The Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The MST is not just for long-distance hikers. Each year thousands take to the trail for just a few hours, or overnighters. The trail is a linear state park that goes from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.  The state is working on a master plan for the route in the east that would parallel the Neuse River.  Until that is completed, the Friends of the MST recognizes people who paddle the Neuse or who hike the Coastal Crescent Trail through Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender, Onslow and Carteret counties.

Some people who complete the trail do it as a continuous “thru-hike” while others “section-hike” it over time. “We just want folks to get off their chairs and out of their cars to enjoy the great natural beauty of our state,” Dixon said.

Each year FMST volunteers and members of various outdoor clubs spend over 29,000 hours building and maintaining the trail. While more than 600 miles have been completed, there is a route for the trail across all of the state. The gaps between wooded sections are filled by walking along sparsely used rural roads.

The Friends has recently completed a detailed description of various trail sections.  For additional information contact

50th Person Conquers Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Lorie Hansen of Hendersonville has become the 50th person to conquer the 1,000-mile hike across North Carolina called the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

“North Carolina’s tallest mountains, fickle weather and solitude over a great distance are just some of the challenges hikers have faced and met,” said Kate Dixon executive director of the Friends of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

The majority of those completing the trail are much like Hansen, a first-time long distance hiker. She also represents the increasing number of women of all ages completing the trail.

The first to complete the hike were long-time outdoorsmen Allen DeHart and Alan Householder in 1997.  It was five more years before another person finished. In 2003, three of the four completers were the first women. Since then not a year has gone by without at least one person hiking the entire length. Nearly half of the 50 have been in the last three years.

Among those completing the trail were:

Diane Van Deren – a world reknown endurance runner, who completed the trail in 22 days, 5 hours and 3 minutes, a record. Van Deren was featured in the May 2012 issue of Endurance Magazine.

Scot Ward of Lexington, Kentucky has completed the trail five times.

Trevor Thomas, who made it with the assistance of his guide dog.

Others have been grandmothers, teenagers and two business partners who had never backpacked.

“We’ve got a long way to go to catch up with the Appalachian Trail, but it should be recognized that it was about 30 years between the first AT hiker and the 50th “  Dixon said.