Last evening I gave a talk on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at the annual meeting of the High Country Hikers in Hendersonville, NC. The audience was a well-traveled group of hikers who’ve been all over the world. We discussed hiking in France, the Baltic countries and the Inca Trail.
The evening before, I attended the quarterly Carolina Mountain Club council meeting where I updated the council on the MST – the whole trail. We, Western North Carolina hikers, are an arrogant lot. We feel that hiking in the Carolinas ends at about Grandfather Mountain. Who would want to go any further east?
The MST goes from the Mountains to the Sea. And how do you get to the sea? Via the Piedmont and the Coastal Plains which are fascinating areas in themselves. In addition, as I stress to mountain audiences, this is where the MST goes through several North Carolina state parks, such as Stone Mountain, Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock, Eno River, and Falls River. Maybe I missed a couple.
In Western North Carolina, we have so much federal land–the Smokies, Blue Ridge Park, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests–that we don’t seem to miss state parks. But state parks are very soft-core and their trails well marked.
As Sharon, Smoky Scout, my MST hiking partner, says when she talks to a WNC audience, “You need to get out of the mountains, people.” She’s right. And once you get out of the mountains, the hiking gets a lot easier.