This weekend: Make it an MST in a Day warmup

On Sept. 9, 1977, Howard Lee, then secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, introduced the notion of a trail spanning the state. That notion has since evolved into the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, extending from Clingman’s Dome high in the Smokies on the Tennessee line, to Jockey’s Ridge, occupying a lower post at the coast.

On this Sept. 9, the Friends of the MST will celebrate the trail’s anniversary with MST in a Day, an attempt to have the entire trail hiked in one day. An attempt you should be involved in.

To get you in the mood for Sept. 9, we offer three opportunities to hike the MST. Do the hike, get in the mood, then head to the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website to see how you can be part of this 40th anniversary celebration.

Coast

Did you know that the eastern terminus of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a moving target? It ends atop the highest dune in Jockey’s Ridge State Park, a point that changes with the whim of the wind and can be hard to determine with the naked eye. Fortunately, park rangers do not have naked eyes.

Using their ranger vision, let a park ranger lead you to the true end of the MST Friday on MST Hike celebrating the trail’s 40th anniversary. It won’t be a long hike, but it will be a great photo op: who doesn’t want their social media lit with selfies from the MST’s eastern extent?

Logistics: MST Hike, Friday, Aug. 4, 9 a.m., Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Morning high in the mid-70s, chance of thunderstorms.

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Looking ahead: Love the idea of standing atop the highest dune in Jockey’s Ridge? Imagine standing there at dusk: check out this schedule of regular Sunset on the Ridge hikes at the park.

Piedmont

Officially, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail leaves the mountains at the Devil’s Garden Overlook, where it spills down the Blue Ridge Escarpment to Stone Mountain State Park. It revisits mountainous terrain at Pilot Mountain State Park and again, about 20 miles later, at Hanging Rock State Park. Most people think that’s where any MST semblance to the mountains ends.

Until they reach Eno River State Park.

You won’t find the elevation of Appalachians in the park outside Durham, but you will find a rocky stream that makes you certain you’ve been teleported to higher terrain. Learn more about those rocks Saturday when a ranger leads River’s Rock, a look into how the Eno got so rocky.

Logistics: River’s Rock, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2:30 p.m., Eno River State Park/Fews Ford Access, Durham. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny with a high of 88.

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Looking ahead: Ghosts of the Eno, Aug. 8, Eno River State Park, Durham. More info here.

Mountains

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail crosses not only the highest spot in the state, not only the highest spot in the East, but the highest spot east of South Dakota’s Black Hills! It’s wild territory atop 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell. With forests of red spruce and Fraser fir, the flora is much different than you’ll find just 1,000 feet below. Different, too, is the wildlife.

Learn what lives atop the highest point on the trail Saturday at Wildlife at the Highest Peak, a ranger-led program that begins from the Upper Summit Parking Lot, at 11 a.m. Allow time for a little MST hike, too.

Logistics: Wildlife at the Highest Peak, Saturday, Aug. 5, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 60, sunny.

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Looking ahead: Guided Commissary Trail Hike, August 11, 3 p.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar

Piedmont

Charlotte

Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triad

GoTriad.com
Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triangle

Triangle.com
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Statewide

Great Outdoor Provision Co. 
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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