Mountains-to-Sea Trail 40th Anniversary

Beacon Heights | Photo © David Pozo

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail celebrated 40 years in 2017!

On September 9, 1977, Howard Lee, then the North Carolina Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development, made an audacious speech which has fired the imaginations and energy of trail enthusiasts ever since. In that speech, Lee recommended that North Carolina build a “state trail from the mountains to the coast, a trail leading through communities as well as natural areas.”

Now almost forty years later, that trail has become a reality.  Nearly 700 miles of trail have been built and people follow the MST across North Carolina, using back road connections where trail has not yet been built. Every year new trail opens, and more and more people enjoy the trail for day hikes with their families, overnight backpack trips with friends, and even cross-state treks which become adventures of a lifetime.

Friends of the MST organized a series of events to celebrate the accomplishments of the first 40 years and build for the future.

Saturday, September 9 – North Carolina wide

40th Anniversary MST In A Day

Forty years to the day that Howard Lee gave his original speech, hundreds of trail enthusiasts will each walk or paddle a portion of the trail so that, through their collective efforts, 100% of the trail will be covered in a single day. Most legs are three to five miles, but some are longer because of the distance between trailheads.

August to November – North Carolina wide

MST 40th Anniversary Jennifer Pharr Davis Hikes the MST

National Geographic Adventurer Jennifer Pharr Davis started her MST hike on August 15. All along the way MST Friends had the opportunity to meet her at special events and hikes and read about her adventures on blogs and social media.

Friday, March 24 to Sunday, March 26 – Elkin

40th Anniversary Gathering of Friends

Thanks to the 350 MST Friends who gathered in Elkin on March 24-26 to kick off celebrations of the trail’s 40th Anniversary.  It was a weekend of song, history, big visions, and inspiration enjoyed by everyone from MST founders to new friends. Elkin pulled out all the stops to welcome MST friends with a full schedule of hikes, paddles, art, Revolutionary War reenactments and more. Farm to Feet, the title sponsor of the event, even gave all attendees a free pair of MST socks! Click here for photos and videos from the event.

Thursday, May 4 to Friday, May 5 – Elkin

40th Anniversary Communities Conference

The 2nd biennial conference provided an opportunity for elected officials, government staff, and tourism leaders of communities along the MST to learn how they can make the trail a success in their area.  All the conference presentations – by experts in a diversity of fields – are available in our dropbox folder.