Hikers hoping to explore a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail without lugging an overnight pack can now consult a detailed series of online day hike guides.
The new guides focus on three sections of the 1,000-mile trail, including the 60-mile Falls Lake Trail. The guide for Falls Lake features 18 day hikes that range from shorter than 1 mile to 7 miles, while most are between 2 and 3 miles.
The information for each day hike includes distance, degree of difficulty, connecting trails, descriptions of the trails, photos and maps.
For example, an overview of the Falls Lake day hikes notes the diversity of the trails. A hiker who covers all 60 miles can encounter coves, beech-tree groves, hardwood forest, pine and holly. The names of the trails, including Flipped Car, Blue Jay Point and The Swamp Connection, give an indication of what each offers or where it is.
Kate Dixon, executive director of Friends of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail, said day hikers make up the vast majority of the trail’s users. The guides are designed to make hiking easier for them and also to attract draw in people who may not realize how close they are to the trail.
“These are really special places, and people don’t always know that they’re there,” she said.
In addition to the Falls Lake guide, the organization released guides for the Eno River near Durham and the northern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those guides include five-day hikes and 15-day hikes, respectively.
The organization is developing a guide for the Neusiok section of the trail in eastern North Carolina and has plans to complete guides for other highlights of the trails during the next two years.
Dixon said the organization also is exploring creation of a mobile app.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.
The guides are available at ncmst.org.