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4shot
12-27-2017, 20:04
I am planning my summer (early June) hike. This year, due to either grace or misfortune, I have a couple of kids (17-18 yo) who want to come along. They have no real backpacking experience outside of a couple of overnighters. I have looked at the MTS website and need a recommendation for a 200 mile segment. I know the BMT and the southern AT and am comfortable hiking and leading a group along those. My dilemma - I want to see new trails but don't want to put the kids into hiking the northern NH/southern Maine types of trails on their first hike. So when the MTS website says a trail is "double black diamond" strenuous, are they talking southern Maine on the AT? or just your usual southern mountains type of difficulty? Any recommendations for a challenging (but not overwhelming) 200 mile section on this trail? As always, thanks in advance for any replies. Happy New Year to all.

Last Call
12-27-2017, 20:43
Amicalola to the Smokies.....

4shot
12-27-2017, 21:05
Amicalola to the Smokies.....

while I appreciate brevity, i also wish you that you would elaborate. Why this section over any on the MTS trail? remember, I want to kill 2 birds with one stone...I have some kids who want to go, and I want to see new trails. I have hiked the southern (Ga/Tn/NC) AT any number of times.

devoidapop
12-27-2017, 21:38
I believe the MST gets much easier after Grandfather Mountain. Maybe this is a good starting point? You've got 90 miles to Devil's Garden Overlook, then an easy hike to Stone Mountain if the kids are done after that.

Dogwood
12-28-2017, 00:31
Finally, I'm considering a MTS thru late this winter. I've hiked many sections of it though up to 150 mile segments mostly in the mountains. However, I've no real LD personal experience with the flatter segments near the ocean Based on what you said I too advise your party avoid Asheville past Mt Mitchell through Linville Gorge through Grandfather Mt.

200 miles is probably at least 2 wks with your party. Are they ready for that for their first real LD hike? Even if you say yes you may want to give serious consideration to how you will keep them physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged when those times fade away. This should IMO have off trail options especially if it gets rainy. One caveat of getting up hiker in June is that it will be less humid though. Might be worth considering when organizing the hike.

TIP: never met a teen that didn't like a neat watering hole.

4shot
12-28-2017, 08:18
Finally, I'm considering a MTS thru late this winter. I've hiked many sections of it though up to 150 mile segments mostly in the mountains. However, I've no real LD personal experience with the flatter segments near the ocean Based on what you said I too advise your party avoid Asheville past Mt Mitchell through Linville Gorge through Grandfather Mt.


Dogwood...I understand the risk and issues of taking the neophytes. However, I did a 3 day, 2 night trip with them in the fall in the GSMNP. They are "the type" (or appear to be anyway) mentally who can handle a long distance hike and I think 200 miles is a good number....long enough to get a taste of it without it becoming (or having the potential) to turn into a grind. I am figuring about 2 and 1/2 weeks. However, without at least the experience of having done a short trip with them I doubt I would be considering this.

With all that being said, how are the first 2 or 3 western (mountainous) sections of the MST in terms of difficulty? I read their website and see that they are rated strenuous (with even the diamond-type ski slope rating system used but it is always hard to interpret that. Are these sections typical southern Appalachian mountain trails such as the AT or BMT in terms of difficulty? Or are they more akin to what you find in northern NH/southern Maine on the AT? If so I probably will skip them for this trip although I am anxious not to be "treading trodden trails" (to quote D. Matthews). again, thanks for any input.

KCNC
12-28-2017, 09:39
Dogwood...I understand the risk and issues of taking the neophytes. However, I did a 3 day, 2 night trip with them in the fall in the GSMNP. They are "the type" (or appear to be anyway) mentally who can handle a long distance hike and I think 200 miles is a good number....long enough to get a taste of it without it becoming (or having the potential) to turn into a grind. I am figuring about 2 and 1/2 weeks. However, without at least the experience of having done a short trip with them I doubt I would be considering this.

With all that being said, how are the first 2 or 3 western (mountainous) sections of the MST in terms of difficulty? I read their website and see that they are rated strenuous (with even the diamond-type ski slope rating system used but it is always hard to interpret that. Are these sections typical southern Appalachian mountain trails such as the AT or BMT in terms of difficulty? Or are they more akin to what you find in northern NH/southern Maine on the AT? If so I probably will skip them for this trip although I am anxious not to be "treading trodden trails" (to quote D. Matthews). again, thanks for any input.

