The MST - its a thing, a pretty awesome thing! Its a trail that spans across the state of North Carolina - from the Mountains to the sea! (Mountain to sea Trail = MST). It has sections for trail, greenway, roads and a blueway! ( whats a blueway you ask? its a greenway but in water!)
|Trail Stats | |
|Milage | 18.5 |
|Time | 7 hours |
| Parking | Yes |
| Elevation Gain | ~4000 (by my watch) |
We've talked about it in some previous posts and hiked along some small sections as well. And as we have found some free time lately due to Covid-19 , we have taken to try and knock out some more small sections that are closer to home. And luckily for us, there is a good 80 or so mile segment that passes right from Durham to North East Raleigh. Since campgrounds are still closed and we live close, we decided to make a few day hikes out of it to scratch those areas off the list. This being the first of that segment. In all honesty, Kristen and I both enjoy the hikes where the payoffs include beautiful mountain top views, and since we knew this one was not going to provide that we had kinda low expectations.
Mapping it out - we planned to go from parking area to parking area and it was looking like this hike was going to be a long one. What we didn't count on is the parking area at pleasant green being closed - meaning we had to park at Fews Ford and walk another three miles to the trail head.
> **Pro-tip**: Parking anywhere that is not the designated parking area WILL get you a ticket - on this day we saw nearly 10 cars getting a ticket for parking on the side of the road.
As we started along, the trail hikes alongside the Eno River going up and down with a majority down elevation. The river gives you a great view and helps to cool down the entire hike which was much welcomed to us as the NC humidity was starting to roll in on this day.
![blogPics](/static/img/161/start.jpg "Beginning of hike")
We saw quite a lot of wildlife as well, including some blacksnakes, rat snakes, chipmunks , squirrels, deer, cranes and turtles.
The trail is well marked for the most part. The only troubles we had were at the sections where the trail crossed over some main roads.
- Guess Road - cross the bridge on the same side of the road as where you are on the trail. No need to cross the busy road.
- N. Roxboro St. - there is some construction to put in a nice path that eventually crosses a nice metal pedestrian bridge - don't cross it. The MST trail picks up in the wooded area close to the river. There was a faint blaze on a nearby tree we missed the first time.
As we hit the 12 mile marker, our feet were really starting to feel the miles as we were both wearing some fairly older shoes where the support wasn't as good as it once was and there were several big rock sections that came along to help. But the views of the river was brilliant and the heavily wooded area helped to drown out the traffic (Covid also helped on this front) and it was super easy to have a pleasant journey.
![blogPics](/static/img/161/danger.jpg "Pump Station Warning")
The MST also followed the "pump station trail" for quite a while and eventually we found ourselves at the ruins of Durham's original water pump, which was neat.
![blogPics](/static/img/161/pumpstation.jpg "Pump Station")
Not to mention we discovered a ton of new watering holes we never knew existed! There were so many spots along the river where people were hanging out, hammocking, swimming, and tubing.
![blogPics](/static/img/161/swimminghole.jpg "Swimming Hole")
At one point I turned to Kristen and said that I thought we were hiking on an old forgotten trail of the past. In my opinion this made the trail feel more adventurous. At some points we were walking across grass fields and we lost the trail once or twice (the white blazes were on trees in a forested area to the right). Be sure to pay attention here.
![blogPics](/static/img/161/grass.jpg "Grass Field")
Towards the end of the hike we were approaching the Penny's Bend Nature reserve which is where we parked our second vehicle for extraction. At this point the beautiful weather had had enough and the storm clouds rolled in and we finished the last three miles in a pretty good rain storm. I don't think either of us complained though as it was really a welcomed event and again in my opinion made the hike a bit more mesmerizing. I Enjoyed it even more so with the rain as it just felt like the perfect add on for the adventure I was looking for.
As we made our way back out to the parking lot, we did a little victory dance and made our way home to cook a well deserved dinner. ( we kind of cheated and got some smoothies to help hold us over though). But we were both pleased with the hike and couldn't have asked for a better time. Its well worth the effort and though it sounds long the trail flattens out on the last 10 or so miles which made the going very easy and fast. Give it a shot - even if its a smaller section and let us know what you think!
![blogPics](/static/img/161/usandriver.jpg "Eno River")