At the start of each guided hike this 42nd birthday weekend, these words will be shared.  We hope they rouse you to thank those who have made this trail so special and encourage you to join our ranks in the years to come. 

September 6, 2019

Forty-two years ago, I was proud to join many others bolstering the idea for a public hiking trail across North Carolina. From the beginning, our hopes have been to showcase and protect North Carolina’s diverse natural beauty and create a unique way for people to enjoy the great outdoors. But the overriding vision has been for the trail to be a way of uniting people of different backgrounds to share a common purpose–building something which will enhance the lives of our generations and those to come. Today, 42 years later — we have turned much of that vision into reality.  Each year the trail introduces thousands to the natural wonders of North Carolina. Others have discovered the special fulfillment that comes working together to build the 1175-mile trail.

Your presence today is another step toward achieving the MST goals. Because you have come, you can share your experiences and pass along an invitation for others to participate. That’s important because our progress has been primarily through the energy and ideas of thousands like you across North Carolina.

For decades the non-profit Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail has been the conduit for public support of the trail.  I invite you to learn more about the Friends on our web page and see the many different ways people can and do help. It is likely some of you are already members and/or MST volunteers.  Thanks for your commitment. To everyone, my best wishes for you to have fun today on your hike and hope that you will meet some new friends.  Also, please accept my invitation for you to come back alone or with friends, family and others to enjoy the Mountains-to-Sea Trail one step at a time.

– Howard Lee

Former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, 1977 – 1981; Former Mayor of Chapel Hill; Past Friends of the MST Board Member