On Black Friday this year, instead of holiday shopping, I decided to spend several hours hiking with some friends. We met at the Roy J Maness Nature Preserve near Troy and hiked on the Densons Creek Nature Trail. This trail is approximately 4 miles in length, but we hiked about 3 miles of the trail then turned around and hiked back, so we covered about 6 miles in total. It was a brisk but sunny day and we thoroughly enjoyed the trail and the company.

The trail starts from the parking lot of the nature preserve and you walk a few hundred yards down a paved trail on the edge of a pond. The pond is a nice spot for fishing or kayaking. There is a trail of about 1 mile in length that circles the pond, but we did not hike that trail on this day. We went to the left once we got in the woods off the paved path, and you almost immediately pass a small dam on the creek.

The first thing we noticed in this section of trail was the tremendous amount of sand under our feet. Surely the two hurricanes we experienced this fall brought Densons Creek way out of its banks to deposit all that sand. Not much further along you could see small trees and tall grass knocked over and leaves and other debris piled up on the standing small trees and bushes, another sign that the water must have really rushed through this area. Not too much farther along you go by an old railroad trestle.

This trail basically follows the creek for the entire length we went on it, and there are some areas with handrails and other spots with steps and still other places with small footbridges, and even a couple of benches so you can pause and take in the scenery. There are a few tree identification markers, too. The creek is clear and fast flowing, and there were lots of places you caught glimpses of beautiful cascades.

The trail is not difficult because there is not a lot of gain or loss in elevation, but it is not easy either, as there are lots of rocks and roots and leaves. In many places it is hard to keep a sure footing, and all three of us caught ourselves from falling several times. I did actually fall in one place where there were some slick rocks, but was no worse for the wear. I wondered about taking my trekking poles with me but I was glad I had them.

As we neared the place where we planned to turn around, there were some steep rocky banks on the far side of the creek, which really made it look like you are in the mountains – which you are, the Uwharrie Mountains of course. There is one particularly interesting rock outcrop that one of my friends was looking for and we had missed it on the way in, but it was easier to see on the way out, and we stopped there and took some pictures.

After we were done with our hike, and in the spirit of small business Saturday a day early, we did visit the Front Porch Pickin’ Vintage Emporium in Troy, and then I stopped by a friend’s pottery on the way to see my grandma in Seagrove and picked up a few of the last of my holiday gifts. All in all, I was much happier spending my time outside this year instead of fighting the holiday shoppers at the big box stores. I hope to make a black Friday hike an annual tradition.