The Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a simple footpath stretching almost 1,200 miles across North Carolina from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.

More than just a walk in the woods, the trail traces the diversity that is North Carolina. Experience ancient mountains and small Piedmont farms, coastal swamps and colonial towns, changing textile villages and barrier islands. Almost 725 miles of footpath are now completed. With temporary routes on backroads and bicycle paths, hikers can now follow the trail on an adventure across North Carolina.

Like the best gifts passed from one generation to the next, the trail is being made by hand. Each year, volunteers devote thousands of hours to planning and blazing the trail across the state step-by-step, milestone-by-milestone. You can help in creating this state treasure. Learn how you can become part of this trail blazing effort as a member of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and as a volunteer.

View the Interactive Google Map
Explore the Trail Segments
Download Trail Guides


  • Was proposed in 1977 and added to the state park system in 2000
  • The MST is North Carolina’s state trail and longest marked footpath
  • Takes approximately 2,112,000 footsteps to complete
  • Climbs both the tallest mountain peak and the highest sand dune in the Eastern United States
  • Highest elevation: 6,684 feet — on Mt. Mitchell
  • Lowest elevation: sea level — Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Passes through 37 counties
  • Passes through four national parks and two national wildlife refuges
  • Connects to ten state parks
  • Meanders through three national forests
  • Passes three lighthouses, including the nation’s tallest
  • Includes two ferry rides
  • 1,100+ volunteers worked more than 44,000 hours to build and maintain the trail in 2022
  • The Mountains-to-Sea Trail showcases the diversity of North Carolina’s natural beauty from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean