The past two weekends I have hiked starting at the Highway 24/27 trailhead outside of Troy. Both times I started on the old road to Lawrenceville that goes to the east just out from the parking area, and connected to the Wood Run Bike Trail from the location of the old house that used to be there – where there’s a monument that talks about the dedication of the property to The LandTrust for Central NC (now Three Rivers Land Trust), who protected the site and then transferred it to the US Forest Service.

This section of the Wood Run Bike Trail is relatively new. You used to have to walk up Wood Run Road to get to where the trail started, but now you can hike from the parking area. Two Saturdays ago a friend and I met and hiked in from that trail to the Keyawee Trail just past the Wood Run parking area and then hiked north on the Uwharrie Trail for about a mile. We were hoping to meet up with some friends who had started at Yates Place, but our timing was off.

We got to a campsite about a mile from the intersection with Keyawee and sat down and rested for a bit. While there we took pictures of the lovely creek beside the camping area, and I heard a black and white warbler. They sound like a squeaky wheel. I “pshed” at him until he came closer and I was able to get a few pictures. Some boy scouts came along on the trail then and the bird took off. I also spotted a yellow violet in bloom and snapped a couple of shots of it before we headed back down the trail.

We hiked the Uwharrie Trail back all the way to 24/27. We ran into some mountain bikers who clearly did not know that the Uwharrie Trail was not a bike trail, as they were trying to hoist their bikes over the large rocks that lace Wood Run Creek. We directed them back to the Keyawee Trail, but I’m not sure if they found their way to the right bike trail or not, as our other friends saw some mountain bikers who fit their description coming down River Road later that day. That day’s trip was about 7 miles in total for us.

The next Saturday we set out on the same route to begin with, taking Wood Run Bike Trail to Wood Run parking area. We also took Keyawee to the Uwharrie Trail and hiked north a little ways before we came to a campsite and creek. Here we took off on a trail that was a little difficult to see because of some recent tree blow downs, but it soon connected us to Wood Run Road, which we took back to the Wood Run parking area. From here we went back on the Wood Run Bike Trail to Highway 24/27.

The second Saturday’s hike was a much different hike though, as the US Forest Service had just carried out a prescribed burn on a good portion of the land where the trail went through on the way to the Wood Run parking area. There were still a few stumps here and there that were smoking, and you could easily pick out the trail from the burnt area around it. The smell of smoke and ashes was not overpowering but it was there. It is always interesting to walk through a forest after a fire though, and its also surprising to me how quickly new grasses and plants shoot up from the blackened forest floor.

Prescribed burns are good at generating that new growth that is so important for wildlife like deer and turkeys. Removing the duff layer of leaves and pine needles and allowing that new growth to come up is one of the main reasons prescribed fire is such an important land management tool. It’s also good for hazard reduction, as you’re much less likely to have a wildfire once that fuel is already used up.

Our second Saturday’s hike was about 5.5 miles. I look forward to hiking this trail again once the new growth comes back from the prescribed burn and seeing the wildlife that will enjoy this enhanced habitat. It’s great that we have all these trails so close to where we live and we can pick and choose and do different loops and lollipops, so even starting at the same place we can see different things. Spring is my absolute favorite time to be in the woods, so while the weather is still great and the spring wildflowers are blooming and the birds are singing, why not pick a trail and try out a hike yourself?