We’ve been highlighting interesting hikes in or near Charlotte. Each one offers something special, whether it’s a view of a waterfall, an interesting rock formation, a field of wildflowers, or historical ruins. Next on the list is Bakers Mountain Park, at 6680 Bakers Mountain Road, Hickory, a little over an hour from Charlotte.Our library of hikes
It’s located on the highest elevation point in Catawba County, 1780 feet. The highlight of the hike is an observation deck where you’re rewarded with a panoramic view of the Catawba Valley and the distant mountains.
Some other highlights on the hike are a small waterfall (and a still smaller waterfall), ruins from a two old homesites, and a boulder outcropping.
A few things to know before you go: the trail to the observation deck is rated as “moderate,” and does, obviously, include an incline, which might be challenging. The 6 miles of trails in the park are exceptionally well maintained and well marked, with regularly placed trail markers and maps throughout the park. The color of the trails on the signs is a little bit off for some reason. (The orange trail looks like it’s yellow, and the red trail looks like it’s orange.) But, just grab a trail map at the park office before you head out and you’ll be fine. You can also find a trail map here. One nice thing about the trail maps is that they include numbers at junctions and other points of interest, which make it very easy to get your bearing.
We walked a total of 2.6 miles, which include a little bit of a meandering in addition to the walk to the overlook and back.
There are roots on all the trails, so keep this in mind if you tend to trip over things. I am someone who tends to trip over things, but I was vigilant and had no mishaps. You might find a walking stick helpful for balance. There were several nice walking sticks leaning against the park office, presumably to borrow in the park. Also, the restrooms were clean, and the parking was plentiful, at least when we were there.
The trails are far from wheelchair or stroller friendly, but there is a 1/4 mile paved ADA accessible trail near the parking lot, and it features a storywalk, where signs along the trail each include a page from a children’s book.
When you enter the trail from the parking lot, it’s paved, but soon after, it becomes a natural surface trail, which is pretty rocky and rooty. There are a couple of different ways to get to the overlook. We started on the blue trail. Shortly after entering the blue trail you can turn right on the orange trail, which goes directly to the overlook, but we continued on the blue trail. This leads to a bridge over a creek.
Here you’ll find a very, very small waterfall, and we thought at first that was the waterfall promised to us on the trail map, but it’s not. This is just a warm-up waterfall.
Continuing on the blue trail, we reached one of the old homesites in the park. You can see the stone remains of a turn-of-the-century cabin where A.G. Clark lived with his parents.
There’s a memorial marker on the site, with a picture of A.G. Clark, and some history. The marker was the Eagle Scout project of a local Boy Scout, and from it we learned that A.G. Clark joined the U.S. Army in 1940, fought in the Normandy Invasion, Liberation of Paris, Battle of Huertgen Forest, and Ardennes Offensive. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Bravery and was killed in action in 1945 in Germany.
Next we came to the actual waterfall that’s on the map. It’s not too hard to get down to the waterfall if you want to get your toes wet.
Stay on the blue trail and follow the signs to the mountain top. The trail will start to get steep.
From here, just follow the blue trail to the top. During the ascent there are plenty of benches if you need to catch your breath. At the top there’s a gazebo, an overlook platform and a picnic table. Reward yourself for the climb with a picnic lunch if you brought one!
Take the orange trail back down. You’ll pass another homesite and two interesting boulder formations. You can take the orange trail to the red trail back to the parking lot or take the orange trail back to the blue trail and retrace your steps from there to the parking lot.Our library of hikes