KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Fern Trail at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium has been closed due to beaver activity.

According to a release from the park, water from various rain showers has been encompassing the Fern Trail throughout this year, making it hard for guests to hike. Over the past several years, beaver activity near the Fern Trail has been increasing and changes to Lakeside Trail have been made.

Staff at Bays Mountain have looked into re-routing portions of Fern Trail, but sensitive plants and aquatic wildlife were found in the re-route areas. The park decided to close Fern Trail to allow nature to reclaim it because of the sandy soil, plants and wildlife found in the area.

“Fern Trail was a very unique trail and a favorite for many visitors,” said park manager Megan Krager. “It allowed hikers to view a variety of ferns in one location not found anywhere else in the park. As humans, we have to work together to protect all living organisms at the park, whether they are big or small.”

Trail crews have made a short trail to provide access to Lake Road from Lakeside Trail. The new trail, named Barred Owl Trail, can be accessed by crossing the wooden bridge to the left of the former Fern Trail and Lakeside Trail intersection, walking approximately 50 feet up Lakeside Trail and taking a right.

Bays Mountain Park staff will have an electronic version of a map with the new trail on the park’s website by July 23.