Summer on the MST: Doughton Park Weekend Hiking Escape


Spend the summer exploring North Carolina’s statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail with our Summer on the MST Weekend Escape Series, first stop: an 18-mile run of the trail at Doughton Park. We’ll basecamp in the park, and hike from the South Laurel Fork trailhead north to Devil’s Garden Overlook.

June 10-12

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Welcome to the first of three 2022 Summer on the MST Weekend Escapes, 18 miles of hiking on the MST from basecamp at Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Hikes

Friday evening

Where: From our basecamp in the Doughton Park Campground we’ll hike a mile and a half to the Wildcat Rocks Overlook and enjoy the end of day at this perch atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Distance: 3 miles (out and back)

Difficulty: Easy

Highlights: Wildcat Rocks towers above one of the steepest drops atop the escarpment, looking almost directly down on the Caudil Cabin nearly 1,500 vertical feet below, and the valley floor another 1,000 feet below that.


Where: South Laurel Fork Road to Doughton Park Campground (MST Segment 5 Day Hikes 12 and 13

Distance: 10.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous

Highlights: South Laurel Creek, mature Southern Appalachian woods, high mountain meadows with endless views


Where: Devil’s Garden Overlook to campground (MST Segment 5 Day Hike 14)

Distance: 5.6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Devil’s Garden Overlook looking down to the Piedmont more than 1,000 vertical feet below, view west from Air Bellows Gap, Brinegar Cabin, robust hemlock forest

What the trip includes:

  • Meals: 5 meals: lunches Saturday and Sunday, breakfast Saturday and Sunday, dinner Saturday night
  • Trail snacks
  • Camping
  • eguide for the hike, including custom maps and route descriptions for all hikes
  • the hikes: 19 miles on the MST in three days



  • 4 p.m. Check-in
  • 6 p.m. Hike to Wildcat Rocks Overlook
  • 8:30 p.m. Back to camp (sunset is at 8:43 p.m.)


  • 7:30 a.m. Breakfast
  • 8 a.m. Prepare lunch
  • 9 a.m. Car shuttle on Blue Ridge Parkway to South Laurel Creek Road Trailhead
  • noonish Lunch
  • 4 p.m. Back to camp
  • 6 p.m. Dinner


  • 7:30 a.m. Breakfast
  • 8 a.m. Lunch prep
  • 9 a.m. Car shuttle on Blue Ridge Parkway to Devil’s Garden Overlook
  • Noonish Lunch
  • 1 p.m. Back to camp
  • This trip also includes a Zoom planning meeting on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m.

Not a camper but still want to hike? Sparta, NC, is a 20-minute drive. Find lodging options here.

Additional hikes in the series

Also in our GetHiking! Summer on the MST Weekend Escape series:

Mount Pisgah, July 22-24. 22.5 miles of hiking, from Graveyard Fields east to Big Ridge Overlook

Julian Price Park, September 9-11. 20 miles of hiking, from Beacon Heights to Moses Cone Park


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