Looking at the MST Mountains trail guide I received as a Christmas gift;
-Segment 1A (Clingman's Dome to Waterrock Knob) just over 14K elevation gain - "challenging"
-Segment 2 (Waterrock to Pisgah Inn) and Segment 3 (Pisgah Inn to Black Mountain Campground) are both rated "strenuous" for difficult tread and lots of elevation change.
-Segment 4 (Black Mtn Campground to Beacon Heights) is 75 miles of "Moderate to Very Strenuous" (with the Linville Gorge section noted as the most challenging)
-Segment 5 (Beacon Heights to Devil's Garden) is 90 miles of "easy to moderate" and thus exhausts the "Mountain" section of the MST trail. I don't have the Piedmont guide.

That said, if you look at the photos of people who have completed a thru-hike of the MST, you'll notice that many of them are older and not what would be considered "athletic" by any measure.

KCNC
12-28-2017, 09:45
Finally, I'm considering a MTS thru late this winter. I've hiked many sections of it though up to 150 mile segments mostly in the mountains. However, I've no real LD personal experience with the flatter segments near the ocean Based on what you said I too advise your party avoid Asheville past Mt Mitchell through Linville Gorge through Grandfather Mt.

200 miles is probably at least 2 wks with your party. Are they ready for that for their first real LD hike? Even if you say yes you may want to give serious consideration to how you will keep them physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged when those times fade away. This should IMO have off trail options especially if it gets rainy. One caveat of getting up hiker in June is that it will be less humid though. Might be worth considering when organizing the hike.

TIP: never met a teen that didn't like a neat watering hole.

I'm only about 20 minutes from the MST down in the Coastal Plain segment. Ping me here via PM when you start making plans.

The Old Chief
12-28-2017, 10:21
I am planning my summer (early June) hike. This year, due to either grace or misfortune, I have a couple of kids (17-18 yo) who want to come along. They have no real backpacking experience outside of a couple of overnighters. I have looked at the MTS website and need a recommendation for a 200 mile segment. I know the BMT and the southern AT and am comfortable hiking and leading a group along those. My dilemma - I want to see new trails but don't want to put the kids into hiking the northern NH/southern Maine types of trails on their first hike. So when the MTS website says a trail is "double black diamond" strenuous, are they talking southern Maine on the AT? or just your usual southern mountains type of difficulty? Any recommendations for a challenging (but not overwhelming) 200 mile section on this trail? As always, thanks in advance for any replies. Happy New Year to all.

The closest you will get as far as NH/southern Maine type of trail, is the mileage from Beacon Heights to Black Mtn Campground and includes the Tablerock, Shortoff Mtn, Linville Gorge sections of the MST, but still not that close. Does that make sense? Hiking in June thru this area also includes a lot of water crossings including a ford of the Linville River. This 75 mile section of trail is also the most remote you will find on the MST. From Hwy 221 to Black Mtn Campground is also remote with only one road crossing (Blue Ridge Parkway). The trail up and over Woods Mtn is one of the best and most scenic sections of the MST in my opinion. From Black Mtn Campground to Asheville involves several road crossings, the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC128, and all the stuff on top of Mt. Mitchell, but still very enjoyable. About 2 miles below the summit of Mt. Mitchell, before the campground, are some really great camp sites, with plenty of water and views.

In my opinion a good 200 mile hike would be Section 2, starting at Waterock Knob, section 3, and section 4, ending at Beacon Heights. Beacon Heights would be a good place to start with novice hikers. Strenuous in places with some moderate to easy hiking, but nothing even a novice hiker couldn't do. And Waterrock Knob is a very scenic place end a hike.

The Old Chief
12-28-2017, 10:44
Finally, I'm considering a MTS thru late this winter. I've hiked many sections of it though up to 150 mile segments mostly in the mountains. However, I've no real LD personal experience with the flatter segments near the ocean Based on what you said I too advise your party avoid Asheville past Mt Mitchell through Linville Gorge through Grandfather Mt.

200 miles is probably at least 2 wks with your party. Are they ready for that for their first real LD hike? Even if you say yes you may want to give serious consideration to how you will keep them physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged when those times fade away. This should IMO have off trail options especially if it gets rainy. One caveat of getting up hiker in June is that it will be less humid though. Might be worth considering when organizing the hike.

