Few places do as good a job of quickly escorting you from civilization as the 189-acre Knight Brown Nature Preserve. Take the Beechwood Bottom Loop Trail from the trailhead and hike clockwise, and you quickly descend to Belews Creek. (As soon as you reach the creek, look across, to the north, for a cascade tumbling down the far slope.) Large sections of three trails run along the creek, which has forged a surprisingly deep valley: in just over a tenth of a mile, the terrain rises 80 vertical feet above the creek. The east-facing slope probed by the Leatherwood Loop Trail has some understory growth, but for the most part, the high canopy provides a protective roof above open terrain below. Nice in summer because it blocks out the sun but not the downslope breezes, nice in winter because the leafy canopy disappears letting the sun’s warming rays penetrate. Belews Creek, which runs west, then north through the preserve, offers rocky relief, spilling over car-size boulders in spots, before mellowing out on its journey to the Dan River.