You’ve been saving the date!  What will we do this year for the 42nd Birthday Celebration of the MST?  We’re sending you in 27 different directions to explore our amazing trail towns!  Over the September 6-8th weekend, 27 trail towns are hosting group hikes led by experienced hike leaders and local guides. If you are itching for more of a celebratory feat, tackle the 42-Mile Challenge – hike 42 miles on the MST near Blowing Rock over two days while raising funds to support the trail.  Or, simply Hike on Your Own and explore a part of the trail near or far.

From Cherokee to Nags Head, more than 30 guided hikes will take place in or near our wonderful trail towns through all types of beautiful landscapes. Local guides and hike leaders will accompany you as you hike from 1.5 to 12 miles, on easy to strenuous terrain. Because of this great variety, you will be able to find a hike that suits you most anywhere in the state. The hike leaders also have extensive knowledge of the areas and we know you will learn lots from them both about the trail and the community you are exploring. Our trail towns have shared some fun things to do in town, in hopes you’ll make a weekend of it, ranging from the Folk Festival in Greensboro to the Moorefields Bluegrass Festival in Hillsborough.

For a little variety, Kinston is hosting a paddle on the Neuse, and Jacksonville folks will be peddling on the Greenway.  The two most eastern hikes will both be hiking at sunset – Nags Head through Jockey’s Ridge State Park and Surf City, up and over the new bridge which was such a hit during our last Gathering of Friends.  Stop for a glass of wine in Elkin, birthday cake in Currie, or a Sunset Slushie in Roseboro.

The 42-Mile Challenge is just that – hike 42 miles over the weekend while raising $10 a mile for each mile hiked.  Based out of Julian Price Park Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the incomparable Joe Miller (GetGoingNC) will lead two long hikes Saturday and Sunday.  (22 miles from Osborne Mountain Overlook back to Julian Price Park and South Laurel Fork Road south for 20 miles.) Camping, breakfasts, trail snacks, some fun swag and Joe’s guiding expertise are included as part of the Challenge.  You’ll hike through meadows, hit overlooks, climb a few tough spots, all while raising funds to keep the trail fit for another 42 years.

Lastly, you are always welcome to hike on your own, anywhere, anytime, with whomever you choose.  Just remember to report back so we can include your hike in our tales from the trail.

This will be the third year of celebrating the birth of the MST, founded forty-two years ago. In 2017, many of us hiked different legs of the 1175-mile trail, successfully hiking the entire trail in a day. Last year, solo hikers and groups were encouraged to hike any area of the trail they wished and report their journey back to Friends of MST. This is becoming a seriously fun tradition.

Birthday Hike 2019 ShirtThanks to our amazing sponsor, Great Outdoor Provision Co., who is such a strong supporter of hikers, trail workers and our work at Friends.  Their staff enthusiastically endorses the MST, encouraging new hikers to get out and explore across the state, while their financial supports helps us stay focused on improving the trail, year after year.

Registration for this event is now open. Detailed information about all the trail town hikes, 42-Mile Challenge and Hike on Your Own, is also available. Most hikes have a cap on participants, so sign up soon so you aren’t disappointed come Birthday Weekend.

Hikes are free, though we encourage donations to support all of our work on the MST. A special 42nd MST Birthday Hike t-shirt is also available through our partnership with Home State Apparel.

See you on the MST, September 6-8!

Hike photo courtesy of Kevin McCauley