Tag Archives: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

After a dang cold week we’re heading into a darn nice weekend, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures, brace yourself, reaching 60.

So if you’ve been hibernating so far this winter, now’s your chance to emerge from your den for an adventure. An adventure such as: read more

GetOut! Your Nudge to Get Out and Explore this Weekend

A cool front moves in this weekend, a sign for you to get out and explore. Some thoughts on that front:

=&0=&, Friday thru Sunday, anywhere along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Help our favorite statewide hiking trail celebrate 41 years with a hike! Where? Well, anywhere on the trail. To help with that, we refer you to the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website, here.

=&1=&, Saturday & Sunday, Moratock Park, Danbury. How about a hike at nearby Hanging Rock and some live music? Or a paddle on the Dan River and some crafts? We’re all about mixing action with relaxation, which is what this weekend’s Stokes Stomp in Danbury is all about. Details here.

=&2=&, Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More mixing of pleasure with pleasure at this annual celebration of Elk Knob. Live music, games, nature activities, hikes, wagon rides, craft and cultural demonstrations, hands-on activities, history and food. Details here.

You can find more opportunities this Labor Day weekend here:

  • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
  • North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
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    Get Out! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

    Poison ivy: Leaves of three, let it be

    Last weekend, we explored the longest uninterrupted stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake in Raleigh: the 7 miles from NC 98 to Creedmoor Road. We were struck by how, seemingly overnight, the woods had gone from a hint of green to full-blown leaf-out. We caught glimpses of the lake; mostly, though, we were enveloped in green.

    That was Saturday. Sunday, we hiked a little farther west on the MST, along the Eno River from the Pump Station Access to Pleasant Green, about 5.5 miles. While the Eno coursing through its rocky valley wasn’t quite as shy as Falls Lake a day earlier, it was likewise subdued, swallowed in green.

    Prevalent in that green, fyi, was poison ivy: you can ID the culprit in the photo to the right. Steer clear: this ivy is irritating and itchy. On to this weekend.

    Every Friday, we give you a glimpse into our weekend past to give you a nudge to get out and explore the weekend future (this one). Our suggestions:

    Saturday, May 5, 8 a.m. Confluence Natural Area Grand Opening, Cedar Grove in Orange County. For a half century, the Eno River Association has been saving land along its namesake river (and tributaries). Most of that land has become Eno River State Park. Saturday, the association opens the 200-acre Confluence Natural Area where the east and west forks of the Eno converge. Festivities begin with a Pre-Celebration Bird Hike at 8 a.m., followed by guided hikes at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Live music and food as well. Learn more and sign up here.

    Saturday, May 5, 9 a.m. Vade Mecum Trails at Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury (north of the Triad). The first weekend of every month, Hanging Rock and the Friends of Sauartown Mountains open the trail network at the park’s Vade Mecum addition. The 716-acre former Camp Sertoma 4-H Educational Center, with miles of trail, was added to the park in 2014. Learn more and sign up here.

    Sunday, May 6, 9 a.m. Lake Norman State Park, Troutman (north of Charlotte). I Can Canoe, and So Can You. Paddling a canoe is one of those things that isn’t complicated, but can be a little intimidating the first time: the boat’s tippy, you aren’t sure which way to face, how does the paddle work? So many questions. And so many answers in this 1-hour ranger-led clinic. No experience necessary, all equipment provided. Learn more and sign up here.

    But wait, there’s more

  • Several hikes are on tap this weekend with Hike NC, the BlueCross Blue Shield of North Carolina hiking program. Check out those mostly beginner-oriented hikes at gohikenc.com.
  • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
  • Our GetHiking! program also has several hikes planned, including a return to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake on Saturday and a hike at Doughton Park Sunday. Learn more about those adventures and sign up here.
  • Intrigued by our adventures last weekend on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail? Plan your MST adventure starting here.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
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    Mountains-to-Sea Trail in a Day — and throughout the fall

    As we watched the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in a Day tally map go from red to green, as we read the comments from hikers sharing their experiences on Facebook and Instagram, and as we shared the day on the trail with more than 50 other hikers, a thought occurred:

    How awesome to have more than 1,700 hikers on the MST in just one day! How even more awesome to keep those 1,700 — and more — hiking the trail.

    MST in a Day was an effort three years in the making to get boots on all 1,175 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. To have at least one person hike down from Clingmans Dome on the western end of the trail, to have at least one person climb the highest dune at Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the eastern end. To have hikers on all the trail in between.

    A remarkable task — so remarkable that the American Hiking Society doesn’t think it’s been done before on any of the nation’s other long trails. Keeping those hikers from Saturday — and more hikers and hikers-to-be — hiking into fall and winter is worthy as well.

    We’re going to do our part to make that happen. For the remainder of the year, our GetHiking! program is going to keep the momentum going by offering one hike a week somewhere on the MST, starting this Saturday in Hillsborough.

    Why Hillsborough?

    Because of Ennis Baker.

    Upon completing his 3.3-mile hike on Saturday, Ennis wrote to the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail: “I have worked in Hillsborough for 18 years and did not know that the Riverwalk trail connected to the Nature Preserve and the speedway.” Ennis was referring to the MST’s piggybacking on the Riverwalk through downtown Hillsborough, which connects with the 1-mile oval walking path at the Historic Occoneechee Speedway, then continues on a delightful one-mile run through the James M. Johnston Nature Preserve, all along the Eno River. “We’ll be back!” he promised.

    And we’ll be there to help make that happen.

    This Saturday’s hike will be 5.5 miles, with a 3.75-mile option. Many of our hikes will be similarly appealing to beginning hikers. Some will embrace the long-distance nature of the MST, with mileages topping double digits. All will help expose you further to the trail many of you were introduced to this past Saturday.

