Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Mountains-to-Sea Trail Pisgah NF section
Display Avatars Sort By:
Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Mountains-to-Sea Trail Pisgah NF section on 01/30/2010 16:06:03 MST Print View

Is anyone here familiar with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail through the Pisgah National Forest?

I am thinking about hiking from MST Section 8 (BRP Folk Art Center) through Section 13 (Blowing Rock) ~140 miles. Plan is for no more than 9 days which ends up being no less than 15 miles per day -- very reasonable. This will either be around Memorial Day or Independence Day.

Can anyone comment on navigation in this area? In my experience in the area navigation can be difficult and there is private land and NPS land scattered all throughout.

I am wondering how realistic it is to complete this hike with legal camping spots falling 18(+/-)5 miles away from each other.

Also, can anyone comment on the better time to go - Memorial Day or Independence Day? Certainly Memorial Day would be cooler, but I'm not sure how lush the area is by that time of year.

Many thanks!

alan york
(alanyork9) - MLife

/ on 01/30/2010 16:39:31 MST Print View


Edited by alanyork9 on 12/25/2010 17:55:36 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail Pisgah NF section on 01/30/2010 18:55:01 MST Print View

Craig, I would vote for Memorial Day not July 4th. Here is a picture from the Pisgah in Memorial Day was pretty lush. This is at a lower elevation, at the higher elevation the leaves were just breaking bud. The nice thing is without the leaves fully out the views are much nicer.


During that weekend I hiked in shorts with short sleeves. In the morning I added a wind shirt. The low temp one night did get to a surprising 38 degrees. The weather was perfect for hiking. July would be too hot for me.

As Alan suggesting the Backpacker Trekking book is pretty good.


Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail Pisgah NF section on 01/31/2010 06:12:41 MST Print View

The problem through the first section (from the Arts Center past the road up to Mt. Mitchell)is the trail is mostly in the Blue Ridge Parkway area and camping is not allowed. There is one site (mentioned in the previously mentioned Trekking guide) between Craggy Pinacle and Craggy Dome out on Sprucepine ridge where the trail swings out onto Forest Service land. You might need to hit that the first night and then you should be fine until maybe the very north end near Boone when it hits the Parkway again.

I second Memorial Day (not the actual weekend if you can avoid it, too many people)better weather and views.

Edited by abhitt on 01/31/2010 06:13:41 MST.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
MST Section Hike on 01/31/2010 13:28:01 MST Print View

Hello Craig,

I miss Utah too!

I 3rd Jamie and Alex on Memorial Day! Should be really green, Azaleas and other flowers; the full flush of Appalachian Spring.

This link might help:

Also This one: is not working at present and hopefully is just going through a site tuneup or server problems or something because it is/was? a really good site for all info on the Gorge.

Looks like some "issues" are:

1. Where to camp night one. The MST crosses the parkway boundary as mentioned by Alex near the side trails for Snowball or Douglass Falls

"There is one site (mentioned in the previously mentioned Trekking guide) between Craggy Pinacle and Craggy Dome out on Sprucepine ridge where the trail swings out onto Forest Service land." but note there has been Bear activity in that area due to the presence I guess of the picnic area at Craggy Gardens so be prepared!

Once you reach Balsam Gap you leave behind the problem of having the trail so restricted to the nearby parkway and no camping. There's a spot about another 15 miles past the first overnight area and @ 4 miles past Balsam Gap where the MST leaves the high ridge from Blackstock to Potato Knob and switchbacks down to circle @ Potato Knob. After the switchbacks down the trail slabs ESE on a rough built trail with a lot of over-hanging rock walls with seeps, springs and streamlets. You emerge from the woods and wet rock walls to a scenic spot with great views SSE and just enough of a flat spot to camp, lots of flat rocks for "furniture" and water just back up the trail. This is just before an area where the trail is completely built of levered rock slabs on the S side of Potato. ( a pretty amazing bit of work ) Might be in the Parkway boundary but no one is coming up there that isn't on the MST.

2. Fording Linville River: I wouldn't take this for granted. Hopefully the Linville Gorge site will re-appear or the MST trail site has suggestions of how to check out this situation.

3. Lots of stream crossings throughout the Wilson Creek area. A world of streams and waterfalls. You might also want to get a copy of this map. It's a maze of trails from Table Rock to the parkway back at Grandfather Mt. The MST is usually well marked but things can get confusing.

The hike down the Woods Mountain Ridge will be dry and also the trail from the Linville River Ford to Table Rock unless you count the weird pond on top of Shortoff. The whole ridge from Shortoff to Table Rock, the Chimneys etc sort of reminds me of the mesas south of Cortez CO on the Mancos in the Ute Tribal Park. I guess because Shortoff is sort of like a mesa and the whole section is ( for NC ) pretty dry.

Edited by obxcola on 02/01/2010 18:52:50 MST.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: MST Section Hike on 02/05/2010 21:55:11 MST Print View


You guys are great (as always)!

I think I'll do this the week of Memorial Day this year and shorten my Western trip.

It's tough to find true wilderness in NC, but I think Pisgah is as good as its going to get for being less than 2 hours from me.

Still waiting for that 40+ mile weekend Southeast BPL trip. I know it's been talked about before, but I'm not sure if it's ever come to fruition.

It seems I'm so strapped for time these days that I hardly ever make it on here very often. If something ever does get ironed out, someone please send me a PM so I can try to plan to make it out.

Thanks again.