We are sharing tales from the MST as hikers are pursuing the 40 Hike Challenge.
This week we are exploring the Great Day Hike #14 in Segment 6, as hiked by Dee Neil and Bill Blackley, both volunteers with Elkin Valley Trails Association. Bill is also on the Friends’ board.
Elkin, once a textile powerhouse that fell on hard times, has reemerged to embrace a diverse future as, among other things, a trail town and the center of one of North Carolina’s largest and best-known winemaking regions. This easy 3.3-mile hike celebrates both the past and future of the town. The hike begins on sidewalks through historic downtown Elkin.
This hike starts at the MST Wayside Totem on East Main Street located across from the Angry Troll brewery, restaurant and wedding/meeting venue in the renovated Liberty Tobacco Warehouse. Going west down Main Street one will see multiple local shops, restaurants, and rendezvous spots, as well as artistic murals on a number of buildings, including one on the side of Southern on Main and the MST Mural up one street on Market and Bridge. At this site note the historical Daniel Boone Arrowhead memorial marker.
Along Main Street note the Post Office with an inside stone “Elk” sculpture from the 1930s; and Maggy’s Place, a boutique lodging location that was the Elkin & Alleghany Railroad office in 1911.
From this point on in the walk note a series of historical, wildlife and native species tree markers spaced along the trail. See a trails kiosk on the corner by the library. Cross the bridge over Elkin Creek and turn right noting the historical Galway Memorial Church and Elkin’s Peace Park. Cross back over Elkin Creek and the trail continues through the Elkin Municipal Park onto the old bed of the Elkin and Alleghany Railroad.
Along the E&A Rail-Trail, as it is known, are several kiosks with information about the textile and other history of Elkin, as well as the old Shoe Factory Dam, which provided water power to several industrial facilities formerly located on Elkin Creek. Within the Elkin Municipal Park, you’ll find the E&A Rail-Trail Smokestack sculpture by John McComb. Walk upstream to the Shoe Factory Dam and find a viewing deck, rest stop and Hiker’s Peace Sculpture by Chaz Elstone.
Then follow the granite dust trail upstream past the entry on the right to a bike/hike/run trail. (This trail offers an additional 5 trail miles in the woods, by waterfalls, boardwalks, new and old bridges, streams, etc.). To follow the MST continue across a 140-ft bridge. Notice the explanation marker and 3 acre Jandy-Ammons Wildflower Meadow on the right.
Go on until you see, on the right side of the trail, a gong for visitors to ring. Give it a ring:). Then proceed through a deep railroad cut and cross the 178-ft reservoir bridge. Follow the trail until reaching another gong to ring, a picnic table, large railroad cut on the left and a stone privy on the right. At this point you have a choice to make:
- If you are an MST section or thru hiker continue on out the “temporary” MST on a crusher-run road, until joining Collins Road, a paved road, and out to the junction of Hwy 21 where you may have left a shuttle. This choice creates an about 6.6 mile hike round trip from the wayfarer totem and back.
- If you are just walking for the joy of the hike, we recommend that you turn left at the privy, walk through the RR cut (which will eventually be the official MST), cross the 75-ft Joe Hicks Bridge and walk a lovely wooded section on the Crooked Creek Trail loop and over the 40-ft Riley Lyles bridge to the main trail and back to town. This choice creates an about 5.5 mile round trip hike from the wayfarer totem and back.
- Take both hikes :)
We invite you to hike all 40 of the hikes in Great Day Hikes – take the 40 Hike Challenge! If you’ve hiked one of the 40 Hikes, share your story with us. Hashtag #MST40Hike or email with your tale.