Want a scenic mountain view without the drive to western North Carolina? Want a hike in the woods without competing with the crowds at Crowders Mountain? Let me introduce you to Bakers Mountain Park
, just over an hour west of uptown Charlotte in Hickory, NC.
Nestled in the foothills, Bakers Mountain Park is a public park managed by Catawba County. It features nearly six miles of trails through 189 acres and sports the highest elevation point (1780 feet) in the county.
This quiet, well-maintained, gem of a park is inviting for a number of reasons, including the charming community bucket of hiking sticks that greets you at the trailhead. Grab one as you set off for a pleasant stroll through the woods.
I recommend heading first toward the observation platform (see park map
) by following the red trail until it intersects with the orange trail. Take a right and follow the orange trail less than half a mile to a gazebo (this makes a great place for a snack break!) and deck with views of the Catawba Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
The trails throughout the park are natural surface (with the exception of a quarter-mile paved, ADA accessible loop around the parking area) and rolling, with some pretty steep climbs. Beyond the ascents/descents, the biggest obstacles are roots and rocks. There are some impressive boulder outcroppings in some areas. We found all the trails to be well marked.
If you make your way to the stream habitat area (the western side of the red trail loop), you'll be rewarded with a small waterfall and a great place to rock-hop through the water (there's also a bridge if you'd rather not traverse the creek).
Another fun feature are the handful of turn-of-the-century home sites along some of the trails. There are also plenty of benches throughout the park to take a break.
Make note: The park is closed Wednesdays (as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Hours are seasonal. The park is open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from April to September, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in March and October, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from November to February.
A clean, well-maintained restroom facility is available in the main parking lot.
Bonus: If you have time and energy after your hike, little ones might enjoy the story walk on the paved trail around the parking area. A children's book is displayed one page at a time on signs at intervals along the trail.
How to get there:
Bakers Mountain Park is located at 6680 Bakers Mountain Rd., Hickory, NC 28602.
Don't forget to pack
- Comfortable, supportive shoes: The terrain can be uneven and challenging.
- Water: Stay hydrated; you can refill at the restroom facility in the parking lot.
- Snacks or lunch: There are plenty of benches and a couple of picnic shelters to stop and refuel.
- Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: The trails are mostly shady, but there are some exposed spaces throughout the park.
- Bug spray: Ward off ticks, gnats and mosquitoes.
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