TIP: never met a teen that didn't like a neat watering hole.

Starting a MST thru-hike in late winter on the coast is a good idea in my opinion. There will be stretches the first few days where you will be the only person on the beaches The ferries don't run as often but no big deal. Getting thru all the swampy areas before hot weather is a big plus. The flatter walking is not bad once you get used to it. Rural road walking is interesting and the number of people who will want to talk to you about what you're doing is surprising. And just about every one of them will offer some type of help or encouragement. Use the MST guidebooks and website and you'll be okay. Be sure to refer to the updates section on the website as small changes in trail directions are always likely.

Tipi Walter
12-28-2017, 11:16
Thanks KCNC for the Sections list. I know the Beacon Heights going south section to Linville Gorge well as it's part of my old backpacking stomping grounds and explored on a couple recent long trips.

As mentioned, this section has many creek crossings including Linville River---Buck Creek, a couple Steels Creek crossings, Gingercake Creek, Upper Creek, several Harper Creek crossings, a half dozen North Harper Creek fords, Lost Cove Creek crossings etc . . But it's a beautiful section and heck I like it so much I'd just stay in this section and pull blue blazes and repeat the whole thing until you hit your 200 mile goal.

Taba Ward's MST guide book is probably the best---
41328
Here's a page from his guidebook.

41329
This is Heather Housekeeper who is pulling her second MST thruhike when I met her on Gragg Prong north of Huntfish Falls.

41330

41331
This is another woman MST thruhiker who I met on the Raider Camp section and her name is Late Start.

41332

41333
These maps show you Trail 440 which is the MST and also shows the potential to do ranging blue blaze hikes away from the MST on peripheral trails---thereby augmenting your mountain section in some great wilderness areas. You could bounce between Linville Gorge and Gragg Prong on the MST for a couple weeks and detour off the MST and pull every awesome trail on the map---using the MST as your main connecting trail etc.

stumpknocker
12-28-2017, 18:27
Starting a MST thru-hike in late winter on the coast is a good idea in my opinion. There will be stretches the first few days where you will be the only person on the beaches The ferries don't run as often but no big deal. Getting thru all the swampy areas before hot weather is a big plus. The flatter walking is not bad once you get used to it. Rural road walking is interesting and the number of people who will want to talk to you about what you're doing is surprising. And just about every one of them will offer some type of help or encouragement. Use the MST guidebooks and website and you'll be okay. Be sure to refer to the updates section on the website as small changes in trail directions are always likely.

^^ This is what I would do if I ever did the MST again. I got more bug bites (that itched and left welts for a long time) near the coast than I've ever encountered on another trail. I enjoyed the flat coast, but certainly would have enjoyed it more in the cooler weather of winter.

To the OP...I really don't remember anything resembling the AT in Maine. I thought it was all just a nice trail.
The only gear I would add if I did it again would be long pants because there were some places with overgrown nettles.

Dogwood
12-28-2017, 23:24
Dogwood...I understand the risk and issues of taking the neophytes. However, I did a 3 day, 2 night trip with them in the fall in the GSMNP. They are "the type" (or appear to be anyway) mentally who can handle a long distance hike and I think 200 miles is a good number....long enough to get a taste of it without it becoming (or having the potential) to turn into a grind. I am figuring about 2 and 1/2 weeks. However, without at least the experience of having done a short trip with them I doubt I would be considering this.

With all that being said, how are the first 2 or 3 western (mountainous) sections of the MST in terms of difficulty? I read their website and see that they are rated strenuous (with even the diamond-type ski slope rating system used but it is always hard to interpret that. Are these sections typical southern Appalachian mountain trails such as the AT or BMT in terms of difficulty? Or are they more akin to what you find in northern NH/southern Maine on the AT? If so I probably will skip them for this trip although I am anxious not to be "treading trodden trails" (to quote D. Matthews). again, thanks for any input.

2, 3, and 4 are strenuous overall.

Pros:
Spell checker got me before but you're at higher elev so it will be cooler. Could be a factor for June.

