Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Around the Greensboro Watershed

Starting with 564.5 miles, 86,900 ft. ascent


Lake Brand Greenway to Peninsula Trail
12.1 miles, 900 ft.

I’m starting a seven-day stretch on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the longest piece that I’ve done on this trail in one shot. I stress “on this trail” since I’ve backpacked two to three week sections on the Appalachian Trail.

Though Sharon had decided to bike all the sections she can, she has to walk this piece around the Greensboro Watershed.

We meet at the beginning of the Lake Brandt Greenway in the Greensboro Watershed. Lake Brandt is an 816-acre municipal reservoir. The lake was originally built in 1925 and raised to its present level in 1958. It’s part of a huge system of artificial lakes, paved and dirt trails just north of Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.

The paved part doesn’t last long. Soon we’re walking Owl’s Roost Trail which hugs Lake Brandt. But it seems to go on forever and I feel that we’re going in a circle. We pass a side trail to a fire road three times. Are we going round and round? Why are we walking so slowly in this easy almost flat section?

“We’re doing two miles an hour and that’s OK,” Sharon says. She figures out that we should indeed cross a fire road three times but I’m uncomfortable. The Lake is always on our left, which it should be. Finally we stop a runner who tells us that we are going the right way.

We finally get off Owl’s Roost Trail unto an old paved railroad grade trail, the old Atlantic and Yadkin Railway. This line went to Wilmington on the coast to Mt. Airy, going through Greensboro. It was completed in 1887 and the last run lasted until 1974.

MST21A-Dasanipicnictable A modern bright blue picnic table was put up by Dasani, owned by the Coca-Cola Company. Plenty of walker and runners on this piece of trail.

We turn left on Nat Greene Trail and now we know exactly where we are. The trail was named for Nathanael Greene who commanded the Continental Army’s Southern Department and fought against Lord Cornwallis at Guildford Courthouse. The trail sign misspelled Greene’s first name – you would have thought they could have looked it up or checked with the military park.MST21A-misspelledname

We reach the Marina, cross the road and turn on Laurel Bluff Trail. It’s a slow start because a trail post is down but we finally figure out that we have to turn right around a building. This area has not been cleaned up of artifacts and junk.

MST21A-barnonlaurelbluffs We pass a restored tobacco barn and climb up a bluff overlooking the lake.

Dogs, dogs, dogs – my nemesis.

Dogs are supposed to be leashed here but few are. Most owners put them on a leash after we call out and they see us. One man with three large dogs can’t control them and keeps yelling at them. Finally we reach our car at 5 P.M. and decide to skip the car shuttle until tomorrow.

We’re staying at the Battleground Inn, a modest nonchain motel. Greensboro on Friday evening is a busy place. An Outback restaurant is within walking distance and that’s the obvious place for dinner.  
Peninsula Trail to Sam’s Stop Shop

15.8 miles 900 ft. ascent

We get an early start this morning, so early that Sharon is not happy. I think I woke her up. 

“Should we get separate rooms?” She asks. I don’t think so – I’ll be quieter, I promise.

We hadn’t set up yesterday because we didn’t want to deal with the Greensboro Friday night traffic. I had figured out where Sam’s Shop was – our end point. We set up our cars today. Still, we’re on the trail at 8 A.M.

MST21B-DannyandSharonWe start on the Peninsula trail, and then back on the road to the Osprey Trail. There are lots of modern artifacts or junk on this trail.

MST21B-artifactonospreytrailIt’s Saturday and people are walking their dogs, or maybe the dogs are walking them.

Still most are not on a leash. The instructions at each trailhead are clear but the owners just ignore them.

This time, it was Sharon that gets indignant and asks dog owners to put their dog on a leash. A runner asks us if we had a leash.

MST21B-testingicywatersLake Townsend is always in view as we circumnavigate the edge of the lake with its Canada geese, mallards, and even a boat. The city has put in an elaborate system of boardwalks over the boggy bits. It’s still icy and Sharon tests out the water.

We switch to Townsend Trail and walk out of the Greenway system through Bryan Park, on the road past a golf course. We have lunch on the grass at the edge of the golf course.

Sharon could have biked these few miles but we had to finish out the day. The route takes us through new housing developments.

MST21B-nodownpayment Some obviously hadn’t heard of the housing crisis and are still encouraging people to buy starter houses without a down payment. 

When we arrive at Sam’s Stop, a gas station, we find several old men using the store as a hangout. I ask if I can take a picture and one says “Suit yourself.” I take that as a “yes”.MST21B-menatSamsshop

Sharon leaves for home while I move on to Glencoe Mill, my home for the next few days.



Cumulative after Day 50  – 592.4 miles, 86,900 ft. ascent

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