Bailey Mountain Preserve

Posted By on March 25, 2024

Bailey Mountain Preserve

1.33 miles; 233-ft. total ascent; Mars Hill, NC

Yep, it’s Auntie. I apologize for the long LONG hiatus. In my defense, I spent most of last year moving from rental to rental, and then finally in August into my new house. But I also admit I’ve kind of just let things slide. An osteoporosis diagnosis and bears and several falls while hiking kind of put me in a “scared to hike” frame of mind. But I am now well-established in my new house and have gotten myself a personal trainer to help with strength and balance issues, so let me just tentatively say “I’m back, baby!”


On to today’s hike! This place is both a historical and hiking preservation effort by the local community, including both faculty and students of Mars Hill University. It’s got about 5-ish miles of trails that wind first through the Smith farm and then up the mountain. Due to my long hiatus, I was not in any shape to attempt to get to the summit, estimated to be about 1200-ft elevation, but lucky for me there is a small loop trail that climbs enough for now. This is the trail I took today.

Early bloomers, top, Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) buds. Bottom left, Common Violet (Viola sororia), and right, Spicebush flowers (Lindera benzoin).

Even though it’s only the last week of March, there’re already plenty of wildflowers to be seen. Such a welcome sight at the end of winter!

Gorgeous trailwork

Some of the earlier reviews on AllTrails for this preserve complain about the overgrown trails. Well, my experience (albeit only on this one short trail) was exactly the opposite. The trails here are gorgeous—thoughtfully placed and well-maintained. I had ZERO complaints. Furthermore, everything is very clearly marked. The Preserve is currently undergoing some construction at the farm, and even the detours are very clear and unambiguous. Ignore the bad reviews of years past, for sure!

That view!

As you can see from this image, I didn’t get very far from the Smith Farm, but still had a wonderful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So many violets

Almost this entire walk was carpeted in violets. Pretty sure they’re all the same variety, Common Violets (Viola sororia).

You can find out more about Bailey Mountain Preserve from their website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track. Note, this now opens in AllTrails. I think the mileage is just more accurate than in Gaia, which was my previous go-to.


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