Physically, mentally, and scenically engaging segments between Asheville and Grandfather Mt with all the ups and downs, rocks, scrambles, dicey overlooks, high pts, etc made more so if you veer off the MST a bit and also take in the ladders, caves, rock houses, overlooks, scrambles, creeks, waterfalls, and cables up to and including the Mile High Bridge, Mt Mitchell summit area with a frolic over to Craig Mt(second highest Mt in the east and not nearly as packed as Mt Mitchell likely will be in June with good weather). I'd camp near/at Calloway if you veer off at Grandfather. All this is interspersed with rather easier mundane days along the BRP like on the Tanawha Tr.

Plenty of CS's. Some which are first come first served.


Tipi has a good pt in considering not strictly adhering to the MST. These segments take in other worthy scenic trails and experiences. Could do some non MST hiking in Linville Gorge to overlooks and getting down to the river/Linville Caverns, around G Mt which you don't actually summit on the MST, and take in added waterfalls in Pisgah Nat Forest with many to choose from in the Harper Crk Wilderness Study Area. I've found it better while leading athletic and already 2-3 day trips under their belt experienced teens to cut down not only on the daily miles but the overall trip distance if it keeps them in the moment, present, safe, and engaged. Seems reasonable especially on more strenuous technically slower terrain. All of us can benefit from a good dose of slower is sometimes better. :D You know your party - your teenaged adults - better than anyone here.

Cons:

Strenuous, to the pt of possibly being dangerous(which they will likely say is fun) on the non MST route described.

These segments ramp up to busy going into June. The closer you get to the main areas like Mt Mitchell, Linville Gorge, A Ville, Grandfather, etc the busier. I typically do these segments in late winter and late fall(from Bowlens Crk/Black Mountains Crest Trail(this is not the MST) to Grandfather in a wk long romp or all of the Black Mts to Cane Crk Gap for a weekender.

Permits?(Linville for example?)

Dogwood
12-28-2017, 23:26
Starting a MST thru-hike in late winter on the coast is a good idea in my opinion. There will be stretches the first few days where you will be the only person on the beaches The ferries don't run as often but no big deal. Getting thru all the swampy areas before hot weather is a big plus. The flatter walking is not bad once you get used to it. Rural road walking is interesting and the number of people who will want to talk to you about what you're doing is surprising. And just about every one of them will offer some type of help or encouragement. Use the MST guidebooks and website and you'll be okay. Be sure to refer to the updates section on the website as small changes in trail directions are always likely.


^^ This is what I would do if I ever did the MST again. I got more bug bites (that itched and left welts for a long time) near the coast than I've ever encountered on another trail. I enjoyed the flat coast, but certainly would have enjoyed it more in the cooler weather of winter.

To the OP...I really don't remember anything resembling the AT in Maine. I thought it was all just a nice trail.
The only gear I would add if I did it again would be long pants because there were some places with overgrown nettles.


THX for the advise. I was thinking along the same lines.

The Old Chief
12-29-2017, 10:14
Regarding guidebooks, Taba's guidebook has not been updated since 2012 and is practically useless in the piedmont and coastal regions that the MST now travels. It remains somewhat accurate in the mountains but there again, enough reroutes have happened since 2012 that it can't be considered dependable for the entire route. He put out a good guidebook and I wish he would do it again and bring it up to date.
As far as the original question goes, I still think Sections 2,3, & 4 in the mountains would make a great 200 mile hike. Teenagers shouldn't have any problems. I've hike these areas in the past 2 years, not in particularly good shape, and managed quite well.

soumodeler
12-29-2017, 14:03
Regarding guidebooks, Taba's guidebook has not been updated since 2012 and is practically useless in the piedmont and coastal regions that the MST now travels. It remains somewhat accurate in the mountains but there again, enough reroutes have happened since 2012 that it can't be considered dependable for the entire route. He put out a good guidebook and I wish he would do it again and bring it up to date.
As far as the original question goes, I still think Sections 2,3, & 4 in the mountains would make a great 200 mile hike. Teenagers shouldn't have any problems. I've hike these areas in the past 2 years, not in particularly good shape, and managed quite well.
You would post this the day after I buy that guidebook... oh well, at least I know it’s not 100% accurate in the mountains.

4shot
12-29-2017, 18:20
Thanks to everyone for the good advice. Sections 2,3 and 4 are intriguing. I may get the guidebook anyways but what maps should i get for these sections? I am one of those old school guys who insist on carrying maps. even when I'm on the AT. Happy New Year's everyone and hope to see y'all on the trail this year.

