MST Birthday Hike
The Cascades is on a hike sponsored by Ashe County on Saturday, Sept. 7 (photo:

On Sept. 9, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail celebrates its 42nd birthday, and your favorite statewide hiking trail would like nothing better as a present than for you to walk on it. 

To celebrate the trail’s birthday, the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is sponsoring 27 guided hikes over the course of the trail’s birthday weekend, from Friday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 8. 

Twenty-seven! That’s a lot of great hikes to chose from. To help you decide which birthday hike is right for you, we’ve identified a few that we think might fly under the radar. So we’re putting them on yours.

MST, we identified five great hikes in the Piedmont. Today, we look at six more awesome Birthday Weekend hikes, three in the mountains, three at the coast/coastal plain. We’ve provided the basics, briefly share what we love about the hike, then provide a link to where you can learn more and sign up.


The Mountains-to-Sea Trail follows the Blue Ridge Parkway for about 300 miles

MST at Deep Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway

When: Sunday, Sept. 8, 9 a.m.

Where: Elk Valley Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 274.3

Distance & Difficulty: 3.3 miles, Moderate

Why we love this hike: As far as easy access to great scenic hiking in the Southeast goes, you can’t beat the 300 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that flirts with the Blur Ridge Parkway. You may not be more than 100 yards from the Parkway and its steady thrum of traffic, yet you’ll be immersed in some of the most fetching views around. That’s especially true on this stretch of trail, which meets at the Elk Valley Overlook and shuttles to the Osborne Mountain Overlook (in part to take advantage of trend downhill). One moment you’ll have intimate passage through mature woods and rhododendrons, the next you’ll be passing through a field of mountain wildflowers. Then there are the views of some of North Carolina’s most iconic Pilot, Grandfather and Snake, and Elk Knob.  

Après hike: You’ll be about 20 minutes from the town of Todd; if you’ve never been, go. And bring an inner tube for floating the South Fork of the New River

For more info and to sign up, go here.

MST along the BRP: E.B. Jeffress Park & The Cascades

When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m.

Where: E.B. Jeffress Park, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 272.5

Sponsoring Town: Ashe County

Distance & Difficulty: 2 miles, Moderate

Why we love this hike: It’s a classic Blue Ridge Parkway experience. You’ve been driving a spell, you pull over to stretch your legs, in this case at E.B. Jeffress Park. You get out and —Oh, there’s a trail. You start down the path and suddenly find yourself steeped in the rugged grandeur of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the Piedmont gives sudden rise to the Southern Appalachians. This couldn’t possibly be more scenic, you think to yourself, cognizant of the fact all you wanted to do was keep from cramping up. It couldn’t possibly get more scenic, you think, and then it does, as you stumble upon The Cascades, a series of drops that will make you darn happy you remembered to bring your smartphone camera.

Après hike: Head to West Jefferson, where you can get a bite, get a beer, get a feel for a happening downtown that you’ll wonder how you’ve missed.

For more info and to sign up, go here.

Sparta Twin Bill

When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m. and again on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m.

Where: Meet at Milepost 234 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, across from Mahogany Rock Road

Sponsoring Town: Sparta

Distance & Difficulty: 2-3 miles, Moderate

Why we love this hike: Hiking the MST eastbound, from mountains to coast, it’s easy to get a bit melancholic when you reach Milepost 234 on the Blue Ridge Parkway: that means you’ve got less than two miles of mountain hiking to go before the trail drops down the Blue Ridge Escarpment at the Devil’s Garden Overlook into Stone Mountain State Park. But this last little bit gives you your money’s worth, with a last look west toward Mount Jefferson, Elk Knob and the state’s other northern mountain peaks. The best thing about this hike? If you can’t make it Saturday morning, it repeats Sunday afternoon.

Après hike: A short distance away is Sparta, where, on Friday night ,you’ll find live music downtown as part of Music on Main, from 6-8 p.m.

For more info and to sign up, go here for Saturday’s hike, here for Sunday’s.

Coast / coastal plain

Burgaw’s MST Birthday Hike starts from the town’s Historic Train Station (photo:

Explore Roseboro on the MST

When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 9 a.m.

Where: 704 W. Roseboro St., Roseboro

Sponsoring Town: Roseboro

Distance & Difficulty: 1.8 miles, Easy

Why we love this hike: One of the joys of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is that it’s not just about natural history, but human history as well. On this stroll through downtown — some on sidewalk, some on grass — you’ll learn about life in this small town in western Sampson County. You’ll hike past the historic Brick Cone Silo, the lone surviving remnant of a once-thriving lumber company. You’ll pass the home of Geddie Herring, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II. And you’ll indulge in some of the simple pleasures of small town life, like stopping along the way for ice cream, a sno cone, or a “Sunshine Slushie.”

Après hike: Stick around Roseboro and explore some more; hike leader Greg Butler will be glad to point you toward town highlights that might not be on the tour.

For more info and to sign up, go here.

The Jacksonville Greenway (photo:

Jacksonville Hike & Bike

When: Sunday, Sept. 8, 10 a.m.

Where: Biagios Restaurant, 622 Court St., Jacksonville,

Sponsoring Town: Jacksonville

Distance & Difficulty: 5-10 miles, Easy

Why we love this hike: This event is particularly geared toward families and those with a keen interest in history. From Biagios, this trip takes the Lejeune Greenway for about 2.5 miles, to the Lejeune Memorial Gardens, where there will be a tour. Lejeune Memorial Gardens honor those who serve and remember those who have given their lives for our country. It is home to the Beirut Memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and 9/11 Memorial Beam from the World Trade Center. After the tour, you have the option of continuing another 2.5 miles, to the entrance to Camp Lejeune (for a total of 10 miles), or returning (5 miles).

Après hike: In this case, it’s a pre-hike festivity, breakfast at Biiagio’s, at 8:30 a.m.

For more info and to sign up, go here.

Burgaw Greenway Hike

When: Saturday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m.

Where: Historic Train Depot, 115 S. Dickerson St., Burgaw

Sponsoring Town: Burgaw

Distance & Difficulty: Between 45 minutes and an hour, Moderate

Why we love this hike: You’ve seen the sign for Burgaw on I-40, on your way to the coast, and you’ve thought, Hmm, Burgaw. Wonder what it’s like? Here’s your chance to find out, on an hour (or so) tour via the MST as it piggybacks through town on the Burgaw Greenway Trail. This hike is on a trail that’s along the Osgood Canal for a stretch, and follows sidewalks linking the town’s parks, Burgaw Elementary, Burgaw Middle School and Burgaw’s Historic Downtown. The county seat of Pender County since 1879, Burgaw offers history in droves, starting with the train depot, which predates the Civil War. 

Après hike: Explore more of Burgaw by picking up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour at the Municipal Building.

For more info and to sign up, go here.

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Happy 42nd, MST!

To learn about 5 Piedmont hikes we love that are part of the MST Birthday Weekend celebration, go here.

Learn more about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s 42nd Birthday celebration and other hikes in the series by going here.