Friends of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) invites hikers of all skill levels to help celebrate the trail’s birthday each year in September. Join one of 33 group hikes in 27 trail towns across the state!
From Cherokee to Nags Head, you’ll find hikes from one to 12 miles, through all types of landscape, from easy to strenuous. “This will be a great opportunity to explore North Carolina’s natural beauty with the help of hike leaders who have extensive local knowledge of the trail and area attractions,” said Betsy Brown, Outreach Manager for the Friends of the MST.
In Blowing Rock, a moderate, five-mile hike proceeds north from Thunderhill Overlook to Goshen Creek. Mostly downhill, this hike begins on the edge of forever with 100 mile views and crosses several forested areas with interesting rock formations. It then descends into field and forest hiking. Explore much more post-hike, including great dining, world-class exhibits at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Artists in Residence at Edgewood Cottage, and plenty of live music throughout the weekend!
The 42-Mile Challenge also starts near Blowing Rock. This is a great option for those looking to push their mileage while supporting the Friends’ work on the MST! Hikers will tackle 42 miles on the trail near Blowing Rock, while raising $10 for every mile hiked.
Registration for organized hikes is open, and accessible through the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website. Depending on the hike, there is a limit to the number of people who can register, anywhere from fifteen to a hundred. Hikes are free, though Friends encourages donations to support their continuing work on the MST. A special 42nd MST Birthday Hike t-shirt is available! Hikers are also encouraged to hike anywhere, anytime over the weekend on their own, and share their stories. Find detailed information about these and the Hike on Your Own option at mountainstoseatrail.org/birthdayhike/
The MST Birthday Hike is not only an opportunity for hikers to learn about the MST – it is also a time for them to get to know trail communities across the state. Hikers can stick to their closest trail town, or they can travel to another area of North Carolina they wish to explore. Many towns will provide information about local events, restaurants, and attractions in the trail towns and hikers can become better acquainted with the areas.
Chuck Millsaps, president of the Great Outdoor Provision Co. (GOPC), says, “We are thrilled to see so many communities hosting hikes across the state as we celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s such fun to send folks out on the trail and then hear their hike stories the next time they stop by.” GOPC is the exclusive sponsor of the MST Birthday Hike. It’s a North Carolina-based outdoor equipment and clothing retailer, with nine stores across the area.
This will be the third year of celebrating the birth of the MST, founded forty-two years ago. In 2017, hikers across the state walked different legs of the 1175-mile trail, successfully hiking the entire trail in a day. The second year, solo hikers and groups were encouraged to hike any area of the trail they wished and report their journey back to Friends of MST.
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together communities and volunteers to build, protect and promote the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, connecting North Carolina’s natural treasures and communities. The trail itself is 1175 miles, and spans from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.