We’re excited about all the ways you can celebrate the 45th birthday of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in September.  We plan yearly events to celebrate how far the trail has come since September 1977, when Howard Lee, then secretary of the NC Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, proposed “establishing a state trail between the mountains and the seashore in North Carolina.”

Detailed information and registration about all of the events can be found here.

To mark the exact date that the MST was proposed 45 years prior, Friends of the MST are hosting a celebration Zoom on Friday, September 9th, from 6:30 to 8 pm. Special speakers include Howard Lee, NC Director of State Parks Dwayne Patterson, filmmakers and podcasters Julie “Jester Gayheart” and Austin DuFresne, and other notables from the 45-year history of the MST. The Zoom is free and open to the public.

To encourage people to get out on the trail over the birthday weekend, several short-distance group hikes will be held around the state from Thursday, September 8 – Saturday, September 10th.  These include hikes in Surf City, Falls Lake, Burgaw, Asheville, Elkin, Hillsborough and Moores Creek National Battlefield. These, too, are free and open to the public.

Friends of the MST also invites people to complete the 45 Mile Challenge – hiking or walking 45 miles anywhere on the MST between September 1st and 30th. All who complete 45 miles will be entered to win prizes from Ripstop by the Roll, REI and other MST supporters.  The participant with the highest total mileage at the end of September will also receive a special prize of an MST flag.

To plan a walk on the MST, use Friends of the MST’s trail guides or Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail. All miles must be done by foot; paddling and biking miles are not eligible for this challenge. Additional hike planning resources can be found on the website.

In support of the 45th Birthday, Julie Gayheart and Austin DuFresne, both volunteers, have written and produced a mini-series documentary called “I Am the MST.” The five-part video and podcast series delves into the vision, foundation, partners and legacy of the trail. Information about release dates and how to listen and watch the series is available on the website.

In addition to the mini-series, “I Am the MST, The Foundation, featuring Beverly Scarlett” will be premiered in Hillsborough on Saturday, September 24th. After the screening, Judge Scarlett, Austin Dufresne and Julie Gayheart will lead a hike to several of the locations featured in the episode. This event is free and open to the public.

As part of a continuing commitment to making the MST a welcoming, diverse and inclusive place, Friends of the MST encourages all participants to invite friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors who have not been on the MST before to join at least one of their outings this month.

Friends of the MST is also encouraging people to make special donations to support the MST or consider fundraising on behalf of the trail. All those who give a gift of $45 or more during September will receive special MST buttons. People who raise $450 or more through peer-to-peer fundraising will receive a personalized pottery mug.