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Mountains to Sea Trail Advice Needed


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Hello fellow hikers!

Fot this thread, i will not get into the full details of my plan to thru hike the MST, or the mission I hope to accomplish with it. However, I would greatly appreciate some advice on the trail from anyone who has hiked it, or portions of it.

For this thread, my focus is figuring out where the more challenging areas along the trail are to find camping spots, and in those areas, if anyone has advice on where to camp. I have a good deal of knowledge when it comes to the smoky mountains, and the Croatan National Forest. However the area between I am inexperienced with. Including the portion that runs along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I understand that in the National Forests, most, if not all allow dispersed camping with set rules and regs. However there is large portions of the trail that run through other areas (Falls Lake area in particular I hear is challenging to find a spot to rest for the night.) As well as large road hiking portions. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I plan on begining my hike on the coast near the begining of March 2015.

While I do hammock camp and backpack frequently, for this trip I feel a tent would be much more feasable.

Thank you in advance for any help anyone can offer.

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  • 5 months later...
The Botanical Hiker

Hi there! I have thru-hiked the Mountains to Sea Trail twice, east to west in 2011, west to east in 2014.

To address the questions you posed above:

The Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions do pose some of the most challenges as far as camping goes. However there are a number of churches that allow hikers to camp on their property. If you pick up a copy of Scot Taba Ward's guidebook, you will see about 20 listed most being throughout these regions. It is only important that you call ahead to let them know when you are coming and to gain permission.

There are also a number of new campsites throughout the Piedmont as well. Falls Lake now has at least one campground area, perhaps two even if I remember correctly. Info can be found on these camping areas at www.ncmst.org. The Friends of the MST are currently working on a guidebook for the trail that offers detailed info on camping and lodging. Several segments of this guide are already completed, including the Falls Lake area and can be found for free to download on this same website. There you can also find regular updates on trail reroutes/closures, which is important as the trail is still a work in progress.

As for the Blue Ridge Parkway, there is no camping permitted along the parkway and so this does pose a challenge as well. However there are numerous intersections in which you may hitch or arrange a ride into a nearby town with lodging.

You are correct that the National Forests, such as Pisgah, allow camping most anywhere.

I agree, tent camping is the way to go on this trail at least until you are well into the mountains and camping in the thick of the woods regularly.

Again, if you go to www.ncmst.org you will find a place to contact the Friends. Let them know you are hiking! They were instrumental in offering me suggestions and assistance in thru-hiking the trail. I am a Friend as well and volunteer in helping potential hikers/thru-hikers with questions such as yours. I would be happy to speak with you over the phone or through email but I do not want to leave my contact info here on this page. We are happy to help in whatever way we can. Happy Hiking!!

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