Baker's mountain park is a true hidden gem of a park in the Catawba county park system. Baker's Mountain rises around 700 ft above the surrounding landscape and tops out at around 1,800 feet with an observation deck just before the summit with great views into Hickory and the surrounding area. You'll also pass creek crossing and old home sites from houses built around the turn of the century. Don't let the size of the park fool you because the trails are technical and steep in places. Overall, this is a great loop that covers the whole park, so get out there and test your fitness!
This hike starts from the parking lot and heads downhill to the blue trailhead. The Blue Trail
starts off downhill with a few short steps sections. It doesn't start to get technical until you start the short, but steep downhill to your first creek crossings with bridge. Then you have a very rocky, rooty, short, steep climb up from the creek.
Once you get to the top of the hill, you have a nice downhill, passing a creek with a small waterfall on your left, until you make the left onto the Red Trail
. Once you make your way onto the Red Trail
you have your first longish climb of about .50 miles gaining just over 250ft. Once you reach the top of the climb, the trail is a wooded, rolling, doubletrack back to the parking lot.
Once you hit the end of the Red Trail
, you'll take a left onto the paved hiking track and follow it around and take a left back onto the Red Trail
, but it's the red trailhead across the parking lot of the red trailhead you just exited. The next mile of the Red Trail
is very rolling, rocky, and rooty. Then you'll start a downhill hike of about .5 miles until you meet up with the Yellow Trail
, which you'll take a right onto. Once on the Yellow Trail
, you'll have about .1 mile more of downhill until you come to a really steep climb of about 300 ft in .1 mile up to a knoll spur and also starts the major climb of this loop.
In the next mile, you'll gain 800 ft of elevation, but once at the top of knoll spur, you'll have your last downhill of .1 you'll see for the next mile. Continue on the Yellow Trail
until it meets back with the Red Trail
and, at that time, take a left onto the Red Trail
. Once back on the Red Trail
, you'll start your climb of about 300 ft in .25 miles up to a small gap where the trail flattens out and gets less technical. This is a great .1 mile section to catch your breath before you start the second half of the major climb.
Once the climb ramps back up, the trail turns very rocky, steep, and technical and switchbacks three times tying into the old service road. In about .5 miles, you'll pass a gazebo and the observation deck on your left as you make your way to the summit used for this loop. Soon after you pass the observation deck, you'll also see a bench on your left. Keep hiking past it following the trail up to the summit signaled by a lot of rocks on the ground, and the trail will start going downhill which you don't want to do for this loop.
At the summit, turn around and make your way back the way you came to the observation deck. Enjoy the view from there and continue down the mountain back the way you came until you pass the gazebo; take a left onto the Orange Trail
. This trail is singletrack and rolling for the first .25 mile; then you start a very steep and technical descent until you meet back up with the Red Trail
and an old home site, which you'll take a left onto. The Red Trail
is rolling with short, steep sections until you come to a bench which singles you to take a right onto the shortcut trail. The shortcut trail is a short, technical and downhill trail that meets back up with the Blue Trail
Once you intersect back with the Blue Trail
, take a left onto it and start your final climb of 200 feet in .3 miles back up to the parking lot and paved track. Once the Blue Trail
meets up with the hiking track, take a left onto it and follow the paved track all the way back around to the Blue Trail
, and your loop is complete.