Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve trails. 6.6. miles.
Who knew that just down U.S. 220 from Roanoke and seven-tenths of a mile in toward Rocky Mount on 220 Business lurked 6.6 new-to-us miles of hiking. The Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve, dedicated in 1999 from a gift of land from the Lee family, is a tree-covered ridge just north of town, with a high point of 1,740 feet.
With that height as the apex, the Slope Trail is just that – a gently inclined, mildly switch-backed pathway taking you up to the ridge. We turned right onto the East Loop, and passed the high point without catching it, both because of leaf cover and that there appeared to be a higher knob ahead – beyond where the trail hairpins to turn westward toward the other loop.
The trails – Slope, East, West and the Connector between the two loops – are all wide, clean, well-blazed and entirely pleasant and easy. The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All did not make us go too fast – despite a need to get to Winston-Salem in the afternoon – and yet we walked 20-minute miles for the first time in a long time, and without hurrying.
We at lunch just after the far-west hairpin of the West Loop, with faint views out through the trees to the ridge beyond the (not-in-sight) town of Rocky Mount below. And then we sauntered on down, talking about maybe the easiest 6.6 miles we've ever walked.
How to get there: U.S. 220 south from Roanoke to 220 Business toward Rocky Mount; seven-tenths of a mile to Technology Drive on the right and the parking lot just beyond the kiosk.
Hike: October 16, 2010