rails. Just a heads up if you have very adventurous toddlers or little ones who can’t swim.

There are various signs along the way and the trail is marked with blazes so it is easy to find our way. If you follow the “All Trails” app, at the time we went on this hike, it was called the Reservoir Trail.

While we were in the woods, we got to hear the wolves from the wolf habitat start howling. We also saw an owl and a few other interesting creatures on our journey. We went in December so the lake had quite a bit of ice on the surface. This was fascinating to the boys and kept them excited the whole way.

I highly recommend checking out Bays Mountain. Between the animal habitats and trails, there is something there for every age level and ability. The Lakeside trail is great for beginning to more experienced hikers. I hope to write about some more of their trails soon!

Find out more about Bay Mountain at the link below…