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September 2012
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Jim Hallsey on the MST on the eastern rim of Linville Gorge. Photo by Bob Johnson. 

Jim Hallsey, who first put the route for the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail on paper completed the 1000-mile trek on Monday, September 3 by hiking, biking and canoeing across the state.


Fittingly, he finished just as supporters of the MST celebrate the 35th anniversary of the trail's genesis in a September 9, 1977 speech by then NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development Howard Lee to a National Trails Symposium at Lake Junaluska in Haywood County.


Doris Hammett and Howard Lee in 1977 at Lake Junaluska Trail Conference

In 1977 Doug Clark, a reporter for The Mountaineer, said that in his speech Lee "surprised perhaps even hardcore outdoorsmen with the outline of an ambitious state project" of a "state trail from the mountains to the coast, a trail leading 450 miles through communities as well as natural areas."


Lee said the trail "could draw people together and help us know a little more about ourselves and help us understand our neighbors a little better." He told the 200 trail leaders from across the country "how great it would be if other states would follow suit and if these state trails could be linked together to establish a national trail."


While inspirational, the speech was also realistic. He said it would take years to complete and that funds would be hard to come by. He stressed the need for a triumvirate of federal, state and local officials to work toward completion and that he would count heavily on land donations from private and corporate owners. He charged the Trails Committee to provide him a feasibility report. 


Howard Lee speaks again at the 2011 FMST Annual Meeting. Video by Randy Johnson.
Howard Lee speaks again at the 2011 FMST Annual Meeting. Video by Randy Johnson.

For Hallsey, former FMST board member and now the volunteer leader of the South Ashe County Task Force, hiking the trail literally turns a dream he helped create into reality. He had joined the state Recreation Division in 1970 just as there was an explosion of public interest and political will in the country to address the long term recreational needs of the country's rapidly growing population. That's when Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund and began providing matching grants to states and local governments for parks planning, construction and land acquisition.


Read more about the history of the MST...



Trail Dedication - Ribbon Cutting
Jim Hallsey cutting the ribbon with his grandchildren to dedicate the MST he helped build in Ashe County. Photo by Shelton Wilder.

As Jim neared completion of the MST and the 35th anniversary of the trail, we asked him to share his thoughts about the trail - past, present and future. No one has been connected to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail longer than Jim Hallsey. It was his plan for the MST in 1978 that was adopted by the State Trails Committee. He has been an FMST board member and currently is the volunteer leader of the FMST's South Ashe County Task Force that builds and maintains sections of the trail. He has persevered through bureaucratic roadblocks, funding deficiencies and even snowstorms to help create and build the trail. In recent years much of that work has been by hand. Read a few of Jim's memories and observations...


  • REI corporate logoThanks to REI for a very generous $20,000 grant to help FMST build more trail all over North Carolina!
  • We're delighted that a regional planning effort is now underway that will address the long-standing issue of the location of the trail between the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Originally, the trail was proposed to parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway after leaving the GSMNP. However, the parkway owns almost no land in this area where it crosses the Cherokee Reservation, and we have never been able to locate a workable route for the trail. This planning process will allow us to look at the region again to find a new route for the MST. If you'd like to get involved, please join us at the first public workshop in Sylva on September 13th or e-mail Kate Dixon at [email protected] so she can keep you informed about progress.
  • MST Open House in Orange County. Photo by JoEllen Mason.
    FMST helped Orange County, State Parks and others organize an Open House meeting where more than 100 people turned out to learn about the trail and progress in building it in Alamance, Orange and Durham counties. Some of the neighbors of the Cane Creek Reservoir, where the trail is proposed to go, are concerned about privacy and property rights, and we addressed their questions about the status of the trail in their area and the experiences of trail neighbors in other areas. We appreciated the Chapel Hill News editorial in support of the trail.
  • A new plan for the MST in and around the Croatan National Forest has just been completed thanks to the Eastern Carolina Rural Planning Organzation, Alta Greenways and funding from NCDOT. FMST volunteers John Jaskolka, Terry Smith and Bill Sadler spent many hours wading through pocosins to help the planning team develop a workable plan in this challenging trail environment. If you'd be interested in helping to implement the plan, please e-mail Kate Dixon at [email protected].


  • Pilot Mountain
    Pilot Mountain
    State Parks has designated 12 miles of trail in Pilot Mountain State Park as part of the MST. We hope you'll join us for a celebration of the new trail on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 pm. That day, we'll also be announcing the new backroad route that hikers will use to incorporate the Pilot Mountain trails into their statewide treks.
  • Attend the first public workshop to develop a regional trail plan for far western North Carolina and help determine the MST route between the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway on Thursday, September 13 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Jackson County Library, 310 Keener Street, Sylva.
  • October is Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month! Celebrate the occasion by participating in one of the activities organized by FMST and our many friends.
    • Enter your MST photos in our 2nd annual photo contest. You can submit up to two photographs in each of three categories - The View from the Trail, People on the Trail and Youth Photographer. The deadline for submission is October 31, 2012. To be inspired, check out the photos that were submitted last year.
    • Twilight below Potato Knob, Black Mountains - Stephen Schoof
      One of the winning photo in the 2011 MST Photo Contest. Photo by Stephen Schoof.
      Register now for Campout! Carolina which is organized by EarthShare NC, a coalition (including FMST) of conservation groups that participate in workplace giving campaigns. Campout! Carolina is an annual event that encourages
      people to show their support of the environment by camping out in a favorite camping location. Camp one night or the entire weekend of October 12-14.
    • Hear North Face climber Cory Richards describe his winter ascent of the 13th highest peak in the Himalayas at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 10th in Raleigh. All proceeds from the VIP reception before Cory's talk will be donated to FMST to support the trail. Thanks to Great Outdoor Provision Co. for sponsoring this event.
    • Celebrate Casktoberfest, a cask ale party in a Bavarian festival atmosphere, with our friends at Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh on Thursday, October 4 from 5 pm to 10 pm. Big Boss will be donating 10% of all proceeds to FMST.
    • Join other FMST volunteers at a workday in October (or another month) to help build and maintain the MST. Check out the FMST calendar to find a date and location that work for you.



Show your love of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail by being one of the first 300 people to buy a specialty MST license plate 

MST License Plate


Why buy an MST plate now?

  1. It's a fun way to show your love of hiking and the MST
  2. It's a great way to provide financial support for the MST - $20 of the $30 annual cost will be returned to FMST to build, protect and promote the trail
  3. Your plate will have a low number which willl identify you as one of the early supporters of the MST.
  4. If you want a personalized plate, most options are still available if you order now.

How can you order your plate? Fill out the application form and mail it with your check to FMST today.


When FMST has pre-sold 300 plates, the NC Division of Motor Vehicles will produce the plates and mail them to everyone who has pre-ordered. To date, we have sold 190 plates. Just 110 to go!


Please act now.The NC General Assembly has given us only a short time to sell the first 300 plates before the authorization for the plate expires. Now is your chance to have an MST plate.


Questions? Please contact Kate Dixon, FMST Executive Director, at 919-698-9024 or [email protected].


Financial donations make this trail possible. You can join online or print and mail your membership form.
Your donation will leave a legacy for future generations. 

Thanks for your support of the trail!

Contact Info
Kate Dixon
Executive Director
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail