Appropriately, a podcast focused on the Southeast begins with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
About 15 years ago I was in Colorado backpacking with a friend when I mentioned I was writing a book, “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina.” The Denver resident scrunched his face: “You’ve got a hundred trails in North Carolina?” he asked. He was genuinely surprised.
Patiently, I hope, I explained that in the latest edition of Alan de Hart’s “Hiking Trails of North Carolina,” there were more than 1,300 trails, that the state had two national forests with more than a half million acres each (not to mention two smaller national forests with their own trail networks). I told him the Blue Ridge Parkway wasn’t just about driving, but included more than 100 hiking trails in North Carolina and Virginia. I reminded him of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which we share with Tennessee, and which has more than 900 miles of trail.
And I mentioned there was also a trail making its way across the entire state, from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast.
So yes, there are more than 100 trails in the state. And when I got the idea to start a podcast telling the stories of these great trails — GetHiking! Southeast, which debuted Dec. 29 — there was no doubt which trail I would start with — the trail that runs 1,175 miles across the length of North Carolina.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
One of the things I love most about the MST is that while it is a long trail, it’s easily accessible in smaller — 2- to 5-mile — bites. The trail was designed that way, with frequent points of access, and the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail has done a remarkable job of making sure hikers know how to use the trail through its:
- Detailed online guides, broken down into the trail’s 18 segments and including all the information a hiker needs, from how to find the trailheads to how to follow the trail
- Print versions of the online guides, for the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plain & Outer Banks sections
- “Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail,” published earlier this year by UNC Press.
- Updates on changes to the trail
In our debut episode, Jim Grode, Trail Resource Manager for the MST, explains how to use this bevy of resources to help find the stretches of trail that best meet your hiking needs. The podcast is tied to the absence of First Day Hikes this year due to COVID-19, but the information Jim shares is invaluable in helping you plan a hike whenever. (He offers some especially helpful tips on how to spot stretches of the trail that may not be as heavily hiked as others. You can also find a bulleted version of Jim’s advice on the GetGoingnc.com blog.)
Find my conversation with Jim here. And I invite you to come back each week to the GetHiking! Southeast Podcast, where we’ll tell the stories of other trails in the region, but we’ll continue to follow the evolving story of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Joe Miller is an author, blogger, hike leader, and podcaster. You can find more about him and the services he offers HERE.