PURLEAR — Sightseers across North Carolina hike the Mountains to Sea Trail on its 42nd birthday weekend Sept. 6-8, and a group will saunter along Ashe County’s neck of the statewide trail, starting from E.B. Jeffress Park at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, according to MST South Ashe County Task Force Leader Jim Hallsey.
About 30 miles of the more than 1,100-mile MST meander along the southeast border of Ashe County, following beside the Blue Ridge Parkway from Deep Gap to N.C. 18, Hallsey said.
Those 30 miles of trail took 150 volunteers some 6,700 hours of trailblazing to complete between 2007 and 2010, with still more hours of regular and emergency maintenance performed each year, Hallsey said.
To appreciate the MST’s natural beauty and observe the hard work put into Ashe County’s stretch of the trail, Hallsey and Ashe County state park superintendent Joe Shimel attended the Ashe County Board of Commissioners regular meeting Monday, Aug. 19, inviting the public to a one-mile guided hike, starting at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 from E.B. Jeffress Park, trailhead for The Cascades waterfall, located at milepost 272.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Ashe County Board of Commissioners thanked Hallsey and Shimel for the invite, and Chairman Todd McNeill said the MST is one of many outdoor amenities Ashe County is fortunate to have.
“We’ve got tremendous recreational activities right here in our backyard,” McNeill said. “People travel hundreds of miles to come here and enjoy stuff that we’ve got just down the road.”
Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail is the nonprofit group that organizes construction and maintenance of the MST, which travels from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, across North Carolina to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on North Carolina’s eastern coast at Nags Head.
For more information about the MST, and to register for the 42nd MST birthday hike in Ashe County, go online to https://mountainstoseatrail.org/birthdayhike/.