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July 31, 2014

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One of the newly constructed bridges on the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail in Watauga County. Photo by Shelton Wilder

Originally published: 2014-05-01 10:37:40
Last modified: 2014-05-01 10:37:40

Mountains-to-Sea Trail guide in the works

By Jeff Eason

North Carolina’s completed Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is barely two years old and has already become a favorite of both serious and casual hikers.

The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail organization (FMST) is in the process of creating a comprehensive trail guide for the entire trail and hopes to complete and publish the guide by the end of 2015.

Thus far, three chapters of the guide have been completed and can be found at the organization’s website at

“Our goal is to complete 11 of the 16 planned chapters by next year's annual meeting (February 7, 2015), and then finish the entire guide by the end of 2015,” said Kate Dixon, executive director of the FMST.

The three chapters now completed are titled “The High Country: Beacon Heights near Grandfather Mountain to U.S. 421 near Deep Gap,” “Revolution and Textiles: Bryan Park in Greensboro to Eno River State Park at Pleasant Green Road near Hillsborough” and “The Neuse River: Falls Lake Dam in Raleigh to Sam’s Branch Greenway in Clayton.”

“The High Country” details 43 miles of the MST and was written by Carolyn Sakowski. It includes information about trail highlights such as the Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, Hawksbill, Pisgah National Park and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

“This 43-mile segment offers the hiker some of the most astounding scenery in northwestern North Carolina,” wrote Sakowski. “This part of the trail, which travels along the ridge line where elevations range from 3,400 to 4,300 feet, offers views looking down the escarpment into the North Carolina Piedmont.

“Most of this section runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). It begins at Beacon Heights and follows the Tanawha Trail as it travels along the base of Grandfather Mountain, which is one of only 553 certified biosphere reserves in the world.

“The nearby resort towns of Linville, Blowing Rock and Boone offer all amenities. They also make it easy to break this segment into several day hikes.”

The chapter also mentions a difficult point on the section, where the hiker must wade across a stream at Boone Fork, not far from Shulls Mill Road. It also gives the reader information about possible food and restroom stops, and camping facilities.

The map section of the chapter allows the hiker to see the elevation of each portion of the trail in the High Country.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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