e-news masthead

 December 2014
Donate Now                                                                              Find us on Facebook



Check out the winning photos and take a few minutes to look at all the submitted photos too!


Thanks to the photographers, and a special thanks to our distinguished panel of judges: Ted Richardson, Simon Griffiths, and Rudy Hayden of Great Outdoor Provision Co. Thanks also to Great Outdoor Provision Co. for donating the contest prizes.


We hope you'll enter your best MST photos in next year's contest. We'll start accepting submissions in August 2015.

First Place, People on the Trail: Tyler Dishmon, Sunset on the MST



FMST is writing a guide book for the entire trail - with east and westbound directions, information about camping and lodging, resupply sites and points of interest along the way. As we complete chapters of the guide, we are posting them on our MST Trail Guide webpage


Check out the newest chapters:

Thanks to the donors that have made the trail guides possible: REI, Ecology Wildlife Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation (which is funding guides for the hiking route in the Coastal Plain). 



Trevor Thomas & Tennille receive completion awards at annual meeting, photo by Shelton Wildler


 Please join us at


FMST's Annual Meeting


Saturday, February 7, 2015
10:00 am to 3:00 pm 
Elon University
(near Burlington)


It's a great way to learn more about trail progress, future projects and how you can get involved. 

This year's keynote speaker will be

 Tom Earnhardt

writer and host of UNC-TV's Exploring NC, who just produced Highway to the Future

a beautiful program about the MST and where it is headed.


Government and economic leaders from 21 towns and 22 counties along the MST route gathered for a two-day conference in Hillsborough in September to learn more about what the MST can mean to their communities and what they can do to help the trail.


2014 Update on Mountains-to-Sea Trail
2014 update on Mountains-to-Sea Trail, video by Randy Johnson

Attendees heard presentations about three other successful long-distance trails, about innovative communities along the MST and about ways that FMST and state government can help. Hillsborough leaders led the group on a tour of its newly-opened section of the MST. All the presentations are available for download from the FMST website.


The conference ended with a brain-storming session when participants identified key issues to focus on including 1) helping people know they can walk the trail now; 2) improving camping and lodging options; and 3) developing a formal accreditation program for trail towns. FMST plans to continue this conversation at a workshop at the FMST annual meeting on Saturday, February 7th, 2015.


Thanks to the donors who made the conference possible: the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, First Citizens Bank and the Hillsborough Tourism Development Authority.



DUKE ENERGY FOUNDATION GIVES $75,000 FOR TRAIL GUIDES AND TRAIL BUILDING ON COASTAL HIKING ROUTE: Thanks to Duke's generous grant, FMST is publishing trail guides for a new hiking route in the coastal plain through Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender and Onslow counties. As I write this newsletter, the first of the four trail guide chapters is on the website. Land of History (Segment 14B) takes MST travelers through eastern Bladen and western Pender counties - home to extraordinary historical sites from the Revolutionary War through the New Deal to today. The other coastal plain guides will be available on the FMST website by the end of 2014.


Les Love building trail with the CMC
Les Love helps the Carolina Mountain Club build trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, photo by Becky Smucker.
Thanks to volunteers, federal land managers and local governments for great projects statewide to open new trail and campgrounds including: 
  • 2.2 miles of new trail from Waterrock Knob to Scotts Creek Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway built by Carolina Mountain Club volunteers. CMC expects to complete another two miles of trail heading west from Waterrock Knob by the end of 2015;
  • 2.15 new miles from the Black Mountain Campground to Neals Creek built by volunteers with the NC High Peaks Trail Association. This new trail shifts hikers off a road through the Pisgah National Forest;
  • Four new miles including a bridge over Big Elkin Creek are exciting steps forward in the Elkin Valley Trail Association's efforts to build continuous trail from Stone Mountain State Park to downtown Elkin. 
  • Four miles of MST are being constructed by volunteers along the Haw River thanks to Alamance County's outstanding work to acquire land and easements for the MST. This new stretch of trail will connect to 3.5 miles already open in the Burlington area. 
  • 1.8 miles of Riverwalk opened along the Eno River in downtown Hillsborough. This beautiful section of MST built by the Town of Hillsborough will soon be extended when Classical American Homes completes a bridge to connect the Riverwalk to another mile of completed trail along mountain-laurel-covered bluffs overlooking the river.
  • Fifteen miles of MST along the Eno River in Orange and Durham counties were dedicated at a celebration in October. Multiple land managing agencies made this accomplishment possible including State Parks, Durham City and County, NC Department of Agriculture's Plant Conservation Program, and the UNC-Chapel Hill Botanical Garden. These fifteen miles are a combination of new and repaired trail built by FMST and Eno River Association volunteers. They connect directly to 93 miles of trail along Falls Lake and on the Raleigh and Clayton Neuse River greenways.
  • A new campsite was constructed by FMST volunteers on NC Wildlife Resources Commission game land at Falls Lake near Raleigh. The site makes multi-day backpacking trips much easier because it is located exactly in the middle of two existing sites that are 21 miles apart.  
  • A final bridge opened this month to complete 28 miles of MST on Raleigh's Neuse River greenway.


