The MST turns 42; celebrate this weekend with a hike

What do Shane Battier, Adam Sandler, and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail have in common? They all share a birthday of Sept. 9.

We’re not sure how Shane and Adam will celebrate, but we doubt they’ll have as big a party as the MST is planning. For on Saturday — and the bumper days of Friday and Sunday, which constitute the MST’s birthday season — the MST will celebrate its 42nd birthday with 27 hikes on the MST across the state, from Cherokee in the mountains to — well, we’ll get to the coast in a minute.

We previously wrote about the 27 birthday hikes, including six we were especially keen on in the mountains and at the coast (read about those hikes here), and five in the Piedmont (read about those hikes here). We also wrote about the 42-Mile Challenge — hikers doing back-to-back 21-mile days on a stretch of the MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway; though registration has closed for that fundraising event, you can read about it, here.

Now, about those coastal hikes. With Hurricane Dorian potentially headed North Carolina’s way, the nine hikes scheduled for the coast and coastal plain are in jeopardy. Already, the hike scheduled for Nags Head has been canceled, the hike at Currie postponed. More cancelations/postponements are likely. You can find the latest status of those hikes on the MST website’s Group Hikes in Trail Towns page or on the trail’s Facebook page.

There’s also a third way you can celebrate the MST’s 42nd birthday — with a hike of your own devising on the trail. (Also a good option if you were planning to do a canceled/postponed hike at the coast, or if the scheduled guided hikes don’t work for your schedule.)

Where to hike on your own? Well, with some 700 miles of trail to choose from, picking a hike can be daunting. Fortunately, we’ve been writing about the trail for years and can help you out with that. Some recommendations from our collected writings …

birthday hike

The MST at Moore’s Knob, Hanging Rock State Park

Five Great MST Hikes in the Piedmont

You like to go short? We’ve got you covered (MST through Hillsborough). You like views? Got that, too (Hanging Rock). And if you like a hike with the potential to go long, really long, well, the MST through the Piedmont is full of options (along the Watershed Lakes in Greensboro; Falls Lake in Raleigh, the Eno River in Durham).

Get details here.

On its 300-mile run through the mountains, the MST passes through Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Five Great MST Hikes in the Mountains

If you like hikes that are easy to find and offer great scenery, you can’t do much better than the MST in the mountains, where the trail spends considerable time playing tag with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Be it near Asheville (Rattlesnake Lodge, the Folk Art Center), Blowing Rock and Boone (Beacon Heights), or in the remote “Mile-Hi” section between Mount Pisgah and Cherokee (Graveyard Fields), there are some awesome options. Don’t forget that the MST also spends quality time at Linville Gorge. 

Get details here. 

Five Great MST Hikes at the Coast and Coastal Plain

In the event Dorian continues to trend east, over the Atlantic, you might still have some good hiking options in the Coastal Plain come the weekend, at Jones Lake State Park, perhaps, or at neighboring Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest. Maybe even on the MST’s run through the Croatan National Forest?

Get details here.

birthday hike

The MST at Rough Ridge, Blue Ridge Parkway

Section Hike the MST: Blue Ridge Parkway North

If you missed registering for the 42-Mile Challenge (see above), but would love to honor the MST by hiking a bit of it along the 88 miles running from Beacon Heights north to the Devil’s Garden Overlook, have we got a recommendation for you: the northernmost 7.5 miles, from the Doughton Park Picnic Area north to Devil’s Garden. Bonus for this hike: while the hike may take you 4 hours (lots and lots of great views) the shuttle takes 12 minutes!

Get details here. 

birthday hike

Hike the MST along Falls Lake in the Piedmont

Section Hike the MST: 10 Miles Along Falls Lake

This is the most remote stretch on the MST’s 60-mile run through the Triangle. It takes you along the Eno, brushes up against Falls Lake, passes through meadows and forest. And, it’s also one of the flattest stretches of the MST along Falls Lake. Just the thing for a beginning of fall hiking season outing.

Get details here.

If none of these hikes work for you, you can find details on hiking the entire MST in the online Trail Guides available on the MST website. Find them here.

To make your hike an official part of the MST’s Birthday Weekend celebration, take a minute to register here.

Finally, if you hike, make sure you take a picture or two along the way, and submit them for the MST Birthday Hike Photo Contest. In a nutshell, photos will be judged in three categories, with Great Outdoor Provision Co. gift cards awarded for the top three photos in each category. Get details here.

When it comes to birthday gifts, the MST couldn’t make it easier. All it wants for its 42nd?

Your two feet.