Adventures in the Southern Appalachians & Beyond!  






January 31st, 2009 - Following our Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club Committee meeting at the Eastman Lodge, I went on a pleasant hike up to the fire tower on Bays Mountain with my fellow club members Jake Mitchell and Jamie Aiello.    


From the parking area at Bays Mountain Park, we walked down to the Lakeside trail and went to the east around the Kingsport Reservoir (lake).  After 0.8 miles we then turned onto the Hemlock Trail, which is a short 0.1 mile spur to the Fire Tower Trail.  We then ascended steadily for 0.7 miles until we reached the tower.  


We climbed the lookout tower for some awesome views.  We had vistas overlooking Kingsport, Eastman, the Ammunition Plant, the Clinch Mountains, and the mountains toward Bristol and Johnson City.  I didn't take a lot of photos because I was enjoying my conversations with Jake and Jamie, but more information and photos can be seen here: click here     


One word of warning... the climb up the steps can be little intimidating.  The steps are steep, and not fully enclosed.          


001.jpg (106763 bytes)


013.jpg (111995 bytes)

Looking Down the Bays Mtn Ridgeline to the Towers

  Jamie and Jake in the Lookout Tower
005.jpg (163882 bytes)   012.jpg (146921 bytes)
Overlooking the Army Ammunition Plant   The City of Kingsport, TN
020.jpg (113243 bytes)   009.jpg (73127 bytes)
Jake Pointing Out the Landmarks   Views Toward Johnson City

We re-traced our step back down the Fire Tower Trail, but when we reached the junction of the Hemlock Trail, we took the Lakeside Road back to the parking area.  This was a nice, short hike.             


Total Miles Hiked:  3.3 



Getting There:  


Driving - From Johnson City, take I-26 north (toward Kingsport) to Exit 3. Turn left at the light at the bottom of the exit ramp.  This road turns into Reservoir Road.  Continue on this road for approximately 3 miles, then turn right onto Bays Mountain Park Road.  Stay to the left fork in the road at the park entrance.  You will stop mid-way up the mountain to pay $3 per vehicle to get into the park.     


Trails - To get to the fire tower, we walked down toward the Nature Center from the parking area.  We found a paved trail right next to the lake and began walking toward the right.  Follow the signs for the Lakeside Trail.  After approximately 0.8 miles we turned right on the Hemlock Trail.  After 0.1 mile we then found the Fire Tower Trail, which was 0.7 miles to the tower.  We re-traced our steps back down the Fire Tower Trail, but when we reached the junction of the Hemlock Trail, we took the Lakeside Road back to the parking area.  A great resource for the Bays Mountain Trails with mileages can be found here (thanks to Collins Chew of the TEHCC for this chart).  


Hike Rating -


Bill's Overall Rating:

Distance:  3.3 miles

Difficulty:  MODERATE

Type: LOOP + OUT & BACK on Firetower Trail

Vista Rating: 

Waterfall Rating:  NONE

Water Crossings:  1 - EASY

Scrambling/Climbing:  NONE

Hazards:  steep steps on the fire tower

Significance:  historical, structure, wildlife viewing

Recommendation:  average


Click here for hike rating reference guide.    



Copyright 2007  All Right Reserved.  All Images, Logos, and Photos are the property of or Bill Fuller Photography