Editor's Note: With the majority of our members living in the West, we tend to get more information and articles written about trails in that region. However, this week’s trail specific article and photos came to us from Jerry Barker, Board Member, Friends of the MST (Mountain-to-Sea Trail), MST in a Day Coordinator, North Carolina.
For more information:
Kate Dixon, Executive Director
North Carolina’s 1175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail hiked on “MST in a Day”
On the exact 40th birthday of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), more than 1700 people working together completed 100% of the 1175-mile MST hiking route, from Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee line to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. (Three legs of an alternate paddle route were not completed due to paddlers being called away to prepare for Hurricane Irma.)
Mt Mitchell Lands Hiking Group
Although not officially confirmed, it is thought that North Carolina, known as the First in Flight state, can add another first to its list -- the only state where hikers have collaborated to complete a long-distance trail in one day.
Mountain-to-Sea, Segment 24
The average segment was three to five miles with the longest of 21.5 miles. A group of seventeen hikers started a minute after midnight; one hiked from dusk to dawn; one hiked over 25 miles from dawn to dusk; a dozen hiked in memory of a family member. Others were so deep in the woods that it took a couple of days to confirm their completion. Overall enthusiasm for the event resulted in more than 7,300 miles being hiked.
The Parks Family Hikers
The non-profit Friends created MST in a Day to raise awareness of the trail and help celebrate the 40th anniversary of a speech by Howard Lee on September 9, 1977, to a National Trails Conference in North Carolina. Lee, then NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development, said North Carolina should create a “state trail from the mountains to the coast leading through communities as well as natural areas.”
Now nearly 700 miles have been built. Rural roads connect the completed sections for a total of 1,175 miles. The General Assembly designated the MST as a state park in 2000. Each year Friends’ volunteers work more than 30,000 hours on the MST.
The MST runs through 37 counties from the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. The trail connects two National Parks, two national wildlife refuges, ten state parks and three national forests, historical sites, and the highest point in the eastern United States. Unlike most other long-distance trails, the MST occasionally goes through communities, as Lee proposed.
Over 80 people have completed the entire trail with thousands using the trail annually for day hikes and overnight excursions.
For additional information and a video of the day: mountainstoseatrail.org/mstinaday/