Open daily, dawn to dusk. Closed for deer hunting generally Wed-Sa from December to mid February
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Gravitas: Hiking: Proximity:Note: We love Baldpate Mountain so much, we’ve written four reviews about different aspects of the park: 1) Overview, 2) Switchback Trail, 3) Eastern Trails, 4)Pine Grove Hike. In addition, the new Fiddler’s Creek Preserve has been added on the other side of Fiddler’s Creek Road.
The Eastern Trails of Baldpate Mountain recently received some major improvements. Some of the less-used trails, which were always poorly maintained, have now been closed. Meanwhile, the main route from Church Road to the Pleasant Valley Rd. parking lot sports new, green blazes, improved boardwalks by the Church Rd. trailhead, and newly excavated drainage channels along the upper stretches of the trail (above the intersection with the Honey Hollow Trail).
One of the nicest hikes in the park is now to start at the Church Road trailhead, just east of its intersection with Fiddler’s Creek Rd. Follow the Kusar Mountain Trail and a complete a partial loop by connecting via the Honey Hollow and Copper Hill Trails, returning via Kusar Mountain.
Either branch of Copper Hill is worth exploring, though the western branch is substantially more challenging. It is also wetter during spring, or after a substantial rainstorm. If you want to take the western branch, I suggest walking it up hill (north) as a steep slope makes downhill footing somewhat treacherous. The eastern branch is substantially shorter and provides easier footing.
During wet season, you still should expect wet conditions. Crossing Fiddler’s Creek is now via improved stepping stones. In summer conditions you can stay completely dry. During spring high water, you may want to give it a miss. Over the ankle Gore-Tex boots are a very good idea when it’s wet, especially if you’re taking the western branch of the Copper Hill Trail.
If, like me, you’ve hiked everything else in Baldpate, the eastern trails open up two additional opportunities, including:
- Summit/Creek Spur Loop. In this variation, you’ll head up to the Summit Trail, then walk east along the Ridge Trail. Depending on time and fitness, you can either head down the Copper Hill Trail where it first hits the Ridge Trail about a quarter mile west of the Pleasant Valley Road parking lot. If you want a longer hike, you continue all the way to the lot, then make the right onto Copper Hill Trail there (note, the beginning of this trail is poorly marked, and you won’t see an orange blaze for while). Either way, you pick up the blue-blazed Creek Spur trail back to Fiddlers Creek Road. You’ll then have a mile walk along the road back to the Summit trail-head parking. Note that the Creek Spur is probably the wettest of the wet trails in this end of the park. Creek Spur is not well maintained (indeed I’m a little surprised it wasn’t closed), and quite brushy. Recommended for hard core Baldpate fans only.
- Switchback/Kusar Mountain Ramble. If you’re with a group, you can set up a car shuttle with one car at the Switchback trail-head on Rt. 29, and another at the Brickyard Rd. parking lot off Church Rd. Starting with the yellow-blazed Switchback trail, you then follow the Ridge Trail to the end, then down Copper Hill, Honey Hollow, and Kusar Mountain. That’s nearly a 4 mile hike, one-way, through some of the loveliest terrain in the park.