By Carolyn Sakowski and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
This section, covering almost 91 miles, offers the hiker some of the most astounding scenery in northwestern North Carolina. This part of the trail, which travels along the ridgeline where elevations range from 4,300 to 3,400 feet, offers views looking down the escarpment into the North Carolina Piedmont.
Most of this section runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and often crosses the parkway as the trail goes back into the woods and away from the road. There are a few stretches that cross fields, which will sometimes share space with friendly cows. There are also a few patches where the trail travels along a backroad or the shoulder of the BRP, but most of this segment is on well-engineered footpaths that make the ascents and descents easy to hike. Although the BRP is always nearby, you often feel that you are deep in the woods, miles from civilization.
This section begins at Beacon Heights and follows the Tanawha Trail as it travels along the base of Grandfather Mountain, which is one of only 553 certified biosphere reserves in the world. It continues past the resort town of Blowing Rock, travels near West Jefferson, and ends near Sparta in the northwest corner of North Carolina near the Virginia border.
The nearby towns of Linville, Blowing Rock, Boone, West Jefferson, and Sparta offer all amenities. They also make it easy to break this segment into several day hikes.
This section of the MST can be enjoyed as a series of day hikes. Each link below provides the information you need to hike a sub-section of the trail.