Upgrades Coming at Bays Mountain Park as New Trails Open and Habitats Renovated

John M. Dabbs

Trailhead sign for newest trail opened at Bays Mountain ParkJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Trail expansion

Bays Mountain unveiled its newest biking and hiking trail Friday, June 3, with a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the newest legacy trail at Bays Mountain Park. "Moonshiners' Delight" was dedicated as the newest trail. It's the longest trail in the park at 4.2 miles.

The $65,000 project began last fall. The trail is the longest constructed trail in nearly a decade, running east to west. Park Manager Megan Krager says it's the first linear trail and is considered a single-track trail. The trail creates a complete loop within the park and provides easier access to the fire tower while alleviating foot traffic on other trails.

Animal Rehab

Whitetail deerJohn Dabbs/Photographer

With the recent death of Netar, the 15-year-old gray wolf, and Kirby the bobcat both died in early May, the park is beginning to rehab the habitats. Crews were busy this past weekend working on the bobcat habitat. The otter died in 2019, due to illness from a grape someone had fed it. While it was most likely not given with ill-intent, otters can't eat grapes and it led to its death when transported to the University of Tennessee for veterinary care.

Work on bobcat habitatJohn Dabbs/photographer

The longevity of the animals is a tribute to the care they receive at Bays Mountain Park. The fox is currently in veterinary care after an injury to his leg. A black snake in captivity at the park has also died recently. The park is constructing a new centrally located amphitheater closer to the nature center. The new facility will be similar in size to the old one, with more amenities.

The fox and deer habitats will also be receiving upgrades soon. The park has evolved greatly over the past few years and more is yet to come. In the past, the park had black bears in a small habitat. The board and park are working to obtain new animals for Bays Mountain Park in the near future. We are uncertain as to the type of animals that will be procured.

Lessons learned

While the killing of a whitetail deer a few years ago in the park was obvious ill-intent, other animals suffer from not knowing better, or believing the harm is minor. Keep the otter in mind when you consider these things. Even fruits, vegetables, and other plants can be harmful to animals. The animals are fed regularly by trained staff and volunteers who provide them a suitable diet tailored to their individual needs.

Feeding people food, or even unusual food that we think may be harmless, can be detrimental to animals. Please do not feed the animals when visiting Bays Mountain Park, or any animals in the wild. Just as we have bear-proof trashcans to keep the animals from eating human trash, we don't want them to have access to our food either. It can be hazardous to their health.

It can also be hazardous to yours if they come running when they see someone and try to get food. You don't want to be bitten by a bird, squirrel, raccoon, fox, bobcat, wolf, or bear. Keep this in mind.

For more information on Bays Mountain and to find park maps, visit the park’s website.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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