MST Gathering of Friends

Save the Date!

Surf City and Pender County will host the Gathering of Friends
March 22-24, 2019

Yes! We’re still heading to Surf City for the 2019 Gathering of Friends.  We invite you to join us.
We’ve been a little bit quiet as we’ve waited to see how our hosts in Surf City, Pender County and the surrounding trail communities fared after Hurricanes Florence and Michael. Well, it’s been rough. Many residents have lost their homes, Surf City lost its Town Hall (but not the treasured MST hiking stick), schools and basic services were disrupted for weeks, and much of the trail itself was under water across the entire Coastal Crescent portion.
Surf City is an MST trail town, nested amongst our trail communities in Pender and Onslow Counties, and while everything may look a little different right now, the heart of these trail towns is still strong. With clouds from Florence literally on the horizon, the town of Burgaw in Pender County gathered over 100 students and citizens to sing Happy Birthday to the MST and hike their in-town bit of trail to kick off the Birthday Hike weekend. One of our task force leaders in Onslow County shared that his sawyer training with the Friends was incredibly helpful as he cleared limbs from his own property and that of his neighbors after Florence. This MST spirit is still here as these communities are transforming.
We’ve been assured that our presence in Surf City and Pender County will not hinder the recovery process, and that we are indeed very welcome. The timing of this Gathering also presents us with a very special opportunity – one of being purposeful partners in the rebuilding of our trail communities. While this Gathering will include plenty of fun, fellowship and catching up on the latest trail happenings, we’re also going to expand our focus to include time for service.
Our members, who are always eager to lend a hand, possess many unique skills and abilities as well as a passion for helping others. We are working with a slew of community partners to confirm meaningful opportunities to help in Surf City, Pender County and surrounding areas. Some of the already planned excursions will remain – hikes, workshops, reception at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center – but expect to see many new opportunities to build and rebuild trail at places like the Neusiok and Moores Creek Battlefield and to pitch in wherever we are needed to help the rest of the community get back on its feet. We hope you will fall in love with the area, and by giving your time and labor, we expect the connection will be even deeper.
You may also expect that many of the planned accommodations have been hit. You are correct. There will be plenty of rooms, though we will be spread across the island in a way that we didn’t anticipate at the outset. The silver lining is that our impact will be felt by many mom and pop hosts. Our Friday evening and Saturday events will be held at the Surf City Community Center, 201 Community Center Drive, Surf City, NC 28445, so you can judge distances to accommodations.
As of now, we’ve made arrangements with the following, while we wait for others to complete their rebuilding:  
Hotel/Motels:
The Breezeway Motel, 636 Channel Boulevard, Topsail Beach, NC 28445. 910-328-7751.
The hosts live on site and welcome us to their family-owned 47 room beach motel, situated right on the Intercoastal Waterway. The Breezeway is about 6 miles from the bridge crossing onto the island and features mostly double rooms, with a few king rooms. There is a dock out back with grills and picnic tables, and there is beach access right across from the motel. Each room has a mini-fridge, microwave and coffeemaker. 7 rooms are pet friendly. The rates for 2 people per room are $75 with all taxes and fees included, with each additional person $10, up to 4 per room. Pet fee is $50 per pet for the entire stay. Let them know you are with the MST Gathering.
The Jolly Roger Inn & Pier, 803 Ocean Blvd, Topsail Beach, NC 28445. 800-633-3196.
The Jolly Roger boasts oceanfront and westward facing rooms and efficiencies, plus the fishing pier! The grill should be open by March, so you could in theory wander down the pier, catch your breakfast and cook it yourself. They haven’t posted 2019 rates yet, but MST guests can expect an oceanfront double room to run about $89 plus tax and fees, efficiency $95, a westward facing double room $75 and efficiency $79. The Jolly Roger is about 6.5 miles from the bridge crossing. All rooms have mini-fridge, microwave and coffeemaker. Unfortunately, they are not pet friendly.
The Pink Palace (910-328-5114) and Main Street Inn (252-955-2227) are smaller inns with 5 and 4 rooms each. Both are lovely.
Campgrounds:
Lanier’s Campground, 1161 Spot Lane, Holly Ridge, NC 28445. 910-328-9431.
Lanier’s is walking distance to the Surf City Community Center and is one of the most scenic coastal campgrounds we’ve seen on the MST. It’s right on the waterway, offering both soundside and interior sites. Off-season rates per night for RV/Camper hook up with water, electric and sewer on the sound are $50, $45 on the interior; just water and electric are $45 on sound, $40 for interior. Tent camping on water is $40 per night, $35 on interior.
Blackbeard’s Treasure Family Campground, 610 Roland Avenue, Surf City, NC 28445. 910-328-1206.
Blackbeard’s won’t have their bathhouse open in March, so they will only take self-contained campers, NO TENT CAMPING. 30 amps is $40 a night, $50 amps is $45 per night. They only take cash and checks, no credit cards. They will open up reservations for 2019 on January 1. Blackbeards is right on the sound, across the bridge from the community center.
We are working on another low cost tent camping option along the MST.  Details to come.
Vacation Rentals – because of the wide variety of homes available, we don’t know rates. Please tell the agents that you are attending the MST Gathering of Friends, and ask for the best rate they can provide.
Starfish Rentals 910-541-0872 (offers a variety of sizes and dates and pet friendly)
Treasure Realty, 910-328-4444
Ward Realty, 910-328-3221
Island Real Estate by Cathy Medlin (many of you met Surf City Mayor Medlin and his wife Cathy in Elkin last year), 910-328-2323 or 800-622-6886
Century 21 Action, Inc., 910-328-2511 or 888-823-2553
Access Realty, 910-329-9800
As we continue to access the housing situation in Surf City, we will add additional options if necessary. Even during this time of recovery, the beach is a wonderfully rejuvenating place to be, and we encourage you to stick around as long as you can. Perhaps bring the family for the week leading up to the Gathering, contribute to the local economy, and enjoy the beauty of the area before we gather.
Watch for more details and registration information before the holidays. We all appreciate your patience this year.
Start exploring North Carolina – one step at a time.