Mountain to Sea Trail, NC

From Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockeys Ridge on the outer banks, North Carolina is building the 1200 mile Mountain to Sea Trail. While I lived in the state I tried to section hike as much as the trail as possible. I hiked the Clingman’s Dome section as it follows the walkway off the mountain to an intersection with the Appalachian Trail. I hiked the section Through E.B Jeffress Park I have hiked the section through Stone Mountain State Park. I have hiked most of the trail through Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks. I hiked the section at Occoneechee State Natural Area and Occoneechee Speedway and I hiked the section through Eno River State Park. but the Biggest section was the 93 miles From Eno River State Park along Falls Lake and the Neuse River.

trail marker

I say I hiked that section but full disclosure, the 33 miles from Falls Lake Dam to Clayton N.C. were paved so I biked it. But at the dam the pavement ends so I began to section hike the trail. As I said in the introduction page to this blog, after my heart problem I began to walk and ride the local trails. The biggest and longest was the Neuse River Trail and the Clayton Riverwalk which were one in the same. The name changed when it crossed the county line. My ultimate goal was to reach the Falls Lake Dam on the paved trail, on my bike.

The tailrace at Falls Lake dam.
The Neuse River as it leaves Falls Lake.

I tried to hike from trailhead to trailhead. But since I was doing this alone that meant out and back since I had to finish where I started. One day I ended up going almost 17 miles!.

This huge rock was not far down th trail from the dam.

By far my favorite section was from Falls Dam to the Possum Track trailhead. The trail spent a lot of time along the lake and passed through the Nutbush Creek Fault line.

Falls Lake

Falls Lake was constructed in 1981 as a reservoir for Raleigh and Wake County, and for flood control on the Neuse River. It extends 28 miles to the confluence of the Eno, Little and Flat rivers and covers over 12,000 acres. It is built over the fall line between the piedmont plateau and the coastal plain. In this section you also cross over the Nutbush Creek Fault line. This fault line is of the same type as the San Andreas fault line just older. It has been traced from Richmond Virginia to the Cape Fear River at Lillington NC.

Nutbush Creek Fault in unnamed creek near Raven Ridge

I had a favorite spot out here also, at the Honeycutt Creek inlet. I stopped here for lunch a couple times (yes I did this section more then once). It was relaxing sitting out on the rocks and watching the wildlife etc in this inlet.

Honeycutt Creek inlet

My longest day on the trail was 17 miles from Rollingview Recreation area to the Cheek Road Trailhead. It was 8.5 miles each way.

Early morning start at the Rollingview Rec Area.
Beautiful area near Lick Creek.

In the middle of the Lick Creek Bridge I hit 4.2 miles which was the turnaround point for this particular day hike according to the trail guide. But there is no trailhead here. So I hiked on.

The Lick Creek Bridge

The Lick Creek Bridge was quite a walk. Barely wide enough for one person I felt like I was about to fall off at any time. I went on to the Cheek Road Trailhead another 4.3 miles and ate lunch. Then I headed back toward Rollingview. The day ended up being 17 miles!.

As I moved west the hike became more urban in nature, With major road crossings, billboards and Highways. I even skirted around a small airport.

The Marina at Rollingview
Airport

Then I began to hear traffic, a lot of traffic. And I passed under a billboard.

After the billboard it was through the rabbit hole under I-85.

The rabbit hole

As I exited the rabbit hole and continued I entered back into a more rural area. I was nearing the end of the lake where the Eno, Flat and Little Rivers converged along with Upper Barton Creek. It was really hard to tell which river was which as the whole area that wasn’t the trail seemed to be water.

my view after the rabbit hole.

Thinking I was back in the wilderness I came across a railroad track, obviously one that is being used.

Then I started up the Eno River. There were some old factory type buildings and an old railroad trestle.

Abandoned trestle

This trail was so diverse over these 60 miles. I saw old farms, old cars, so many nice picturesque streams, and several farm ponds.

Part of the trail even followed abandoned NC Route 98 which was relocated when the dam was built.

One of dozens of picturesque stream along this section of the Mountain to Sea Trail
old farm pond
Old farm Building
Anyone need a car. It’s slightly used
section of the paved trail. I was riding through here
Directional sign at Anderson Point Park in Raleigh
Suspension Bridge on the Neuse River Trail/ Mountains to Sea Trail
One of numerous small waterfalls on the Mountain to Sea Trail
Falls Lake

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