We’re excited to announce a partnership with FIND Outdoors, a 48-year-old nonprofit based in Pisgah Forest, and works to inspire people to connect with nature through outdoor recreation sites, campgrounds, visitor centers, guided tours and educational workshops for all ages and abilities. FIND Outdoors also manages retail outlets that focus on trail maps, forest-related gifts and souvenirs, nature-based activities for children and local crafts.

The timing for the collaboration is perfect for the busy fall hiking and leaf peeping season. Initially, the partnership is focused at a great stop for hikers on the MST in Segment 5 – the Northwest Trading Post (NWTP) located in Ashe County at mile marker 259 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Trading Post will offer its visitors a chance to “round up” their purchases to the nearest dollar to provide donations to support the MST.  With fall being a very busy time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this could be a big fundraiser.  Driving the parkway is always great fun, but this year it is likely to be even more popular given that people are looking for outdoor recreation that is easily socially distanced.  Being the recipient of the Round-Up funding at the beloved NWTP is a wonderful way to raise additional funds for the MST and to introduce the trail to visitors who might not know about it.  The NWTP will also stock MST shirts, caps, stickers and mugs.

We are also partnering with FIND Outdoors to host a free, guided hike at 11 a.m. Sept. 19, that will shares a history of the MST and finishes with birthday cake. Jim Hallsey, who has been involved in planning, building and advocacy for the trail since its inception and is currently the task force leader for Ashe County, will lead the hike. Registration is required. Sorry, no pets are allowed. Space is very limited and social distancing measures will be observed. Go here to register or simply stop by the NWTP to register in person. Questions, call Adam DeWitte at (828) 883-3463, ext. 224 for more information.

Natalie Britt, president and CEO of FIND Outdoors, said, “It makes perfect sense for our two nonprofits to create this seamless partnership. Both organizations have a passion for bringing communities together through exceptional experiences. As a nonprofit, we completely believe in the benefit of supporting other nonprofits that are doing incredible work in equitable outdoor recreation. It’s what we do, and our staff could not be more proud to include Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail as a partner for the common good.”

FIND Outdoors, formally Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association, is located at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest.  We look forward to working together with FIND Outdoors this fall and in the future!