KINGSPORT — Do you know how long it took to build the dam at Bays Mountain Park? How about the fact there were two schools located within the park or that moonshiners would operate their stills in the more wooded areas of the property?
Answers to these questions and more can be found by taking one of the guided history hikes at Bays Mountain Park this summer.
There are two types of hikes being offered in June and July: a short, one-hour hike and a medium, three-hour hike. The tour guides are David and Brenda Fox of Kingsport, who share the history of the park and what it was like to live on Bays Mountain more than 100 years ago.
The hikes are $5 per person and preregistration is required by calling the Nature Center at (423) 229-9447. Space is limited to 15 participants, and children in backpack carriers can attend at no charge.
Just be sure to wear closed-toed shoes, bring plenty of drinking water, and meet behind the Nature Center under the concrete overhang 15 minutes prior to departure.
UPCOMING HIKE SCHEDULE
June 20: Short, 2 p.m.
June 26: Medium, 10 a.m.
June 27: Short, 2 p.m.
July 10: Medium, 10 a.m.
July 11: Short, 2 p.m.
July 24: Short, 10 a.m.
July 25: Medium, 2 p.m.
“Long before Bays Mountain was home to our present-day nature preserve park, families successfully lived and thrived on the mountain,” said Rob Cole, Bays Mountain Park manager. “Their stories are real, they’re amazing, and they are most definitely worth preserving and sharing, and the Guided History Hikes help to ensure their preservation.”
ABOUT THE HIKES
The hikes were developed by David and Brenda Fox. David is a member of the History Committee, one of the panels formed last year in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary celebration of Bays Mountain Park.
“I’ve been researching material for the Farmstead Museum. I created the Bays Mountain history website, so that made it very natural for me to use some of the material I learned to do the hikes,” David said. “And (Brenda) said, ‘If you do it, I’ll do it too.’”
To prepare for the event, the couple went on eight practice hikes throughout the park, mapping out where they wanted to go and what they wanted to say at various stops along the route. The couple said they solicited their friends to come out and hear the presentations while going on the hikes.
After some final tweaking, the couple oversaw their first official history hike earlier this month, which sold out. A second one was held a week later. It too sold out.
Brenda said she and her husband don’t have a background in history or education. They just love the park and want to share what they’ve learned with the public.
“We’ve gone hiking through the years, and when we had young kids they would come up with school groups. We just really love the park,” Brenda said. “It’s been a great place for our family and one of the best parks we’ve ever been to.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you take one of the history hikes expect to hear about the history of the park and the community that lived on the mountain for more than 100 years. There were houses on the mountain, some churches, and at least two schools. It was a community, David said.
David and Brenda said they plan to be the tour guides through July, but if demand continues, then the couple said they could see themselves doing the hikes as late as October.
Cole said the Foxes have done a phenomenal job in their research, preparation and delivery for the hikes.
“Their attention to detail and the care they’ve taken in crafting these hikes is matched only by their genuine desire to enthusiastically share each mountain family’s story,” Cole said. “And that of a mountain that so many enjoyed for recreational pursuits prior to the creation of the park and leading up to our present day operations.”