At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

New Mountain-to-Sea Trail section now open at Waterrock Knob

out waterrockA new section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is now complete, a 2.2-mile section that roughly parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County from Waterrock Knob east to Fork Ridge Overlook.

The section took volunteers with the Carolina Mountain Club six years to build and 5,800 hours of work. There’s more work to do west of Waterrock Knob, but volunteer trail crews are confident they can finish that in 2015. 

Volunteer trail builders with the Carolina Mountain Club have been steadily chipping away at a missing link of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Haywood-Jackson county line in the Balsams for more than a decade. Hikers were forced to depart from the footpath and walk the Blue Ridge Parkway for several miles before rejoining trail.

Trail crews tackling this missing link not only had to muster the man hours to build the new sections, but also had to work with public land agencies to find a suitable route.

The section around Waterrock Knob was one of the final legs in the long journey to bridge the gap of the missing link, creating a continuous stretch of Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the state line in the Smokies to Stone Mountain State Park north of Boone — hikers won’t encounter another missing link until they begin the descent to the Piedmont. Carolina Mountain Club oversees a 150 mile section of the 1,000-mile trail.

Go to top