Ascent of Holston River Mountain-High Point on 2013-02-09

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, February 9, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Holston River Mountain-High Point
    Elevation:2405 ft / 733 m

Ascent Trip Report

Holston River Mountain was my first stop on a 5-mile loop to bag the two ranked peaks (as well as one unranked) in the Bays Mountain Park near Kingsport, Tenn.

The 3,550-acre park is criss-crossed with almost 40 miles of well-marked trails. The park features a 44-acre lake, an observatory and planetarium, a zip line, and a nature center featuring wolves, bobcats, otters, and raptors. Admission is $4.

If you study the park map at, you will see "roads" that may imply that these peaks are driveups. However, the park "roads" are closed to cars and open only for mountain bikers and and hikers. Park "trails" are closed to bikes. Cars park at the nature center.

From the nature center, walk down toward the dam, turn right, and follow the Lakeside Trail 0.8 miles counter-clockwise around the lake (el. 1835). Then turn right on the Hemlock and Firetower trails and climb steadily for 0.9 miles NW, reaching the River Mountain Road at the foot of the firetower. The 60-foot tower, built in 1937, is open and seems solid, though I climbed it only halfway. The view includes the Army's Holston Munitions plant at the foot of the mountain on the north side. Looking S/SE, I was able to see the NC HP, Mount Mitchell, 55 miles away. The VA and KY state HPs also may be visible, according to the visibility cloak on

Leaving the tower, head south toward Bays Mountain, crossing Cherry Knobs along the way. It's 0.8 miles down the River Mountain Road to Feagins Gap, 1.0 on Lake Road across the Cherry Knobs and down to Ledbetter Gap, and then 0.5 on Bays Ridge Road to the top of Bays Mountain. You'll need to pay close attention to get the Cherry Knobs HP, which is just off the trail on a knoll inside a horseshoe curve.

From the top of Bays Mountain, it's 0.9 miles on the Bays Ridge Road down to the picturesque century-old dam and then a short walk back to the car. The trail here follows the top of a cliff, and the views to the south are special. I was able to see the eastern peaks in the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as the striking profile of Chimneytop Mtn (Hawkins COHP).

There are two more unranked peaks (with cliffside overlooks) NE of the nature center, but those would have added 4 miles, and I didn't have that much additional time or stamina.

Total climb was about 1150 feet.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1170 ft / 355 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1170 ft / 356 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:570 ft / 173 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.7 km
    Route:Lakeside Trail, Tower Trail
    Start Trailhead:Bays Mountain nature center  1835 ft / 559 m
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1170 ft / 356 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 570 ft / 174 m; Extra: 600 ft / 182m
    Gain on way out:600 ft / 182 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Route:via Cherry Knobs, Bays Mtn
    End Trailhead:Bays Mountain nature center  1835 ft / 559 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Bays Mountain Park

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Holston River Mountain-High Point2013-02-09 a1170 ft / 357 m
2Cherry Knobs2013-02-09 b 
3Bays Mountain2013-02-09 c 
Total Trip Gain: 1170 ft / 357 m    Total Trip Loss: 1170 ft / 357 m

This page has been served 394 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2021 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service