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October 2013
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FMST welcomes new staff member


FMST is delighted to welcome JoEllen Mason as our first Membership and Outreach Coordinator.  JoEllen's job is to focus on increasing the number of FMST members, involving volunteers in our work, and spreading the word about the MST.


JoEllen Mason on the Haw River

Those of you who are "fans" of the FMST facebook page already have experience with JoEllen. For the last five years, she has managed the page as a volunteer - posting updates and encouraging others to share their views and get involved. She was also one of the volunteer leaders of our successful quest to establish an MST special license plate, and she also helps build and maintain trail - particularly on the Eno River section.


JoEllen has been hired by FMST on a half-time basis, and she will continue her work as a realtor with Prudential in the Durham-Chapel Hill area where she has lived since 1993.  JoEllen is a volunteer leader on conservation and outdoor recreation in her community and serves on the Eno River Association Board of Directors.


JoEllen's creativity, energy, sense of humor and passion for the MST has impressed us from the start.  If you'd like to volunteer to help her involve people in our work, contact her at [email protected] or 919-452-4099.

New bridge over High Shoals Creek


Carolyn Sakowski, Allen DeHart, Kate Dixon, Marshall Womack, John Lanman and Darrell McBane at bridge dedication. Photo by Margaret Lanman.

Hikers can now keep their feet dry when they cross High Shoals Creek as they follow the MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Moses Cone Park and US 421 near Boone.


A new bridge was installed over the creek thanks to a $40,000 grant from the federal Recreational Trails Program matched by $7,422 donated by FMST members and 149.5 hours of work donated by FMST volunteers in Watauga County.


Attendees at the dedication ceremony in July received an ample demonstration of the need for the bridge. A rain storm the night before followed by steady rain throughout the day brought a torrent of water down the creek and under the bridge. A hardy group of volunteers and staff crossed the bridge in full rain gear and dry feet to celebrate this great addition to the trail.

FMST supports dual routes to connect Smokies to Blue Ridge Parkway


Sylva, NC
The "river valley route" goes through Sylva NC

For 30 years, the ultimate route of the MST from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) has been uncertain. The original vision was a trail route that would roughly parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway from its southern end just outside the entrance to the GSMNP, but a precise route that would work on the ground had never taken shape.


Now, thanks to a planning effort funded by State Parks exciting new routing ideas have been formulated, and the GSMNP, BRP, Nantahala National Forest and Swain and Jackson counties are all looking at ways to build trails that have the potential to be some of the most popular on the entire MST.


Four routes have been proposed, and FMST is asking that two of them be designated as MST routes of equal stature. The two routes will give MST hikers a choice of hiking entirely through the GSMNP and BRP or hiking a "River Valley Route" along the Tuckaseegee River past mountain farms and small towns. To learn more about the proposed options, read Chapter 6 (pages 32-27) of the draft trail plan funded by State Parks and FMST's comments on the draft plan.  And please take a moment to share your ideas and preferences with FMST by contacting Kate Dixon, Executive Director, at [email protected] or 919-698-9024.


FMST develops new trail routes in the Coastal Plain


People who hike the Cape Fear Arch route will see many carnivorous plants like this Venus Flytrap. Photo by Richard LeBlond.

To help people experience the extraordinary beauty and ecological diversity of North Carolina's Coastal Plain, the FMST Board has been developing new routes between the Falls Lake dam in Raleigh and the Croatan National Forest near New Bern.

  • In 2012, the FMST Board voted to accept paddling the Neuse as an option for people who are seeking to complete the trail. This route goes through Wake, Johnston, Wayne, Lenoir, and Craven counties.
  • In early 2014, FMST will publish directions for a new hiking route that will follow the Neuse River to Smithfield and then cut overland through the Cape Fear Arch, one of the "biological hot spots" of the United States. The route will take hikers through Wake, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender, Onslow and Craven counties.

The route that people have been hiking in eastern NC route has 175 miles of continuous road hiking and does not pass any public natural or historic sites between the Falls Lake dam and New Bern. That is the longest stretch of road hiking anywhere along the MST.  In addition the completion of the 32-mile Neuse Greenway from Raleigh to Clayton added impetus for the change.


Paddling the Neuse River. Photo by Jim Hallsey.

We believe the new options for completing the trail in the Coastal Plain will encourage more people to explore this special part of North Carolina. Hikers will be in an area of great biological diversity and more publicly accessible lands. Paddlers will be able to experience a beautiful river and historically important communities. The overland and river routes will meet up in Johnston and Craven counties.


