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September 1, 2015


Catawba County’s three parks, Baker’s Mountain, Riverbend and St. Stephens Parks, returned to a six day per week operating schedule beginning on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. The parks are now closed only on Wednesdays and three holidays.

Funding for the return to a six day schedule was included in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Catawba County Budget. Resumption of six day a week operations had been a frequent request of citizens and was identified as a top priority in the 2015 Parks Master Plan, approved by the Catawba County Board of Commissioners on June 15, 2015.

Park operating hours and staffing were cut in the County’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget, as the County struggled with continuously increasing economic challenges resulting from the 2008 recession.

“We’re very excited about returning to a six day a week schedule,” said Blair Rayfield, Catawba County’s Parks Manager. “And we know many of our visitors are excited as well because we heard from some who were hoping the parks would go back to a six day a week schedule as soon as the new budget went into effect on July 1st. It took a few months longer because the funding for the additional staff we need to operate six days a week wasn’t available until July 1st. It takes considerable time to interview, hire, and train the best possible employees in this field. That time period is almost at an end, however, and our veteran park rangers and newly hired employees are hard at work getting things ready to go back to six days per week!”

Beginning on September 1st, the parks will be open every day except Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April through September; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in March and October; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November through February. The parks are also closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Riverbend Park is located off Highway 16 just south of the Alexander County-Catawba County line. Among its features are one mile of shoreline and a 3/4 acre pond for fishing; a 2 acre fenced dog park (permit required); canoe/kayak access to the Catawba River; 12 miles of hiking trails; 7.8 miles of mountain biking trails; picnic areas; a meeting/educational facility; a 20 x 45 foot open picnic shelter near the river; wildlife habitat viewing areas and a bird feeding station.

Baker’s Mountain Park is located in southwestern Catawba County. The park entrance is on Bakers Mountain Road just off Old Shelby Road. It offers six miles of hiking trails; an observation platform and gazebo at the mountain top; picnic areas and grills; two covered shelters; leashed dog walking; a quarter mile, ADA accessible paved trail; and a bird feeding station.

St. Stephens Park is located at 2247 36th Ave NE in Hickory behind Clyde Campbell Elementary School. It features a one-acre dog park (permit required); 1/3 mile gravel surfaced walking trail; educational landscaping; playground; horseshoe pits; picnic shelter; and a bird feeding station.

Plans are also continuing for the development of a Mountain Creek Park on land off Little Mountain Road near Lake Norman, another recommendation of the 2015 Parks Master Plan.

Catawba County Parks have a very active social media presence, particularly demonstrated by four Facebook sites; one for each of the three parks and one for the Parks System. The Facebook sites are full of colorful photos of the many activities and natural beauty to be seen in the parks. Visitors are invited to post their own photos and share their experiences in any of Catawba County’s parks. The public may also use photos found on the Parks sites provided credit is given to Catawba County Parks.

For more information on Catawba County’s parks, you may visit or call Susan Ballbach at 828-465-8381.