    You can find details on this Saturday’s hike and sign up at our GetHiking! Triangle page, here. Look for future hikes there as well as at GetHiking! Triad, GetExploring! Greenville and GetHiking! Western North Carolina. We’ll also announce our MST hikes in our weekly enewsletter, which you can subscribe to by emailing joe@getgoingnc.com.

    Hope to see you in Hillsborough Saturday — and on down the Mountains-to-Sea Trail throughout the fall.

    Happy trails,

    Joe

    This weekend: MST in a Day 

    The MST is well-marked through Holly Shelter.

    We’ll ‘fess up up front: We’ve been working with the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to help them promote MST in a day, what the American Hiking Society believes would be the first time a long trail in the United States has had every inch hiked in a single day.

    That would be quite an achievement, and one we don’t want to leave to chance. As of Thursday afternoon, 245 legs of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail had multiple hikers signed up to hike. The remaining 55 each had one hiker, which is leaving the milestone to chance. So today, we’re going to identify the 55 legs with a lone hiker, give you a sense of what those legs are like, then let you know where you can sign up to give those legs some added support.

    =&0=&

    The legs:

    • Segment 12B/Agricultural Heartland – Legs 3, 9
    • Segment 13B/Carolina Bay Country – Legs 4, 7
    • Segment 14B/Land of History – Legs 2, 7, 8, 12, 14
    • Segment 15B/Onslow Bight and Jacksonville – Legs 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20
    • Segment 16B/The Croatan -Legs 7
    • Segment 17/The Neusiok and Cedar Island – Legs 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    • Segment 18/Outer Banks – Legs  10, 11

    The skinny: As you may know, not all of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is complete. Of the current 1,175-mile route, about 680 miles is actual trail or beach hiking; the remainder is temporarily routed on roads. The one-hiker legs at the coast fall largely into that category. So it’s a different type of hiking we’re talking here. More walking, really. If you go back far enough, think hitchhiking without the thumb.

    Which isn’t to say there isn’t a lot to see. Au contraire, from Civil War battlefields, to a former Rosenwald school, to museums that tell the story of the last two or three hundred years of living Down East, there is plenty to see. There are carrots on these hikes, carrots especially worth the hiking (or whatever) on a gorgeous late summer day (see forecast below).

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, with highs in the mid-70s.

    How and where to sign up: Go to MSTinaday.org, scroll down to the trail map divided into segments, click on your segment-of-interest. You’ll be whisked to the page for that segment, where you’ll find information on each leg: length, difficulty, surface type, start and end points. You’ll also find the Eastbound Trail Guide Miles: go to the online trail guide section, click on your segment, then find the ETGMs; there, you’ll get a more detailed sense of what the leg is like. Back to the MSTinaDay segment page, click on “Sign Up Now” and you’ll be taken to the Meetup registration site (it’s free and relatively hassle free).

    =&1=&

    The legs:

    • Segment 6: Elkin Valley – Legs 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
    • Segment 11A-16A: Neuse River Paddle Route – Legs 5, 8, 11-13, 16, 17

    The skinny: Segment 11A-16A is a paddle route on the Neuse River, from the Falls Lake dam in Raleigh to just below New Bern. The upper legs of the Neuse have a detectable current (even an easy rapid or two), things slow down as you reach the coastal plain. The legs here are long (most have double-digit mileages), remote, peaceful. If you’re looking to take advantage of Saturday’s fall-like weather (see “Saturday forescast” below), sign up!

    In the beautiful Elkin Valley, in an area bridging Stone Mountain State Park with its sister Pilot Mountain, these sections are also on country roads, but country roads that visit places such as Shorty’s Country Store and the Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery. And, Legs 8 and 9 visit Elkin, currently the premier trail town on the MST.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny with highs in the mid- to upper-70s.

    How and where to sign up: Go to MSTinaday.org, scroll down to the trail map divided into segments, click on your segment-of-interest. You’ll be whisked to the page for that segment, where you’ll find information on each leg: length, difficulty, surface type, start and end points. You’ll also find the Eastbound Trail Guide Miles: go to the online trail guide section, click on your segment, then find the ETGMs; there, you’ll get a more detailed sense of what the leg is like. Back to the MSTinaDay segment page, click on “Sign Up Now” and you’ll be taken to the Meetup registration site (it’s free and relatively hassle free).

    =&2=&

    The legs:

    • Segment 1A/Great Smoky Mountains – Legs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
    • Segment 1B/Tuckaseegee River Valley Route – Legs 2, 3,4, 5, 7

    The skinny: How are there neglected legs in the mountains? you ask, in the Smokies, no less? In the case of Section 1A, because of the lack of access, some of the legs are especially long: Leg 2 is 21.5 miles; Leg 3, 14.3 miles — and these are Smokies’ legs. And eight of the legs are on paved roads. But in the Smokies! And, again, on a day forecast to be more fall-like than summery (see Saturday forecast, below).

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, highs from the 50s to low 70s.

    How and where to sign up: Go to MSTinaday.org, scroll down to the trail map divided into segments, click on your segment-of-interest. You’ll be whisked to the page for that segment, where you’ll find information on each leg: length, difficulty, surface type, start and end points. You’ll also find the Eastbound Trail Guide Miles: go to the online trail guide section, click on your segment, then find the ETGMs; there, you’ll get a more detailed sense of what the leg is like. Back to the MSTinaDay segment page, click on “Sign Up Now” and you’ll be taken to the Meetup registration site (it’s free and relatively hassle free).

    * * *

    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 read more