Dogwood
12-29-2017, 19:11
Just one map: Western N. Carolina Trail Guide - Grandfather Ranger District... and parts of Appalachian Ranger District - Pisgah Nat Forest. Outfitters like ahem REI usually carry then when the store locations are within the vicinity. All the REI's around A ville should carry them and maybe some of the TN REI's.

Dogwood
12-29-2017, 19:12
Ping us back to let us know how the hike with the kids went.

The Old Chief
12-30-2017, 10:42
Really good maps are also available from the National Geographic Map Store. The ones to look for are North Carolina maps 779 & 780. They are waterproof and cost $11.95 each. The Mountains to Sea Trail is highlighted prominently on these maps. They should also be available at REI. Instead of buying a trail guide that's out of date just go to the MST website and print out copies of the specific trail guide (area) you want. It's free and accurate.

Tipi Walter
12-30-2017, 11:03
This is a really good source of obscure NC and Georgia maps---
https://theforeststore.com/product-category/maps/

devoidapop
12-30-2017, 11:55
This is a really good source of obscure NC and Georgia maps---
https://theforeststore.com/product-category/maps/

Fantastic resource, Tipi!

I never knew there was a guide for Birkhead Mountain Wilderness. Maybe now I can find those plantation ruins.

Dogwood
01-01-2018, 00:55
For those that have done all the MST what maps did you feel you absolutely needed? I know of the maps on the MST site done by The Hiking Project and the maps of NC SP's. I have most of the maps for the western mountains part of the MST but sorely lacking detailed Piedmont maps. Thx to Tipi for his map link but I'm trying to avoid buying $120+ worth of a large assortment of maps. I'd optimally desire topos where the MST is not well marked and would also like to see the "bigger picture" in larger maps to note where I might take an alternate or add on blue blazes and other worthy loops.

The Old Chief
01-01-2018, 10:26
For those that have done all the MST what maps did you feel you absolutely needed? I know of the maps on the MST site done by The Hiking Project and the maps of NC SP's. I have most of the maps for the western mountains part of the MST but sorely lacking detailed Piedmont maps. Thx to Tipi for his map link but I'm trying to avoid buying $120+ worth of a large assortment of maps. I'd optimally desire topos where the MST is not well marked and would also like to see the "bigger picture" in larger maps to note where I might take an alternate or add on blue blazes and other worthy loops.

No maps for the Piedmont and Coastal regions. Maybe a NC highway map to see all the towns around you once in a while but not too necessary with all the info in the guidebooks online. State Park maps could be useful for side trips or loops, but none of these are absolutely necessary.

4shot
01-01-2018, 11:59
2 quick questions after doing a bit of looking at the MST trail guides...how did y'all handle resupply in section 4? Also, the guide doesn't show many campsites in section 3. I'm assuming that the guide is similar to the BMT and AT guides in that there are many wonderful campsites along the way and are just too numerous to list. Is this correct? I'll guess I'll add one more...water accessibility. An places in sections 2,3 or 4 where there may be problems?

Dogwood
01-01-2018, 15:04
No maps for the Piedmont and Coastal regions. Maybe a NC highway map to see all the towns around you once in a while but not too necessary with all the info in the guidebooks online. State Park maps could be useful for side trips or loops, but none of these are absolutely necessary.

Thx Chief. Was going to include looking at pages from the NC Delorme Atlas & Gazetter. I'm a map person wanting to see the larger picture of what's around me especially needed since I'm starting off in late winter. I'm concerned with some of the trail descriptions/directions in the guide and various closures for services in the coastal and Piedmont areas.


Anyone paddle the Neuse River as a way to officially complete the hike? Any Nuese River paddlers on WB? Any opinions about the scenery and experiences lost if one doesn't hike those segments instead doing the paddle?

Southeast
01-01-2018, 15:33
Iím looking at doing some segments this year so I appreciate the thread.
One option for maps is to download the GPX tracks from Hiking Project and import them into Caltopo and print at whatever zoom level you want.

The Old Chief
01-02-2018, 10:04
Thx Chief. Was going to include looking at pages from the NC Delorme Atlas & Gazetter. I'm a map person wanting to see the larger picture of what's around me especially needed since I'm starting off in late winter. I'm concerned with some of the trail descriptions/directions in the guide and various closures for services in the coastal and Piedmont areas.


Anyone paddle the Neuse River as a way to officially complete the hike? Any Nuese River paddlers on WB? Any opinions about the scenery and experiences lost if one doesn't hike those segments instead doing the paddle?

