MST Gathering of Friends at Lake Junaluska

April 7-10, 2022

Lake Junaluska, Waynesville & Surrounding Areas

We’ll be celebrating the MST’s 45th anniversary at our Gathering of Friends, April 7-10, 2022 at Lake Junaluska, the community where the trail was first proposed in 1977. Events start with a full day of trail building workshops on Thursday, followed by hikes, excursions, meetings and celebrations Friday through Sunday.

We are eagerly counting the days until we gather the MST community in person again at Lake Junaluska. In this era of continued uncertainty, our responsibility is to provide a safe gathering space, indoors and out. Please read and commit to the Covid Protocols below as you make your plans to attend. We are watching Covid trends and plan to review the protocols 2 weeks prior to the Gathering.

Hikes, excursions and trail workdays will spread across Haywood and Buncombe counties and even onto the Cherokee Reservation. We’re thrilled to work with Carolina Mountain Club, VisitSmokies, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee and others to make this a special Gathering. This is our annual member meeting, when Friends of the MST’s membership gathers together to learn about the trail, spend time with each other, and celebrate our very special trail community. While this is a membership-based event, all with an interest in the MST are welcome to join and attend.

Make your reservations now to stay at Lake Junaluska Conference Center. Many of the accommodations are filling up, and if you have any trouble with the online system, call the Center directly. 

Download the full schedule here. 

Watch Dr. Doris Hammett share about her involvement in the 1977 Trails Symposium in Lake Junaluska. Ken Howle, executive director of Lake Junaluska, welcomes Friends back and Ben Wilder with VisitNCSmokies shares about the area. Introduction by Betsy Brown, Friends’ Outreach Manager.


Registration for the Gathering of Friends—including the welcome reception on Friday, the Annual Meeting on Saturday (plus breakfast and lunch that day)—is $80. You may register for each event individually, at a rate of $40 for the Friday Reception and all the excursions that don’t require an additional fee, or $50 for the Saturday Annual Meeting and all the excursions that don’t require an additional fee. Up to 3 additional guests may attend for $70 each for the entire event (with options of only attending one or the other event as well.)  The Gathering is our yearly membership event. We welcome anyone to attend, and if you are not yet a member of Friends, you’ll see non-member pricing that includes a yearly membership.

FYI: Lake Junaluska has a generous cancellation policy for accommodation reservations (full refund 15 days in advance, less $15 fee; loss of deposit only if cancelled within 15 days of reservation.) We will offer registration fee refunds up to 72 hours prior to the event (less a $15 processing charge to cover our administrative costs.)

Registration is NOW OPEN for the Gathering. Once you have registered, you will receive a link to register for excursions in your confirmation email.  If you don’t receive that within 10 minutes, check your spam folder. Still not there, send us an email at and we’ll get the link to you.


Sponsorships are available for the Gathering. This event is possible because of the strong support of our partners.

Overview of the Gathering

  • Thursday, April 7th

    Trail building workshops hosted by Carolina Mountain Club on the MST near Lake Junaluska – Beginner through expert level trail workers are welcome; Guided hikes in the afternoon; Dinner, drinks and music by Sugah and thuh Cubes (featuring Friends’ board member Mike Parker) at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville

  • Friday, April 8th

    Dozens of hikes and excursions throughout the area starting at 7:30am and continuing through the day; Opening night reception and dinner (sponsored by Visit NC Smokies) at Lake Junaluska featuring Reid Wilson, secretary of NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, a roundtable moderated by podcaster Julie “Jester” Gayheart with Director of State Parks Dwayne Patterson, Superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway Tracy Swartout, forest supervisor for the National Forests in NC James Melonas and others! We’ll hear from Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, Richard Sneed, and learn from the Warriors of AniKituhwa, cultural ambassadors also from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, who will share their culture, history and arts through dance and performances. Thanks to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee for supporting this event!

  • Saturday, April 9th

    Group breakfast and annual meeting for Friends of the MST; Group walk around Lake Junaluska after meeting (sponsored by Mast General Store); Late afternoon and evening stroll through downtown Waynesville, followed by a concert featuring the music of western NC and the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) on guitars, fiddles and banjos; local award-winning singer songwriter, Richard Hurley, who will provide ballads, original songs andan education about local music; and Whitewater Bluegrass Company performing some of the finest string music you will ever hear!

  • Sunday, April 10th

    Guided hikes and excursions

Visit NC Smokies
Mast General Store
Duke Energy
Meeting Contact
Mountain Running
Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
Boojum Brewing
Boojum Brewing
Mountain Running


We’ve locked in special rates and you can nowbook accommodations. Lake Junaluska, a beautiful, historic retreat center near Waynesville, will be such a special place to celebrate the MST’s 45th anniversary.

We’ve set up a special website for reservations with multiple photos of each type of lodging. Just click on “enlarge photo” to see the extra images. The special rates are available for Tuesday, April 5 through Monday, April 11 if you’d like to stay a few days before or after the event to really get to know this area of the state. This map shows the entire property. When we’re not hiking or exploring, our events will be held in Shackford Hall, the historic location that also housed the 1977 Trails Symposium.

If you cannot find the room type you prefer in the online platform, call the reservation center directly. NOTE: Lambeth Inn and the Terrace are nearly full. Mountain View, Hillside Lodge, and the apartments still have plenty of availability. These are even closer to the main meeting site, so very convenient choices! The campground still has space too. 

Please note that multiple 30 and 50-amp RV and tent campsites are available, and for right now can only be reserved by phone (800-222-4930). The staff at Lake Junaluska has asked for patience, as they are short-staffed like many other businesses right now. If you leave a message, they will return your call. Make sure to mention that you are with the Gathering of Friends.

Although other lodging options are available in the area, we encourage you to stay at Lake Junaluska with others attending the Gathering. These Gatherings are such a fun way to meet other MST enthusiasts, and the more guest rooms our group reserves, the less our rental fees are for the meeting spaces.


Covid Protocol

The staff and Board of the Friends of the MST have determined that all Gathering attendees must be vaccinated, and if eligible, up-to-date with currently available boosters. By arriving at the Gathering up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccinations, you are protecting the MST community, the staff at Lake Junaluska and neighbors in the surrounding communities. Vaccinations and boosters should be completed before March 24th to accommodate the 2-week post-vaccination waiting period. Vaccination cards or a digital copy should be brought to the Gathering. Some excursion locations may require these to be presented too.

We also ask that you don’t attend if you are sick. Lake Junaluska has a generous cancellation policy for accommodation reservations (full refund 15 days in advance, less $15 fee; loss of deposit only if cancelled within 15 days of reservation.) We will offer registration fee refunds up to 72 hours prior to the event (less a $15 processing charge to cover our administrative costs.)

During all indoor events outside of individual guest rooms, properly fitting masks are required to be worn, covering both nose and mouth. If you carpool with people outside of your household, please wear a mask. We will provide hand sanitizer stations on-site for frequent use and encourage you to bring your own stash to use when you are out and about.

And please use common sense about other people’s comfort. Respect others and their social distancing needs. We are a courteous and respectful crew, and we know you will treat each other with kindness and understanding, even from six feet away!

Lastly, the situation remains fluid. We can’t anticipate the future and our desire for a normal Gathering won’t override the wellbeing of the group. If there are changes to be made, we will communicate them as soon as we can. We plan to revisit these requirements two weeks out from the Gathering.

Thank you for understanding the precarious nature of planning an event in the time of Covid. Reach out to Betsy Brown if you have any comments or questions about attending.