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The Mountains-to-Sea Trail in and around Asheville, NC


Photo by @bthefruit

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Have you ever considered hiking the whole state of NC? Did you even know it was possible? The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is a footpath that goes for 1,200 miles across NC from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.

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Trail segments for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail I Graphic by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The MST — known as the highest elevation long-distance trail in the eastern US (where it crosses Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet) — would take the average hiker three to four months to complete in total. If you don’t have that much hiking spirit or PTO left in 2020, we suggest checking out Segments 3 and 4, which pass through + around Asheville.

Segment 3: The High Peaks & Asheville

Distance: 71.4 miles

Type: all on trail, with a few incidental road sections on the Blue Ridge Parkway, mostly on bridges at highway crossings

Difficulty: strenuous

Trail updates for COVID-19

DYK this is the most heavily used part of the MST in the mountains? You’re liable to meet trail runners, hikers + dog walkers here throughout the year. And it’s lovely year round, with azalea + rhododendrons at Craggy Gardens and fiery leaves in the fall.

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Segment 3 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail I Graphic by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Segment 4: Gorges, Peaks & Waterfalls

Distance: 75.3 miles

Type: 73 miles are on trails or abandoned logging roads, and less than three miles are on gravel roads

Difficulty: moderate to strenuous

This remote section of trail goes through Pisgah National Forest and offers dramatic scenic vistas as well as picturesque rivers, waterfalls + whitewater. Take in stunning views of Linville Gorge and Bald + Dobson Knobs, as well as Lakes Tahoma + James.


Segment 4 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail I Graphic by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The Friends of the MST are celebrating the trail’s 43rd birthday this month with some fun challenges to complete on the segment closest to you. Check out what they have in store for the rest of September here.

Have you hiked any of the MST? If so, what was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments below.

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