Yes, there have been a few to paddle the Neuse. I dropped 2 hikers/paddlers off on the Neuse River where Hwy 42 crosses the Nuese and they both paddled to a place called Pelican's Landing (privately owned by a super nice guy) and then the young lady converted to a kayak and followed the river to a takeout at the Neusiok Trail. They camped one night in Howell Woods, were taken to a building in Goldsboro, the second night, spent the third night camped near a restaurant, and a fourth night at the public campground in downtown Kinston. Pelican's Landing would have been their next night but the male paddler had to go home so I picked him up there. When you decide on your plans PM me and I'll get you in touch with the right paddling club in this area to assist you. An old dam has been removed from the Neuse about halfway down the Neuse River trail so now a paddling trip can start from the Falls Lake Dam. The scenery and experiences are bound to be different but you will see things a walker never would.

The Old Chief
01-02-2018, 10:22
[QUOTE=Dogwood;2186583]Thx Chief. Was going to include looking at pages from the NC Delorme Atlas & Gazetter. I'm a map person wanting to see the larger picture of what's around me especially needed since I'm starting off in late winter. I'm concerned with some of the trail descriptions/directions in the guide and various closures for services in the coastal and Piedmont areas.

There are still enough accomodations open at the coast during the winter months to take care of your needs. The restaurant and motel at Cedar Island has just reopened, I would think, for travelers using the Ocracoke Ferry. Taba's guidebook listed several churches from Cedar Island to the Neusiok Trail where they would allow camping. There are a couple of Trailjournals.com hikes of this area that might indicate where they camped at night. I'll try to find some blogs written by former hikers and get them to you.

gunner76
01-05-2018, 11:15
I came across Taba Ward on the Neusiok Trail section of the MST a few years ago. Nice guy. Be aware that much of the MST is a road hike and there are sections where camping is not allowed.

Tipi Walter
01-05-2018, 11:33
I came across Taba Ward on the Neusiok Trail section of the MST a few years ago. Nice guy. Be aware that much of the MST is a road hike and there are sections where camping is not allowed.

Exactly true. I did parts around Greensboro NC and his guidebook is funny---No Camping Allowed---Seek out the closest motel at the end of the day. A crappy way to pull a backpacking trip in my opinion.

Some MST thruhikers bicycle these long road sections.

The Old Chief
01-05-2018, 12:02
I came across Taba Ward on the Neusiok Trail section of the MST a few years ago. Nice guy. Be aware that much of the MST is a road hike and there are sections where camping is not allowed.

The MST is almost 1200 miles long and 680 of those miles are on "real" trail. By the end of 2018 I would expect over 700 miles on "real" trail. For those wanting a wilderness experience you will never get it doing a thru-hike of the MST. The purpose of the MST is to cross the State of North Carolina, from the highest point on the Tn-NC border to the highest point on the coast, taking in many scenic areas of the State. It accomplishes that by using a route that goes through many urban areas of NC. Can't be avoided-- we're an urban State. If you want to do a thru-hike of the MST you are allowed to bike paved sections of the Trail, instead of walking too many paved roads. Many hikers have decided that its a pretty good accomplishment to complete a designated walk across the State. There are many more camping options than there were in 2012, the last edition of Taba's guidebook. If you're planning a hike of the MST use up to date material. If you use Taba's guidebook, good luck.

The Old Chief
01-05-2018, 12:06
Exactly true. I did parts around Greensboro NC and his guidebook is funny---No Camping Allowed---Seek out the closest motel at the end of the day. A crappy way to pull a backpacking trip in my opinion.

Some MST thruhikers bicycle these long road sections.

You would be the last hiker, in my opinion, that would ever be happy on the MST once it left Stone Mtn State Park!

Tipi Walter
01-05-2018, 12:40
You would be the last hiker, in my opinion, that would ever be happy on the MST once it left Stone Mtn State Park!

You're right about that. Getting older means I much prefer "unbroken" wilderness or what's left of such wilderness. But in my glory years I took great satisfaction in stealth camping off roads and behind grocery stores and in town cemeteries and other stealth spots on my long hitchhiking journeys. I was young and could better tolerate urbanization and the noise of traffic and road walking. Now I have a new mantra: "Life's too short to be on a road."

