Officials now say off-roading has reached a point where serious damage is being done on Bays Mountain Park property. Contributed photo.
KINGSPORT — For years, people have sneaked onto Bays Mountain Park property with their ATVs, motorcycles and pickup trucks to enjoy a little off-road excitement.
But officials now say the off-roading has reached a point where serious damage is being done to the park and steps will be taken to curb the activity.
Fred Hilton, the naturalist at Bays Mountain, said most of the off-roading is taking place near Front Hollow Road and Jack Jones Road, in the southwestern part of the park. Front Hollow eventually becomes Bays Mountain Road and goes into the Blairs Gap community, while Jack Jones goes across the top of the ridge and ties into Reservoir Road.
"They've done this for years, but on a much smaller scale. In the past year, it has increased exponentially and now they're starting to cut trees, dig other trails up the side of the mountain and just really doing a lot of damage to the park," Hilton said. "We're getting complaints not only from park users but also from some of the folks who live near the entrances to the park, complaints about groups coming in late at night and making a lot of noise, playing loud music.
"It's gotten to the point ... where we're going to have to do something about it."
Park officials are not sure of the number of people sneaking onto their property, but suspect it's either young people or people new to the area given the amount of damage done. In the past, the off-roaders were those who lived near the park, Hilton said.
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