Outdoor recreation opportunities abound
Swim in it, hike ’round it, climb it, paddle on it, run across it and even zip through it in mid-air. What you can’t do is ignore Kingsport’s spectacular outdoors. From forests to rivers to trails that wind through the heart of the city’s downtown and into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Kingsport offers matchless ways for people of all degrees of fitness and skill to get out and have fun.
“Kingsport is really a hotbed for outdoor recreation,” says Chris Sanders, wellness director for the Kingsport YMCA. “There are maybe 120 waterfalls here, tons of hiking opportunities, gorgeous scenery with changing elevations, wildlife, flowers. There are plenty of overlooks where you can see for miles. There are just lots of choices here for people to explore the beautiful northeast Tennessee region.”
Sanders, who moved to Kingsport about a year and a half ago from Florida, is a dedicated mountain biker – “It’s my thing,” he says – and describes the area as ideal for the mountain bikers who make up a large and enthusiastic community in Kingsport.
“The trails and trail networks are wonderful here and in surrounding areas,” he says. “The whole area is catering to mountain bikers.”
The city enjoys a robust parks and recreation program, with facilities that offer organized sports, hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and fishing at parks such as Borden Park and Allandale Mansion. The popular Kingsport Greenbelt, an 9-plus-mile linear park with a paved running/walking/biking trail, runs east to west through town, meandering through differing terrains and landscapes.
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium, the largest city-owned park in the state of Tennessee at 3,500 acres, has a lake, various animal habitats and a nature center featuring a planetarium. The park maintains a busy schedule of events and educational programs and summer camps, and also offers hiking and biking trails, picnic facilities and more.
Several outfitters are in place to help people gear up for adventures on the water, such as GRIP Outdoor in Kingsport, which offers kayak and tube rentals as well as kayak and SOLO Skiff sales. It has joined with several other businesses on the South Fork of the Holston River to form a Kingsport Riverfront Alliance, which has begun branding its efforts as the KOHO, or Kingsport On the Holston, River District.
Other outfitters include North Fork Adventures in Church Hill, which offers tube and kayak rentals for leisurely floats down the North Fork River. Adventure Mendota rents kayaks for self-guided tours of the North Fork.
Fort Patrick Henry Lake, a man-made reservoir on the South Fork of the Holston River, offers boating, swimming and fishing, a marina and a boat ramp.
Warrior’s Path State Park offers something for nearly every kind of outdoors enthusiast. The 950-acre park contains horse stables and trails, mountain biking trails, 12 miles of hiking trails, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds and a campground set next to an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Warriors Path Golf Course, on the shores of Fort Patrick Henry Lake, is an 18-hole course with pro shop and practice facilities. Other popular course in the area include Crockett Ridge Golf Course, Cattails at MeadowView Golf Club and The Club at Ridgefields.