A unit of the state parks system, the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail is envisioned as the backbone of a network of regional hiking, paddling, and multi-use trails across the state, which could be easily connected to local trail and greenway efforts. Eventually, the trail will link 33 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and offer local access to 40 percent of the state’s population.
The 1,000-mile trail corridor will ultimately link Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. Nearly two-thirds of the cross-state route has been completed as a continuous, off-road trail experience, offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding through some of North Carolina’s most scenic landscapes. Where the trail has not yet been completed, detours along secondary roads allow ambitious hikers to complete the trek.
The completed trail master plan charts a path toward official designation of remaining portions by setting priorities for completing trail sub-sections. The plan unifies regional planning efforts, identifies potential new partners and funding strategies, and establishes guidelines for signs and publicity. Stewart supported overall public involvement and provided design guidance and construction estimating for the plan.