Mountain to Sea Trail birthday hike

RALEIGH — Friends of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is inviting hikers of all skill levels to help celebrate the trail’s 42nd birthday from September 6 to 8 by joining one of 33 group hikes in 27 trail towns across the state, including Elkin.

From Cherokee to Nags Head there will be hikes from one to 12 miles, through all types of landscape, from easy to strenuous.

“This will be a great opportunity to explore North Carolina’s natural beauty with the help of hike leaders who have extensive local knowledge of the trail and area attractions,” said Betsy Brown, Outreach Manager for the Friends of the MST.

The Elkin hike will start at the Grassy Creek Vineyard tasting room in State Road, according to Brown. Hikers will travel through a wooded spur trail for approximately a half mile from the vineyard to the MST. Hikers will soon travel through an enchanted forest area and into the Byrd Branch Campground area. From there, hikers will travel on the trail to Carter Falls. After enjoying time at Carter Falls, hikers will return to the vineyard where they can enjoy a glass of wine at the tasting room.

Sparta and King are also hosting hikes nearby.

There will also be a 42-Mile Challenge, starting near Blowing Rock, to raise funds for the Friends of MST as well as a Hike on Your Own option. Detailed information about all the hikes can be found at https://mountainstoseatrail.org/birthdayhike/

The MST Birthday Hike is not only an opportunity for hikers to learn about the MST — it is also a time for them to get to know trail communities across the state. Hikers can stick to their closest trail town, or they can travel to another area of North Carolina they wish to explore. Many towns will provide information about local events, restaurants and attractions in the trail towns and hikers can become better acquainted with the areas.

Chuck Millsaps, president of the Great Outdoor Provision Co., which is the exclusive sponsor of the MST Birthday Hike, said, “We are thrilled to see so many communities hosting hikes across the state as we celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s such fun to send folks out on the trail and then hear their hike stories the next time they stop by.” GOPC is a North Carolina based outdoor equipment and clothing retailer, with nine stores across the area.

For those looking to push their mileage while raising funds to support the Friends’ work on the MST, consider the 42-Mile Challenge. Hikers will tackle 42 miles on the trail near Blowing Rock, while raising $10 for every mile hiked. This hike will be led by GetGoingNC’s Joe Miller. Hikers are also encouraged to hike anywhere, anytime over the weekend on their own, and share their stories.

Registration for this event is open, and accessible through the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website (https://mountainstoseatrail.org/birthdayhike/). Depending on the hike, there is a limit to the number of people who can register, anywhere from fifteen to a hundred. Hikes are free, though Friends encourages donations to support their continuing work on the MST. A special 42nd MST Birthday Hike t-shirt is also available.

This will be the third year of celebrating the birth of the MST, founded forty-two years ago. In 2017, hikers across the state walked different legs of the 1175-mile trail, successfully hiking the entire trail in a day. The second year, solo hikers and groups were encouraged to hike any area of the trail they wished and report their journey back to Friends of MST.

Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together communities and volunteers to build, protect and promote the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which connects North Carolina’s natural treasures and communities. The trail itself is 1175 miles, and spans from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.

For registration and details for the Elkin hike: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=54ke8qcab&oeidk=a07eggj5t6x2b2bd376 For the event website: https://mountainstoseatrail.org/birthdayhike/

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