Mountains-to-Sea Trail 40th Anniversary

Beacon Heights | Photo © David Pozo

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is celebrating 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 is organizing a series of events to celebrate the accomplishments of the first 40 years and build for the future. Mark your calendars now!

Friday, March 24 to Sunday, March 26 – Elkin

40th Anniversary Gathering of Friends

40th Anniversary celebrations kick-off with an expanded annual meeting in Elkin, a friendly town between Stone and Pilot Mountain state parks that has enthusiastically embraced the MST. The weekend will begin with a “Hiking Boot” Gala – an evening of fellowship and recognition of the accomplishments of the first 40 years. On Saturday, the annual membership meeting will focus on where the trail is headed and goals for the next 40 years. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who will hike the MST in 2017, will be the keynote speaker. Throughout the weekend – from Friday through Sunday – the Elkin Valley Trail Association is organizing a program of great excursions – from hikes, paddles, and bike rides to winery and brewery tours, yoga and trail-themed worship – to help attendees explore the MST and other attractions in the area.

MST 40th Anniversary Hiking Boot Gala

The weekend will officially begin Friday evening with a Hiking Boot Gala – an evening of fellowship and recognition of the accomplishments of the first 40 years.

40th Anniversary Annual Meeting

On Saturday, the annual membership meeting will focus on where the trail is headed and goals for the next 40 years. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who will hike the MST in 2017, will be the keynote speaker.

40th Anniversary Trail & Town Excursions

Throughout the weekend – from Friday through mid-day Sunday – the Elkin Valley Trail Association is organizing a program of great Trail & Town Excursions – from hikes to mountain biking, from winery tours to paddling on the Yadkin – to help attendees explore the great MST sections in the area. Many of these will start mid-day on Friday, so plan to head up early to explore the area. Registration for these events is now open.

> View and register for Trail & Town Excursions

Registration is open for the Gathering of Friends, so make your lodging and campsite reservations now to avoid sell-outs. If you are interested in sharing a room, cabin, or tent, please download and email this form to Danny Bernstein (her e-mail address is on the form), and she will work to connect you with other compatible members.  PLEASE NOTE: OUR HOLD ON ALL THE CABINS EXPIRED DECEMBER 31ST, 2016. HOWEVER, THEY WILL HONOR OUR RATES AND RESERVATIONS AFTER THAT DATE IF THEY ARE AVAILABLE.  BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.

FAIRFIELD INN AND SUITES: The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Elkin is the host hotel for the Gathering of Friends. Please call the hotel directly at 336-353-2008 to book a room at the reduced rate of $89 per night, plus taxes and fees. Use the code “MST Annual Meeting” when making reservation. Rooms should be booked by February 25th to ensure this rate. This does include a continental breakfast. 628 CC Camp Road /268 Bypass, Elkin, NC 28621.

HAMPTON INN AT SHELTON VINEYARDS: The Hampton Inn is 4.5 miles away from The Liberty, and is offering Friends a reduced rate of $119 per night, plus taxes and fees.  Call the hotel directly at 336-353-9400 to book – do not book online or you won’t get the rate. Use the code “MST Annual Meeting” when making your reservation.  To ensure your room, please book by March 1st.  150 Charlestown Drive, Dobson, NC 27017.

BYRD’S BRANCH CAMPGROUND: Byrd’s Branch Campground and Country Store is owned and operated by MST members’ Sarah and Jerry Byrd. They have tent sites,showers and water, electric and sewer hookup sites. To reserve a site, call 336-526-1146 (Store) or 336-366-0603 (Jerry) or 336-366-9955 (Sarah). Please leave message and they will return your call. 225 Martin Byrd Road, Elkin, NC 28621.

ROCKY RIDGE FAMILY CAMPGROUND: Rocky Ridge is located in Thurmond, between Elkin and Roaring Gap. Call 336-366-7396 to make reservation. 370 White Rock Road, Thurmond, NC 28683.

ELKIN CREEK VINEYARD AND CABINS: Elkin Creek, about a 10 minute drive from downtown, offers 4 new cabins that can sleep up to 4 people each. Rate is $149 per night for weekend night. Call 336-526-5119 to make reservation by December 31st, 2016. 318 Elkin Creek Mill Road, Elkin, NC 28621.

FROG HOLLER CABINS: Frog Hollow has 5 one-bedroom cabins that sleep up to 4 people and is also about 10 minutes from downtown Elkin. Rate is $135 per night, plus tax. Reserve by December 31st, 2016. Call 336-526-2661. 564 E. Walker Road, Elkin, NC 28621.

GRASSY CREEK VINEYARD/KLONDIKE CABINS: Located in State Road, Klondike Cabins are about 12 minutes from downtown Elkin. The main cabin has four bedrooms, and two neighboring cabins have two bedrooms each. Call 336-366-9210 to make reservations by December 31st, 2016. 235 Chatham Cottage Circle, State Road, NC 28676.

THE ROCKFORD INN: The Rockford Inn is approximately 16 miles from The Liberty, and offers a beautiful bed and breakfast experience.  The innkeepers are big supporters of the MST.  Please call 800-561-5662 to make a reservation.  4872 Rockford Road, Dobson, NC 27107.

Thanks to Farm to Feet socks, our title sponsor, for their support and the town of Elkin and the Elkin Valley Trails Association for their grand welcome. To check out more about the area, go to whatsupinelkinnc.com and visittheyadkinvalley.com.

Register Now!

Thursday, May 4 to Friday, May 5 – Elkin

40th Anniversary Communities Conference

The 2nd biennial conference will provide 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.  Please contact Kate Dixon, kdixon@mountainstoseatrail.org or 919-825-0297, ext. 701, if you are interested in learning more.

August to November – North Carolina wide

MST 40th Anniversary Jennifer Pharr Davis Hikes the MST

National Geographic Adventurer Jennifer Pharr Davis will hike the entire MST starting in August. She will spend 3 to 4 months on the trail, and along the way MST Friends will have an opportunity to meet her at special events and hikes. She will also be sharing her experiences along the route through traditional and social media.

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. Registration to participate by walking one or more “legs” of the trail will open at the Gathering of Friends on March 24-26. Most legs will be three to five miles, but some will be longer because of the distance between trailheads.