The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is one of the newest and most scenic long-distance trails in the region. Maintained by the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and its affiliated groups & agencies, it travels from the 6,643 foot peak of Clingman's Dome to the sand dunes of Jockey's Ridge State Park, NC. Even though it is still being constructed, it is nearly a 1,000-mile journey that is routed through the state of North Carolina on new and existing trails, country roads, through state parks, and along the coastal beaches.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is uniquely blazed by white dots. The trail is also marked by carsonites, posts, and signs with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail logo.
The MST's mountain section (Clingman's Dome to Stone Mountain State Park, NC) has numerous trailheads that are within an hour or two drive of the Tri-Cities. The trail starts in the Great Smoky Mountains Naitonal Park, and passes through the Nantalhala/Pisgah National Forests, the cities of Asheville & Blowing Rock, climbs to the top of Mount Mitchell, and travels alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway. A number of its sections offer from easy access along the Parkway to the most remote & mountainous backcountry and wilderness areas. Difficulty of the trail can range from easy to difficult; level hillside to steep and rocky grades.
After Stone Mountain State Park, the MST travels through the backroads and state parks of the North Carolina Piedmont to the Outer Banks.
Mileages of the MST-Mountain Section
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail mountain section:
The MST has recently undergone significant re-routing when leaving the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the North Carolina Piedmont and Coastal Plain sections.
Before venturing out over-night on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, hikers must be aware that camping permissions along the Mountain-to-Sea Trail varies greatly. So proper planning and researching needs to be conducted. Though camping is permitted in most of the backcountry areas in the Nantalhala and Pisgah National Forests, there are camping restrictions on other parts of the trail. The trail section inside the Smokies (GSMNP) requires a backcountry permit and campsite reservations. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, camping is prohibited except at Parkway campgrounds (proper registration required). Camping is permitted inside Mount Mitchell and Stone Mountain State Parks at only approved sites (proper registration required). Open fire regulations also need to be followed for each site depending on agency regulations.
The National Park Service is advising MST hikers to NOT hike the original rout ealong the Parkway between the Oconaluftee River To Balsam Gap due to possible dangers of walking through the Parkway tunnels.
Two new routes have been created to bypass the tunnnels. Route A takes a longer backcountry route through the Smokies to exit near Cataloochee Ranch and onwards to Soco Gap then Waterrock Knob. Route B exits the park at Deep Creek near Bryson City and continutes on roads toward Pinnacle Park & Waterrock Knob near Sylva/Waynesville. From Waterrock Knob, the MST is on established trail with short crossings of the parkway and forest roads.