Dogwood
01-05-2018, 13:34
THX to everyone especially Old Chief.

OC you nailed what I expected and why I want to experience the MST. I'm not looking for a 100% solitude remote single track in forests and backcountry NP's LD type backpacking trip. I want to experience NC from the Atlantic to the mountains on a single continuous adventurous backpacking, day hiking, paddling, and bicycling trip. I also want to experience combining all these activities on one continuous trip because I expect to be doing more of these multi activity LD trips in the future. This brings fresh exciting "traveling"elements to what at the core is a hike.

Since one can cover stretches faster when paddling downstream or on a bike compared to a backpacker I'll have more access to camping opps. Since an early start is anticipated I expect some snow travel as well. I also like the idea of traveling at varying paces via different mediums.

I liken the MST somewhat to other trails/routes in how they are sometimes organized that I've experienced as a LASHer that do the same thing like the Long Path Tr in NY, California Coastal Trail(460 more miles and completed), and American Discovery Tr.

Dogwood
01-05-2018, 14:00
I'm also not desiring going out to places I'm already quite familiar to basically camp. Life can be perceived as too short for that too.


I find road walks on what are LD hiking trips sometimes to be scenically and culturally rewarding. Road walks break things up. Some I've despised though. All road walks are not the same. Nature can be experienced on road walks too! Being out for not wks at a time but months on LD hikes they can bring a hiker into contact with a multitude of other worthy non hiking experiences and diversity which is how I design all "thru-hikes." I like having the option to mix things up from solitudinous to more social experiences, taking in historical sites, museums, botanical gardens, coastal verse mountain verse bucolic same state culture

Tipi Walter
01-05-2018, 15:34
Roadwalking on a backpacking trip can also really REEK!! My last roadwalk was a 10 mile stretch on the Cherohala Skyway aka Screamway---a scenic road now turned into a motorcycle racetrack---


https://www.facebook.com/tipi.walter/videos/10155825992323814/

4shot
01-05-2018, 19:23
I have been reading this thread and trying to do the research on this trail. I am looking at doing 200 miles of sections 2,3 and 4. If I was going solo, I could manage by stealth camping here and there. However, I will be travelling with a party of 2-3 teenagers. At night, i want to spread out as I am a light sleeper. And i don't want to worry about getting ticketed. Don't think the parents of the kids would appreciate that. Would I be better served by saving this hike for when I am solo? Occasional roadwalking is not that big of an issue, especially if it is on an isolated road but I do not like walking the shoulder of a busy 4 lane highway.. As always, any input is greatly appreciated.

The Old Chief
01-06-2018, 14:27
I have been reading this thread and trying to do the research on this trail. I am looking at doing 200 miles of sections 2,3 and 4. If I was going solo, I could manage by stealth camping here and there. However, I will be travelling with a party of 2-3 teenagers. At night, i want to spread out as I am a light sleeper. And i don't want to worry about getting ticketed. Don't think the parents of the kids would appreciate that. Would I be better served by saving this hike for when I am solo? Occasional roadwalking is not that big of an issue, especially if it is on an isolated road but I do not like walking the shoulder of a busy 4 lane highway.. As always, any input is greatly appreciated.

You will not be walking down the shoulders of a 4 lane highway in sections 2,3, and 4. There is very little roadwalking in this 200 miles, some of it required to use bridges on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Very light traffic especially on weekdays. There are more than ample choices for campsites especially in the Middle Prong-Shining Rock areas and Mt. Mitchell to Beacon Heights areas. A party of 4 will have no trouble at all. If you start at Beacon Heights you'll have a ton of camp sites in the first days of travel that would be good for hikers just starting out. Here again, study the MST guidebooks and you'll see everything is mainly off road. The main roadwalking is on the Kistler Memorial Highway (sounds huge and busy, right?) which is just a dirt road full of pot holes in the middle of nowhere (west rim of the Linville Gorge) and a few other FS dirt roads that aren't even two lanes wide. You will see plenty of camping areas not listed in the guidebook. Go to the MST website and look at the guides for sections 2,3, and 4 as it is evident that you haven't seen them yet.

