Bakers Mountain Park
Habitats: Mature chestnut oak forest, mixed hardwood/pine, mountain laurel and rhododendron thickets.
Key Birds: Summer: Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warblers, Scarlet Tanager. Winter: Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, and Pine Siskin. Year-round: Ruffed Grouse.
Best Time to Bird: Year round.
Description: Bakers Mountain Park is a 190-acre park owned and operated by Catawba County. At 1780 feet, it is the highest point in Catawba County. There are 4.5 miles of trails in the park. The trails are mostly moderate, although some can be quite strenuous.
Directions: Take exit 121 (Old Shelby Rd.) off of Interstate 40. Go south on Old Shelby Rd. for 4.3 miles until you come to Bakers Mtn. Rd. on the left. Turn here and the entrance to the park is at the end of the road.
Birding Highlights: More than 110 species of birds have been observed at Bakers Mtn. Park since it opened in June of 2002. Check the feeders around the kiosk, especially in the winter, for Brown Creeper, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, White-breasted Nuthatch and an occasional Pine Warbler. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers can be seen and heard around the office area as well as Great Horned Owls late in the evening. Check the sky from time to time for Golden Eagles soaring above the mountain at different times of the year, not just during migration. The hike up to the observation platform can be strenuous but watch for Worm-eating Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, Ovenbirds, and Summer and Scarlet Tanagers. From the platform, look for raptors during fall migration.
General Information: Bakers Mountain Park is open Friday through Monday during daylight hours. There is an observation platform near the top of the mountain that offers great views of Hickory and the surrounding areas. There are several picnic shelters in the park and restrooms are also available. You must sign-in at the kiosk upon arriving at the park. Park checklist and map are available at the kiosk.
DeLorme map grid: page 40, D1
North Carolina Travel Map grid: H2
For more information: Catawba County, 828-324-8461. http://www.catawbacountync.gov/depts/parks/bakrmain.asp