We welcome your input on the proposed hiking route, and we are also seeking volunteers to help improve paddle access and camping options along the Neuse River. To get involved, please contact Kate Dixon, Executive Director, [email protected] or 919-698-9024. 




1st Place - View from the Trail - Brenden Kjar 'Rays of Light on the MST'
2012 First Place - View from the Trail 
Rays of Light on the MST by Brenden Kjar

ENTER THE PHOTO CONTEST: Submit your best photos in the third-annual MST Photo Contest. Deadline is midnight on Thursday, October 31st. Visit our website to submit your photos, and check out the photos that have already been entered on our flickr site.


ATTEND CASKTOBERFEST ON OCTOBER 3RD: Big Boss Brewing Company has once again made FMST the beneficiary of its big beer festival tomorrow night (Thursday, October 3rd) from 5 pm to 9 pm. Casktoberfest is a great time to sample new varieties and old favorites and also to stop by the FMST booth to meet volunteers and staff and learn more about the trail. Big Boss will be donating 10% of all beer and merchandise sales to FMST as well as making us the beneficiary of donations given to play their signature video game - The Last Barfighter! Come out to enjoy the festivities at 1249 Wicker Drive in Raleigh.


CAMPOUT! CAROLINA: Join thousands of other North Carolinians the weekend of October 11-13 to take part in EarthShare North Carolina's 7th annual Campout!, an annual event that encourages people to turn off the lights, unplug from the computer, and enjoy a night under the stars.  On this weekend people across the state campout in backyards, campsites and favorite backwoods spots to celebrate and show their support for a healthy environment. To register, visit the Campout! Carolina website.  Here at FMST, we hope you'll find a spot along the MST to pitch your tent!


VOLUNTEER ON THE TRAIL: Check out our calendar to find trail workdays and other FMST events scheduled all over the state. 



Trevor and Tennille ten miles from Jockey's Ridge

THREE HIKERS AND A GUIDE DOG COMPLETE THE MST: Congratulations to Dennis O'Neill, Matthew "Grok" Taylor, and Trevor "Zero Zero" Thomas and his guide dog Tennille for completing the MST this spring. Dennis took on the trail as a section-hiker after being diagnosed with ALS.  Matt and Trevor and Tennille completed on the same June day at opposite ends of the state. Thanks to Zero Zero and his guide dog Tennille for bringing so much publicity to the trail with their inspiring journey. A front-page story in the Raleigh News & Observer and articles in other media outlets helped people follow their trek and learn more about North Carolina's state trail.


Volunteers picking up tools NEW "TASK FORCES" APPOINTED TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN THE MST: Over the last couple of years, the FMST Board has appointed several new leaders of the volunteer "task forces" that build and maintain sections of the MST. In some cases, these leaders are taking over from the able people who served before them. In other cases, they are establishing groups for new sections of trail.  These leaders are on the lookout for volunteers to help with their sections. If you are interested, please contact them to get involved:


TWO CORPORATE DONORS MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE MST: For the sixth year, REI has made a generous grant - this time for $10,000 - to support FMST's trail building work and also our efforts to establish new campsites and trail corridor. The Walmart stores in Mebane and Roxboro have made two generous gifts totaling $3000. This is the second year that Walmart has supported FMST's work to build, protect and promote the MST. Please let these companies know how much you appreciate their support for the MST. They are truly making a difference.


STATE PARKS TO UNDERTAKE MASTER PLAN FOR THE MST: State Parks will soon be advertising to hire a consultant - experienced with long distance and state trails - to develop a master plan for the MST. FMST is eager for the planning process to be underway because we believe that a cohesive vision, trail standards and a realistic look at funding and resources are needed to complete the MST and make it one of the great trails in the United States.  When the planning process begins, we'll keep you informed of ways you can get involved and share your ideas.



ONE: Become a member of FMST. 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. 
MST license plate with HK TWO: Buy an MST license plate. For $30 per year, you can show the world your love of the trail and help the trail financially too. $20 of your annual fee will come back to FMST to build, protect and promote the trail. You can now order your plate directly from NC DMV. 
THREE: If your employer hosts a workplace-giving campaign, look for FMST as a giving option. We are a proud member of Earth Share which promotes workplace giving for conservation and environmental groups. We are a giving option in all North Carolina state and federal employee campaigns and in many local government and corporate campaigns too.  FMST code numbers are: State employee campaign - 1102; Federal employee campaign - 30392; United Way of the Triangle - 60001159.
Thanks for your support of the trail! 
Contact Info
Kate Dixon
Executive Director
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail