Outdoor adventure is abundant in North Carolina and especially around Chetola Resort. One of our favorite and less well-known spots to explore in the area is the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). The Mountains to Sea Trail is North Carolina’s state hiking trail. Stretching 1175 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, the Mountains to Sea Trail traverses some of the most beautiful spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Read below to explore some of our favorite sections of the MST near Chetola Resort!
Stack Rock Overlook (Milepost 304.8)
From the Stack Rock parking area along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hop on the Tanawha Trail and Mountains to Sea Trail heading North to reach Stack Rock. Upon reaching Stack Rock you will come upon a natural rock formation of a rock pillar and enjoy views of the mountains beyond. From this point you can continue along the MST/Tanawha Trail for as long as you’d like, or you can turn around and head back to the Overlook.
The trail to Stack Rock is not long, but it can be somewhat strenuous with big rocks and steep climbs to get to the rock formation. Please use caution and come prepared with the correct footwear and gear.
Rich Mountain (Start at Trout Lake or Shulls Mill Road)
To find this section of the MST, follow Shull’s Mill Road from Blowing Rock, just past Trout Lake until you see a gate and a small parking area. Follow the gravel carriage trail up and then signs for Rich Mountain.
Attached to the Moses Cone Memorial Park Trail System, the Rich Mountain Carriage Trail follows the MST for about 1 mile before you can choose to continue following the Mountains to Sea Trail as far as you want to go or continue up the trail to the peak of Rich Mountain (about another 1.5 miles).
The path up to Rich Mountain is a very gentle climb along a gravel carriage trail with multiple views along the way in mountain side meadows. At the summit, savor views of the surrounding mountains like Grandfather Mountain and Flat Top Mountain along with the historic stonework from when the Cones enjoyed the property.
If you want more time on this section of the MST, extend your hike by starting at Trout Lake and then hiking up to the peak of Rich Mountain.
**If parking area is full, please park at Trout Lake or find another spot to hike for the day. Do not park on the road or block road from Trout Lake.
Raven’s Rock Overlook (Milepost 289.5)
After enjoying the view from Raven’s Rock, you can follow the MST from this overlook by finding the trail to the left or right side of the parking lot. The right-side section of the trail is along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the left side is through the trees from the parking lot.
If you take the MST to the right, enjoy traversing through cow fields and forests with views of mountain ranges in the distance. If you take the trail to the left, you’ll enjoy a forested hike and eventually come out to views of panoramic mountain ranges.
*Park at the Raven Rock Overlook area to enjoy this section of the MST.
Some of the best adventures are the ones that are off the beaten trail. We hope that you’ll be able to discover some new adventures and make wonderful memories down the Mountains to Sea Trail on your next visit to Chetola Resort.
Reminders for hiking:
*Follow Outdoor NC’s and Leave No Trace’s 7 principles for recreating in the outdoors https://www.visitnc.com/outdoornc
**Leave what you find. Do not pick, rip, or trample flowers or plants. Take only photos.
***Please remember when exploring these beautiful trails to leave the area better than you found it so that others can enjoy its natural beauty.