Covenant Village resident Gerald Deal explores the community trails with his faithful pal.

A Path Less Taken – Exercise on the Trails

by Gerald Deal, Covenant Village Resident
(Published in The Villager newsletter – June 2024)

As residents of Covenant Village, we are very aware of the natural beauty and flora diversity of our 53-acre campus. As much of it is North Carolina Piedmont terrain, our campus can be challenging for those less sure of foot. Hopefully, the paved sidewalks should themselves entice residents to explore and exercise at any season as our climate invariably can produce a “perfect” day to be outside. Where the sidewalks end, there are paved streets, especially through the cottage village, where traffic is usually light and slow-paced. There’s plenty of natural elevation to give a good healthy challenge to one’s physical body.

Resident Gerald Deal enjoys talking to Grounds Foreman Chip Ballard about the natural surroundings and then sharing his knowledge with other Residents.

During COVID, self-isolation became the norm. For those in the apartments, it meant living behind closed doors and not congregating in common areas. Residents were encouraged to go outside where they had space, fresh air, and sunshine, and could be with friends to enjoy real face time and maintain separation. As an enticement and to expand the outdoor facilities, the natural trails were developed. 

There are two trails. The longer and less demanding is located through the woodlot that separates our large apartment and healthcare complex and the cottages along Covenant Drive. This area is predominately an undisturbed natural area. A mixture of native trees and plants along with invasive vines and shrubs you usually find in undisturbed areas. It is bounded on its lower side by a small stream. Many of the cedar poles edging this path were harvested from the cedar trees that grew here and were not able to compete with the over-story canopy of other hardwoods. 

This longer path is accessed from the sidewalk that starts beside the Woodland Wing of the Health Center and winds down behind that wing. It’s a short walk down that sidewalk to the trail, which is marked on your right. There are cedar poles that line its edges. The other end of this trail is off the paved sidewalk that begins in the far corner of the main parking lot. That end of the longer natural trail starts near the second bench and cedar poles define it. This path was cleared, and some improvements were made in areas to make it less uneven. Good walking shoes that you don’t mind soiling are a given.

The second natural trail is demanding. It starts off the same paved sidewalk in the far corner of the main parking lot, just a short distance from the beginning of the sidewalk and on the right. All the natural paths are marked with a post “Trail” sign. This second path begins with a steep climb, and there are no cedar poles edging this hike. This path is an out-and-back walk following the chain link fence that borders the previously purchased Smyre property. It is usually covered with leaf litter, and you will see the many granite outcrops that this oak forest has covered. In season, some native Azaleas are blooming, as well as Dogwoods and a lone struggling big-leaf Magnolia. Wild blueberries struggle along the fence. These areas are alive and hopefully much of its offering will remain with us after the new expansion is completed. I hope this may encourage more of us to take advantage of our own natural walk in the woods. 

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