KCNC
01-06-2018, 17:48
The MST is almost 1200 miles long and 680 of those miles are on "real" trail. By the end of 2018 I would expect over 700 miles on "real" trail. For those wanting a wilderness experience you will never get it doing a thru-hike of the MST. The purpose of the MST is to cross the State of North Carolina, from the highest point on the Tn-NC border to the highest point on the coast, taking in many scenic areas of the State. It accomplishes that by using a route that goes through many urban areas of NC. Can't be avoided-- we're an urban State. If you want to do a thru-hike of the MST you are allowed to bike paved sections of the Trail, instead of walking too many paved roads. Many hikers have decided that its a pretty good accomplishment to complete a designated walk across the State. There are many more camping options than there were in 2012, the last edition of Taba's guidebook. If you're planning a hike of the MST use up to date material. If you use Taba's guidebook, good luck.

I've seen the plans for a nice chunk of Section 14 (part of the Coastal Crescent) and there are strong possibilities to get significant portions off-road in this area. If similar progress is going on in other places I wouldn't be surprised for your projected gain to continue, and perhaps increase, on a steady basis.

Dogwood
01-06-2018, 19:39
Lots of useful info on this thread. Many gaps in what I knew and had questions about have been bridged. TU again. :sun

4shot
01-06-2018, 19:41
Really good maps are also available from the National Geographic Map Store. The ones to look for are North Carolina maps 779 & 780. They are waterproof and cost $11.95 each. The Mountains to Sea Trail is highlighted prominently on these maps. They should also be available at REI. Instead of buying a trail guide that's out of date just go to the MST website and print out copies of the specific trail guide (area) you want. It's free and accurate.

I just went into the local outfitters (in a town that I have recently moved to). Although they didn't carry a lot in the way of maps, they had 779 and 780.(an aside, they were great...is there anything better than having a great local outfitter equipped with staff who have actually spent time outside? The guy who assisted me recently did a thruhike on the Arizona Trail. But I digress.) I like the NatGeo maps. The idea of doing the side trails is intriguing and looks like a fun way to see the area AND compress the shuttle distance. Plus, i always have been a "blue blazer" at heart and I cannot resist side trails.. Again, thanks to you and everyone who has contributed

shelb
01-07-2018, 00:29
Amicalola to the Smokies.....

If your focus is on these kids, I agree that Amicalola to Smokes (basically, approach trail to Clingman's Dome for 200!) will be best.

However, it sounds like you want to go north since you already hiked this area. In that case, it might be good to go fromeither SNP north or Harpers Ferry North. Regarding these areas (which I hiked with my sons when they were between 10-13 years)... SNP - good climbs, smooth trails, great views; (about 100 miles); SNP north to HF? I haven't done it. ... However, HF north ... HF - great historical park...hiking north into Maryland... WOW - views, historical parks ,etc. PA after that? initially, cow paths, smooth hiking.. for 50 miles.... and then, you will see the ROCKS!!!!!! Good luck!

4shot
01-07-2018, 10:43
If your focus is on these kids, I agree that Amicalola to Smokes (basically, approach trail to Clingman's Dome for 200!) will be best.

However, it sounds like you want to go north since you already hiked this area. In that case, it might be good to go fromeither SNP north or Harpers Ferry North. Regarding these areas (which I hiked with my sons when they were between 10-13 years)... SNP - good climbs, smooth trails, great views; (about 100 miles); SNP north to HF? I haven't done it. ... However, HF north ... HF - great historical park...hiking north into Maryland... WOW - views, historical parks ,etc. PA after that? initially, cow paths, smooth hiking.. for 50 miles.... and then, you will see the ROCKS!!!!!! Good luck!

Shelb - thanks for the tips. Actually I have thru-hiked the AT and section hiked all of it from Hot Springs down to Springer numerous times. I have section hiked all of the BMT, been on some pieces of it several times. I have stayed on these trails for logistics reasons/proximity and also, I am cheap - already have the maps and guidebooks. However, I want to see new roots and rocks under my feet. The traffic on the southern AT has grown exponentially over the last several years which is one reason I moved my annual trips over to the BMT. I love the solitude.

Here in the south, I want to hike the MST as well as the Sheltowee Trace in the future. I think I will present several 200 mile options to the kids (one or two from each of the 4 trails I have just mentioned) and let them choose. The AT does have a mystique about it, especially to beginning hikers, so if the kids want to do that that's what I will do, possibly from Mt. Rogers down to Hot Springs. However, due to familiarity and "crowds", it would be my last option. But my main goal is for the kids to have fun, be involved to a certain extent in the planning and to enjoy the hike.