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Trail News: From the mountains to the sea 
2016: Year of the Bridge!
Multiple bridges - big and small - are being installed state-wide. Highlights - west to east - include:

Boone Fork - this bridge saves hikers from a knee-deep wade along a very popular section of the trail in Price Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone in MST Segment 5.  A $200,000 grant through the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administered by NC State Parks and $50,000 from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation provided the needed funds. The bridge opened today - Monday, October 3 - in time for leaf season.  

Boone Fork bridge prior to opening. Photo by Randy Johnson.

Elkin - The Elkin Valley Trail Association has just opened a 178-foot bridge that extends the MST from downtown Elkin toward Stone Mountain State Park (MST Segment 6). This bridge was also funded with $200,000 from RTP and gifts by many individual and corporate donors. 

Hillsborough - The nonprofit Classical American Homes constructed a bridge over the Eno River to connect four miles of the MST through downtown to the 1949 Occoneechee Speedway and on to mountain laurel bluffs overlooking the river. This bridge was also funded with a $200,000 RTP grant plus matching funds from Classical American Homes and several local corporations and citizens.  This bridge is in MST Segment 9.

Eno River State Park - a generous individual donor gave $25,000 to fund preliminary design for a pedestrian bridge over the Eno River at Pleasant Green Road in MST Segment 10. This bridge is an important part of efforts to connect Hillsborough to the 105 miles of completed trail along the Eno River, Falls Lake, and Neuse River in Durham, Wake and Johnston counties.

Building a bridge at Stones Creek Game Land. Photo by Tim Supple.
Falls Lake - Thanks to family and friends of Dustin Powers, a young man who loved the outdoors and the MST, for donating and lending a hand in his memory to replace older footbridges along the 62-mile Falls Lake part of the trail. The first bridge in his memory was constructed on June 4th.  Now remaining memorial funds for Dustin will be used to help match a $25,000 grant from the Triangle Community Foundation for more sustainable bridges along this special part of the MST (Segment 10).

Stones Creek Game Land - The Jones Onslow Electric Corporation donated three 40-foot power poles so that volunteers could build a bridge over Stones Creek in this beautiful game land near Jacksonville on the Coastal Crescent route of the trail (MST Segment 15B). 

Mark your Calendars! 2017 is the MST's 40th Anniversary!

On September 9, 1977, Howard N. Lee, then Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development, made an audacious speech to a National Trails Symposium at Lake Junaluska which has fired the imaginations and energy of NC trail enthusiasts ever since. In that speech, Lee recommended that North Carolina build a "trail from the mountains to the coast, a trail leading through communities as well as natural areas."
Howard Lee and Doris Hammett in 1977
Almost forty years later, that trail has become a reality. Nearly 700 miles of trail have been built, and people now walk across North Carolina, using back road connections where trail has not yet been built. Every year new trail opens, and more and more people enjoy the trail for day hikes with their families, overnight backpack trips with friends, and cross-state treks which become adventures of a lifetime.
To celebrate the accomplishments of the last forty years and prepare for the future, Friends is planning a series of fun, informative events as well as publishing a complete set of hiking guides.  Please mark your calendars now, and watch your inbox over the next couple of months for registration materials so you can get involved!
  • Gathering of Friends - Friday, March 24 to Sunday, March 26 - Elkin
40th Anniversary celebrations kick-off with an expanded annual meeting in Elkin, a friendly town between Stone and Pilot Mountain state parks that has enthusiastically embraced the MST. Plan to come Friday and stay through Sunday so you can enjoy all the festivities. On Friday night, we're holding a "Hiking Boot" Gala - an evening of fellowship and recognition of the accomplishments of the first 40 years. On Saturday, the annual membership meeting will focus on where the trail is headed and goals for the next 40. National Geographic 2012 Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who will hike the MST in 2017, will be the keynote speaker. Throughout the weekend - from Friday through Sunday - the Elkin Valley Trail Association is organizing a program of great excursions - from hikes, to bird walks, to winery tours - to help you explore the MST, Elkin, and the Yadkin Valley.
  • Regional Trail Guides - Release date - Friday, March 24

Friends will be publishing trail guidebooks for three regions of the trail - mountains, piedmont, and coastal plain/Outer Banks. You will be able to buy your copies at the Gathering of Friends in Elkin. Afterwards they will be available through the Friends website, John F. Blair, Publisher, or your local bookstore or online vendor.


