KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — It is the natural beauty of Bays Mountain Park coupled with the endless opportunities for learning and fun that keep families coming back for generations.
The park hit a milestone Monday, the 50th anniversary of its opening on May 24, 1971.
“The preservation and conservation of our green space and our natural world around us, what a wonderful legacy to be a part of and to be tasked with continuing to move forward,” said Park Manager Rob Cole.
Monday park leaders held an anniversary celebration, a time for staff and community leaders to come together and reflect on the impact Bays Mountain Park has had on the region for the past five decades. Staff and legacy donors were recognized for their individual impact. The day also marked a time to celebrate what the park means to so many.
“It has been a part of families for literally every bit of the 50 years of this park. The stories we hear daily bear evidence of that,” said Cole.
It’s a celebration even sweeter as our region recovers from the pandemic.
“You’re gonna be able to open up again. And we need that,” said former Kingsport mayor Hunter Wright.
Monday’s ceremony also came with a special announcement. The park is opening a brand new trail to be called the Legacy Trail, honoring the past 50 years. It will be just over 3.5 miles and will provide better access to the park’s iconic fire tower.
“We will hopefully encourage individuals to get out to some of the parts of the park they may not have been comfortable getting to before,” said senior naturalist Megan Krager.
The new trail is set to open sometime this fall.
“This is our first new trail in a very long time. I know there are a lot of people that come out and hike our trails that have hiked several times and they are looking for something new,” said Krager.
It is not just about the park’s past, but its future.
“We hope to lay the foundation so that 50 years later we are still talking about Bays Mountain Park,” said Cole.
“I also hope they can take away the natural beauty that is here and I hope they are able to understand why this area is so special to families but also to the region,” said Krager.
The park will host many events throughout the year to celebrate its 50th anniversary. You can find a list here.