Celebrate the 42nd Birthday of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on September 7 with a Special Guided Hike | Cherokee, NC

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Celebrate the 42nd Birthday of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on September 7 with a Special Guided Hike

As part of the 42nd birthday celebration of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), 27 trail towns across the state—including Cherokee—are hosting special guided hikes. The MST birthday hike in Cherokee will take place on Saturday, September 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, at 1194 Newfound Gap Road. The Cherokee hike is the farthest hike west on the 1,175-mile statewide trail. 

The hike will be led by Friends of the MST's Trail Resource Manager and guidebook author, Jim Grode. Exploring this area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the hike highlights Cherokee culture, beauty, and history. Beginning at the park's Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the hike follows the Oconaluftee River Trail, past several interpretive panels featuring information about Cherokee culture and Cherokees relationship to the river. It continues on to the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of mostly 19th-century farm buildings gathered from locations throughout the park, and along the Oconaluftee River, where elk are frequently spotted. 

(Oconaluftee River Trail | Photo by msjuliediane)

After returning to the Visitor Center, the hike will continue a short distance on the wide grassy shoulder of US 441 to the Mingus Creek trailhead, where hikers can see a working grist mill. From here, the hike continues on a natural surface trail along a beautiful creek for as far as hikers wish to go (after about 2.5 miles, the Trail leaves the creek and becomes steeper). After returning to the starting point, hikers are encouraged to explore the exhibits and shop at the Visitor Center at their leisure. The hike is kid-friendly. Dogs are welcome on the Oconaluftee River Trail, but are not allowed on the Mingus Creek Trail.

(Mountain Farm Museum | Photo by jasmine.explores)

The Cherokee MST Birthday Hike is a great opportunity for hikers to learn about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, explore Cherokee and learn more about its rich history, and to connect with trail communities across the state.

Cherokee Hike Details


Free, although hikers are encouraged to buy a shirt or contribute to help Friends of the MST continue to build, protect, and promote the Trail so that all can enjoy it for years to come. 


Please register here. There are only a few spots left for this special guided hike in Cherokee, but you can always hike on your own anytime on the trail from September 6 through 8. 


Oconaluftee River Trail and Mingus Creek Trail, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (MST Segment 1, Eastbound Miles 24.2 to 28.0).


Meet at 9:30 am on Saturday, September 7.

Length of Hike

The out-and-back format provides options ranging from 1.4 to 7.6 miles or more.



Meeting Location

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 1194 Newfound Gap Road, Cherokee, NC 28719; N35.51288, W83.30665.

Hike Leader

Jim Grode, jgrode@mountainstoseatrail.org

About the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring together communities and volunteers to build, protect, and promote the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which connects North Carolina’s natural treasures and communities. The Trail itself is 1,175 miles, and spans from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks. 

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