  • MST Communities Conference - Thursday, May 4 to Friday, May 5 - Elkin
The 2nd biennial conference will provide an opportunity for elected officials, government staff, and tourism leaders of communities along the MST to learn how to support hikers and make the trail a success in their area.
  • Jennifer Pharr Davis Hikes the MST - August to November - North Carolina wide
National Geographic 2012 Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who lives in Asheville, will hike the entire MST starting in August. She will spend 3 to 4 months on the trail, and along the way MST Friends will have an opportunity to meet her at special events and hikes and read about her adventures as she blogs, posts on facebook and instagram, and speaks to local media.
  • MST in a Day - Saturday, September 9 - North Carolina wide
Forty years to the day that Howard Lee gave his original speech, we're inviting you and hundreds of other trail enthusiasts to walk or paddle a portion of the trail so that, through our collective efforts, 100% of the trail will be covered in a single day. You will be able to register to hike your favorite section or sign up to explore a new area starting at the Gathering of Friends in March. 

Greensboro's Peninsula Trail renamed for Pat Crockett
The City of Greensboro has just renamed a portion of the MST (Segment 8) that follows the Peninsula Trail on Greensboro's watershed lakes in memory of Pat Crockett, an avid runner and lover of the MST who died when he was hit by a car as he finished a run on the trail. His wife, Amy, also asked that contributions in his memory be given to Friends of the MST, and we have invested them in our endowment to provide a steady source of funds to care for the trail forever.  We are honored to be able to honor Pat's memory in this way.
Trail master plan underway in southeastern North Carolina
Long-term planning for Eastern North Carolina's newest major hiking trail, the Coastal Crescent, begins in earnest at meetings 
Oct. 4-11 in White Lake, Sneads Ferry, Burgaw and Roseboro. The project is made possible thanks to $35,000 grant from Duke Energy.

Planning consultant Destination by Design has analyzed the area to identify places that might work for new trail connections, and now we are looking for ideas, natural and historic sites, route suggestions and advice from the best sources - people living in the counties the trail crosses. 

Jones Lake State Park. Photo by Pete Wetzel.
Last year Friends of the MST launched the Coastal Crescent through natural areas, small towns, and along rural roads in a part of North Carolina that is one the most biologically diverse areas in the United States. The trail goes through Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender, and Onslow counties and is 264 miles long.  Hikers who are walking 1150 miles across North Carolina on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail currently use the Coastal Crescent route to complete their trek.

Hikers already find the route interesting and pleasant, but the plan will help us make it even better so that it attracts more and more people to visit this special part of North Carolina. In addition to natural features, a planning emphasis will be on tying in with small businesses, including lodging, supplies, outfitters, and restaurants. This trail has unique characteristics to attract hikers, bird watchers, adventurers, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts from across the state and nation. 

Orange Water and Sewer Authority votes to support MST
In August, the Board of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) voted to allow the MST to be built along its Cane Creek Reservoir in southwestern Orange County.  As part of that decision, OWASA outlined conditions to guide planning and construction of the trail so that it protects water quality, minimizes risk, and respects the privacy of neighboring landowners. 

This vote was a huge step forward for the part of the MST that will link Saxapahaw to Hillsborough, on its 1150-mile route from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. Howard Lee, founder of the MST and long-time Orange County resident, spoke to radio station WCHL about the decision.

Friends of the MST worked with OWASA and Orange County to get to this point. The OWASA staff did impressive work to draft the conditions, and the OWASA Board carefully listened and responded to almost 100 written and in-person comments.

Orange County has now been charged with developing a trail route that meets the conditions laid out by OWASA, and Friends of the MST will help work with adjacent landowners and build and maintain the trail. There are places where the land owned by OWASA is very narrow, and we will need help from neighboring landowners willing to allow the trail to cross their land. We will also need to identify trailheads for public access.

Dotted line illustrates planned future route of the MST. Red indicates completed trail. Map by Curtis Belyea.

New campsites open in Oak Ridge and along Falls Lake
New campsite in Oak Ridge. Photo by Michelle Revoir.

Thanks to the town of Oak Ridge and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for making two new campsites available along the MST route.  The Oak Ridge campsite was constructed by the town in its park on Linville Road in MST Segment 8  

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission authorized Friends of MST volunteers to build a second site on land it manages on Falls Lake about 10 miles west of the dam (MST Segment 10). This new site at Falls Lake creates a string of five campsites approximately 10 miles apart that make this part of the MST great for overnight backpacking trips.  

