Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST)
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is a 1,175-mile trail that will traverse the state from the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina to Jockey's Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. Partners across the state are helping to plan and build the trail to link communities and serve as the backbone of a growing system of land and water trails in North Carolina.
About 720 miles of dedicated trail - more than half the planned length - have been completed to date and is open for hiking. A series of interim roadway connectors (bicycle routes and back roads) have been identified by the non-profit Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail organization that knit together the completed sections of the MST so that people can hike across the state today. The Friends of MST identify shifts to the road routes as new sections of trail are completed.
There are sections of the MST in Orange County that are already completed and open for public use.
- The Hillsborough Riverwalk, including 3.2 miles along the Eno River in Hillsborough, from Eno Mountain Road to US 70.
- Designated sections of the MST within Eno River State Park, located east of Hillsborough, including 3.9 miles in Orange County.
- West of Hillsborough, a section of trail has opened within Orange County’s Seven Mile Creek Natural Area.
The Friends of MST have developed two alternate connecting Orange County road routes to help MST thru-hikers walk as much of the completed MST as possible. Information about these routes can be found on the Friends of MST website at mountainstoseatrail.org/segment/9/.
The Eventual MST Route in Orange County
Other sections of off-road trail are expected to be completed in the next few years, but the entire length of trail through Orange County will not be completed for a number of years. As is the case for many sections of the state, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a "work in progress," but the ultimate goal is a continuous trail from Clingmans Dome to Jockey's Ridge State Park.
The approved MST route through Orange County (from west to east) begins at the Haw River near Saxapahaw in Alamance County, runs northeast to connect with the Seven Mile Creek Natural Area and Hillsborough Riverwalk, and thence continues east along the Eno River into Eno River State Park where it enters Durham County. As noted above, only portions of the trail along this route are currently in place. A map of the approved route through Orange County may be viewed here.
County staff are working in collaboration with the State Trails Program (a section of the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation), Eno River State Park, the Town of Hillsborough, Friends of Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and others to develop specific plans for completing the MST in Orange County - thereby transitioning the trail planning corridor to an actual "trail alignment."
How Can You Get Involved?
- Contact Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation (DEAPR) at 919-245-2510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at mountainstoseatrail.org/ to volunteer to build trail, sign up for e-news updates, and to support the trail financially.
- Join the Orange County MST Facebook page* at www.facebook.com/OrangeCoMST
*this page is not affiliated with Orange County government.