Cedric Kopa, first Black completer of the MST in 2020, with Howard Lee, who in 1977 as secretary of what is now the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, first proposed the MST. Photo by Jerry Barker.
MST for All
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is North Carolina’s longest footpath, winding its way across the state as it connects communities and people.
For some of us, the trail is part of who we are, a place we keep our minds and bodies fit, connect with nature, and learn about who and where we are. For others, trails and the outdoors aren’t part of their lives.
As the organization that supports the MST, we want to make sure that all North Carolinians and visitors know about the trail, know how to access it, feel comfortable while on it and have the opportunity to learn about the lands and people who live or have lived along the route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Our state is diverse, both in topography and the people who call it home, and the trail community should reflect that diversity.
Working together, we can invite and inspire those who may have fear in the outdoors, not yet felt welcome on the trail and don’t yet have the information to find and walk the MST.
Recently, Friends of the MST created and began work on a Priority Action Plan. Many of our initial priorities revolve around making the trail and our community an inclusive place. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Community is stronger when it is diverse and inclusive.
Lenovo Work for Humankind
In the spring of 2023, we partnered with Lenovo and its global Work for Humankind initiative on a local level with a goal of raising awareness about the need for diversity in conservation. Volunteers from Elizabeth City State – a historically Black university – toured the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in a van while being equipped with Lenovo’s cutting-edge technology. The students engaged with culturally diverse sites and worked to make them accessible to all outdoor enthusiasts.
Check out the work in segments 1, 14 and 15, with other project areas across the MST coming soon:
Here’s what else we’ve been up to lately.
Check out a map below highlighting some of the history of underrepresented communities and stories along the trail. This map is not meant to be an exhaustive account of the entire history along the MST and will be evolving and changing as we learn more about the history of the land and people along the trail. If you know of a location, historical event or other important part of our state’s history that could be featured, please fill out this short form and let us know.
Want to get involved?
If you’d like to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you with other volunteers. If joining a committee isn’t for you, think about how you can help in your own way. It can be an invitation, asking someone to join you. It can be listening to why someone says no, and understanding why, and respectfully offering information to help.
Check out some groups actively working to inspire more diversity in the outdoors. (Please note: this is not meant to be a comprehensive list and if you know of other groups please let us know)
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail respectfully acknowledges that the trail traverses traditional and ancestral homelands of indigenous peoples whom we honor as the original stewards of the land.
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail strives to provide equal opportunities to all trail users, and does not tolerate discrimination against any trail user or member of the trail community based on race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or identity, or status as a special disabled veteran or veteran.
Policies and practices of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will reflect our commitment to promote access and inclusiveness, and to discourage discrimination that denies the essential humanity of all people.