North Carolinians Team up to Complete MST Hike in One Day

Over 1,600 North Carolinians collaborated on September 9, 2017 to complete in one day 100% of the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea hiking trail from the Smokies to the Outer Banks.   

Most hiking legs were 3-5 miles long, although one hiker went over 20 miles. Officials with the American Hiking Society said the “one-day” hike was probably the first such event ever among America’s long distance trails.

The hike, organized by Friends of the MST, commemorates a September 9, 1977 speech by Howard Lee that became the catalyst for creation of the trail. Lee was NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development at the time and told attendees at a national trails conference that North Carolina should create a “state trail from the mountains to the coast leading through communities as well as natural areas.” Lee, in his eighties, hiked the trail at Jones Lake State Park during the celebration.

Hurricane Irma did affect the event, as three persons on the alternative paddle route were called away to prepare for the hurricane as part of their jobs. 

“Hiking is physically and mentally healthy and low cost recreation,” said Kate Dixon, executive director of the Friends. “We believe the success of this event will inspire others to get outdoors, and reinforce the need to protect our state’s beautiful natural resources and scenic vistas.”

The MST was established as a state park in 2000. Friends will use funds raised in connection with the 40th anniversary of the Lee speech to build, maintain and promote the trail. Each year volunteers contribute over 30,000 hours to those tasks.


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