Mountains to Sea Trail

DISTANCE (round-trip)

1175 mi (1891km)



60-120 days


Appalachian Trail


Enjoy All of North Carolina

From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Outer Banks, you'll see nearly all of North Carolina on this 1175 mile trail.

Starting in the sharp mountains of Western North Carolina, you'll enjoy some of the most notoriously beautiful sections of the Appalachian Mountains.

Somewhere between 60 and 120 days later you'll end up with an immersive view of the the Outer Banks area of North Carolina's gorgeous coastline.

Hikers love this trail because it captures some of the most attractive parts of the Appalachian Trail while quickly deviating East from that crowded area. You'll enjoy all that North Carolina has to offer.

When to go

You'd be smart to hike this trail in mid spring or late fall. If you're traveling Eastward the warmer coastal temperatures will help to mellow out a fall hike.

Getting there

You'll want to fly into Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, some 60 miles east of the trail head.

Alternatively you could set down at McGhee-Tyson Airport near Knoxville, TN. for a slightly shorter trip.​

Know before you go

  • In the spring you'll want to hike Westbound, starting from the Outer Banks. Temperatures and crowds in GSMNP make this a preferable route.
  • Depending on your timing, the weather in the mountains may be radically different from the weather in the lower elevations of middle and Eastern North Carolina.
  • GSMNP has strict hiking and camping regulations. Be sure to check in to permits before you go!

For more information:

MTS Trail Photo Contest Entry by Danielle Marple taken from the MTS

MTS Trail Photo Contest Entry by Chris Mulcahy taken from the MTS

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

  • Take some extra power for your camera or phone - you'll have cell reception nearly the whole way!
  • You may want to continue your "hike" on the water once you reach the Outer Banks. They're known for exceptional kayak touring.
About the author

Casey Fiedler

Professional ski instructor and backpacking guide, Casey Fiedler went to school with CWC and NOLS for Outdoor Education and Leadership.Want to read more about what it takes to lead great adventure trips? Casey writes about outdoor education at


Hauling too much crap 
in your backpack?

Use our FREE gear checklist to cut unnecessary weight

  • Learn how to build a 15-pound pack without sacrificing comfort
  • Get a curated list of budget-friendly lightweight gear 
  • Includes free video seminar on how professional guides reduce their pack weight