Mama Goose kisses a veteran, photo by Jet Lag
WARRIOR HIKE SCOUTS MST FOR ANNUAL "WALK OFF THE WAR" HIKE: Sharon "Mama Goose" Smith and Craig "Jet Lag" Smith are close to completing their MST thru-hike in preparation for groups of veterans on annual trips on the MST to "Walk off the War." They've received some extraordinary media coverage including a radio interview on WUNC-FM and articles in the Blowing Rocket, Fayetteville Observer and on Wilmington TV


MAKING NORTH CAROLINA THE "GREAT TRAILS STATE": FMST has been working with the Carolina Thread Trail and East Coast Greenway to educate state leaders about the economic potential of trails - particularly long-distance trails - in North Carolina and encouraging them to take action to make North Carolina the "Great Trails State." In July, we made a presentation to secretaries from five North Carolina departments (Commerce, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Cultural Resources and Environment). They expressed strong support for our work and directed their staff in the "Healthy Environments Collaborative" to work with us to develop a joint plan to promote trails, streamline programs and increase trail investments. In October, we met again with the secretaries to present that joint plan with their staff. We are now meeting with legislators to talk about our work and the potential of trails. 



STATE PARKS UNDERTAKES MST MASTER PLAN: State Parks has hired Planning Communities to help develop a master plan for the MST. FMST hopes that the plan will help all the partners involved in building, maintaining and promoting the trail to develop 1) a unified vision for the trail, 2) a definition of partner roles, 3) standards for signage, construction techniques and marketing, and 4) plans for raising the resources needed to make the MST one of the most popular trails in the country. When the public participation stage of the planning process gets underway, we will let you know about opportunities to get involved.

Robert Johnson's MST painting was auctioned at Tunes for the Trail



Long-distance runners looking for MST races that support the trail now have two options: the new Table Rock Ultras 50M and 50K that follow challenging courses through Linville Gorge to the top of Table Rock Mountain and the 12M and 50K MST Challenge @ Falls Lake, organized by Bull City Running. This year, Table Rock Ultras raised $3000 to help FMST build, protect and promote the trail.  Bull City Running gave $4500, its fifth annual contribution from this popular race.



EDIBLE PLANTS ON THE MST!: Two-time MST completer and herbalist Heather Houskeeper has written a great book to help you identify and prepare edible plants along the trail.


TUNES FOR THE TRAIL: Thanks to members and section-hikers Carter Worthy and Megg Rader for the idea to throw the trail a party during Raleigh's Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in October! They recruited Great Outdoor Provision Co., Mahler Fine Art Gallery, Big Boss Brewing Comany, The Pit Barbecue Restaurant to donate the music, venue, drinks and food, and Robert Johnson created a beautiful painting of the trail that was auctioned off that night. Thanks to all the long-time members and many new trail friends who attended that night and helped raise $2075 for the trail.



WHAT'S INVOLVED IN BUILDING TRAIL?:  Have you ever wondered who is building the MST and how they do it?  Heather Houskeeper's blog about her first day of trail building with Carolina Mountain Club gives a great picture of the fun and skill involved.
Griphoist in Action: Trail Work on Hazard Trees
Griphoist in Action: Trail Work on Hazard Trees


SEE A GRIPHOIST IN ACTION: Some of FMST's most skilled, experienced trail crews use griphoists to move rocks, logs, stumps and other dangerous, heavy objects. Thanks to Sandra Jacobi for working with Steve Lund, FMST's griphoist and chainsaw guru, to craft a video to help train volunteers in the safe, effective use of a griphoist.


INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING?: There are many ways to get involved with the trail. Check out our list of volunteer jobs and calendar to find scheduled workdays and other events. If you have other ideas about ways to help, please contact JoEllen Mason, FMST's Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected] or 919-452-4099.


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