The Mountains to Sea Trail was born 40 years ago when Howard Lee gave a speech outlining the idea of a footpath that stretches across North Carolina. That seed of an idea has grown and matured over the past four decades to blossom into one of the best and most diverse long-distance hiking trails in the country.

Today, the MST offers a walkable 1,175-mile route across the state that starts at Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains and ends at Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. Over 680 miles of the pathway is laid out on inviting dirt tread. And more than 70 individuals have completed a thru-hike on the route. This fall I am hoping that I can add my name to that list.

The Journey

There is nothing I love to do more than take a long walk. But, I haven’t completed a thru-hike of more than a hundred or so miles since 2011. Since then, I’ve been pregnant twice. I have nursed for twenty months and counting. And, in between my two babies, I had to undergo surgery to remove a cyst from my knee. And that was followed by six months of physical therapy.

When I look back over the past six years, I can see that it’s been a beautiful – and challenging – season of life. And after countless diaper changes and sleepless nights, knee surgery and physical therapy, and the 24/7 demands of running a small business…

Well…. Momma needs a hike!!

This fall, I plan to walk every step of the trail. My husband, Brew, will drive along to support me and also check out the craft breweries, barbeque joints, and historic sites near the trail. And, our kids will be along for the ride – in the car and on the trail – exploring this great state with us. 

For outdoor recreation

I’ve heard a lot of my hiking friends say, “hiking is just walking.” And yes, in its simplest form, hiking is just walking in a natural setting. But for me, the act of putting one foot in front of the other has also been a source of inspiration and transformation. Hiking might be “just walking,” but it has changed my values, my outlook, and the very fiber of my being.

The Mountains to Sea Trail can change lives and positively impact people.

For conservation

My journey down the trail has not just been one of self-discovery and maturity, but conservation. When you take a hike you get to know the environment around you and you start to care about the environment around you.

The Mountains to Sea Trail is necessary because sometimes you don’t think about your carbon footprint until you see your own footprint on a dirt path.

For unity

With so much seeming out of our control at the national and international levels, it is time to turn our attention to our neighbors and our own backyard and focus on what we can do at home. We need to come together as hikers, conservationists, and proud North Carolinians to protect and promote the MST and complete its treadway.

This is our state. This is our trail. And now is the time when we must connect our people by connecting our paths.

The Invitation

Starting on August 15th, I will set out on a beautiful – and challenging – hike across North Carolina. Along the way, I will advocate for outdoor recreation, conservation, and unity. And I will try to raise awareness and raise funds for the Mountains to Sea Trail. But, I can’t do it alone.

Won’t you join me?

  • Consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Donate HERE.
  • Walk a few miles with our family at designated hiking events. (Hikes and Locations TBD)
  • Hike a different stretch of the trail in solidarity as we all try to complete the MST in a day on September 9th.
  • Come join us – and invite your friends to join us – at Fundraiser Events in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and Wilmington.
  • Follow along with our posts and updates on social media and join the effort by sharing your stories of hiking, picnicking, birding, trail running, paddling, and biking.

A Special thank you to Our Sponsors:

Farm to Feet, Diamond Brand Gear, Sawyer Products