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Mountains-to-Sea Trail Section Hikes

It's a dream of mine to hike the entirety of the 1,100+ mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail through North Carolina.  With one end anchored in the Great Smoky Mountains and the other at the famous Jockey's Ridge in the Outer Banks, this amazing trail showcases the dizzying variety of The Old North State.  Unfortunately my time has passed for a thru-hike of the trail but, hopefully, section-by-section I can slowly accomplish my goal.  In these albums you'll be able to join me on my quest...


Adventure Log:  210.3 miles


Each of the galleries below have two numbers in parenthesis alongside their name. The first is the TOTAL MILEAGE of the route, the second is what I’m calling the “Petzoldt Rating” of DIFFICULTY. Developed by Paul Petzoldt, founder of NOLS, this rating system is the best I’ve found for standardizing the difficulty of hikes. It works as follows: One ‘energy unit’ is given for very mile travelled on flat terrain. You then add one more ‘energy unit’ for every 500-feet of elevation gain. For example, a one mile hike with 1,000-feet of gain would give you a rating of 3.00. Consequently a two mile hike with only 500-feet of gain would also give you a rating of 3.00. Please note, however, these ratings do not take into account weather, rough terrain, fitness level, etc. I’ve divided levels of difficulty into five levels, based on the following Petzoldt difficulty ranges:

0.00-2.49=EASY;

2.50-4.99=MODERATE;

5.00-7.49=CHALLENGING;

7.50-9.99=HARD;

10.00-12.49=VERY HARD;

12.50 & up=EXTREME

MST Section Hikes by Difficulty Rating


Elkin to Pilot Mountain State Park  (34.80)

Oconaluftee Visitor Center to Docks Gap  (20.70)

Old Bald to Haywood Gap  (19.00)

Traphill Ridge Road to Carter Falls  (17.60)

BRP Visitor Center to Bull Gap  (15.10)

NC-215 to Cherry Cove Overlook  (14.80)

Cherry Cove Overlook to Pisgah Inn  (14.60)

Mt. Mitchell State Park to South Toe Trailhead  (13.60)

French Broad River to BRP Visitor Center  (13.40)

Old Bald to Balsam Gap  (12.70)


Pisgah Inn to Bent Creek Gap  (11.80)

Docks Gap to Waterrock Knob  (11.40)

Waterrock Knob to Balsam Gap  (10.50)

Bent Creek Gap to French Broad River  (10.40)

Craggy Gardens to Balsam Gap  (10.30)


Craggy Gardens to Bull Gap  (9.10)

Haywood Gap to NC-215  (8.30)

Carter Falls to Elkin  (8.10)

Balsam Gap to Mt. Mitchell State Park  (8.00)


Dobson Knob to Pinnacle  (6.60)

Table Rock to Shortoff Mountain  (6.60)

Clingmans Dome to Fork Ridge  (5.40)