Information about the new campsites is available on the trail updates page of the website, and it will be incorporated soon into the segment trail guides.  
State Parks to purchase waterfall with state bond funds
State Parks is working with Wilkes County, the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) and landowner Dan Park to purchase Carter Falls, a stunning waterfall between the town of Elkin and Stone Mountain State Park. Funding for the purchase is to come from the Connect NC bond that was approved by voters this spring. The bond package has $75 million for State Parks including $4.5 million for the MST and other state trails. This is the first MST project identified. The land is to be owned by State Parks but managed for the trail by Wilkes County and EVTA.

Carter Falls. Photo by Joe Mickey.

Thanks to our donors!
Thanks to all members and volunteers for helping Friends of the MST accomplish so much. Two donors who have made a particular difference over many years are REI Co-op and the Ecology Wildlife Foundation.

This year, REI donated $25,000 to allow Friends to upgrade the website, update the trail guides, provide tools to our trail crews, and plan for the 40th anniversary celebrations. Tiffiny Consoli, manager of the REI store in Cary, joined the Friends Board in January, and she is already deeply involved - helping to recruit and train volunteers to staff festival booths and leading our committees for the Jennifer Pharr Davis hike and board nominations. We appreciate how REI helps in other ways too - including highlighting the MST at programs in its stores - including an October 6 presentation at the Greensboro store by Greg Yahn, who completed hiking the MST in 2014 and leads our Upper Haw River trail crew (eastern Guilford and northern Alamance).  

Thanks also to Ecology Wildlife Foundation which has made annual grants of $5000 since 2011. Their funding has been particularly important in our work to write and publish the trail guides and to focus on gaining permission to build new trail and create campsites.
Get involved!
Fri, Oct 14-Sun, Oct 16
Join Friends volunteers from all over the state to help build new MST in the Eno River State Park. Camping available.  Come one day or all three. 

Other upcoming events include:
Tue, Oct 4 - Coastal Crescent Public Meeting - White Lake
Wed, Oct 5 - Coastal Crescent Public Meeting - Burgaw
Thu, Oct 6 - Coastal Crescent Public Meeting - Sneads Ferry
Thu, Oct 6 - Hiking & Building the MST by Greg Yahn at REI - Greensboro
Sat, Oct 8 - Eno Trail workday - Durham
Sat, Oct 8 - Upper Haw River workday - Burlington area
Tue, Oct 11 - Coastal Crescent Public Meeting - Roseboro
Sat, Oct 15 - Pisgah National Forest Workday - Morganton area - contact Doug Veazey
Sat, Oct 15 - Sauratown Trail Workday - north of Winston-Salem - contact Steven Mierisch
Future - Visit our website calendar for more events you can be part of!
We're looking for a few good men and women
We're looking for volunteers to fill special new roles for the trail.

Wikipedia Editor(s):  Are you a person who already edits pages on Wikipedia or would you like to start?  We're glad there's a page about the MST on Wikipedia, but we notice that no one seems to be keeping an eye on it to keep it up to date. We're happy to share information with anyone who is working on it.

MST Ambassadors: Friends is recruiting volunteers who are interested in staffing festival booths and speaking to groups about the MST. A group of volunteers has already formed in the Triangle, and they would welcome anyone else who would like to join. In addition, we're looking for people who would like to organize similar groups in other parts of the state. We'll provide training and materials to get you started. For more information, please contact Betsy Brown, Friend's Outreach Coordinator, at 919-518-1713 or [email protected].

Four great ways to support the MST
ONE: Become a member. Financial donations make this trail possible. You can join online or print and mail your membership form.

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 financially too. $20 of your annual fee will come back to Friends of the MST to build, protect, and promote the trail. You can order your plate directly from NC DMV.

THREE: If your employer hosts a workplace-giving campaign, look for Friends of the MST as a giving option. We are a proud member of EarthShare 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. Friends code numbers are: State employee campaign -- 1102; Federal campaign - 30392; United Way of the Triangle - 60001159.

FOUR: Give through Amazon Smile. Amazon has created a very easy way to give to Friends through That website works the same way works, has the same products, and uses your same passwords. The only difference is that Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase directly to the charity of your choice. When you first use, it will ask you to select a charity to receive your gifts. It's easy to find Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the list. After that, every time you purchase through, your purchases will help build, protect and promote the MST.
Happy Trails to You!

Kate Dixon
(919) 698 9024
[email protected]

Volunteers are the heart of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  We need people with a wide variety of skills and interests to build and care for this beautiful trail.

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