Trail Run Project Logo

Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Segment 5



89.0 mile 143.2 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 8,974' 2,735 m
Descent: -9,790' -2,984 m
High: 4,670' 1,423 m
Low: 2,835' 864 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Jim Grode

The High Country: Beacon Heights to Devil’s Garden Overlook

Jim Grode

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Section Of

Need to Know

Camping on BRP/NPS land is limited to designated, approved areas. It is illegal to camp along the MST on these lands unless there is signage allowing camping or if you have a proper permit on other approved land.


Traveling eastbound, this section begins at Beacon Heights and follows the Tanawha Trail as it travels along the base of Grandfather Mountain, which is one of only 553 certified biosphere reserves in the world. It continues past the resort town of Blowing Rock, travels near West Jefferson, and ends near Sparta in the northwest corner of N.C. near the Virginia border.

Most of this trail is well-marked with the MST blaze—a 3” white circle. Where the MST runs conjunctively with the Tanawha Trail, the Tanawha Trail uses a white feather as signage. The section that follows carriage trails in Moses H. Cone Memorial Park has good signage but limited reference to MST. The Boone Fork Trail (BFT) near Price Park Campground uses an orange diamond. Bluff Mountain Trail (BMT) is maintained primarily by the National Park Service.

There are several different locations using the name Boone Fork. Make sure you get the right location when looking for a specific site. Don’t confuse Upper Boone Fork Trail along the Tanawha Trail section with Boone Fork Trail in Price Park.

The nearby towns of Linville, Blowing Rock, Boone, West Jefferson, and Sparta offer all amenities. They also make it easy to break this segment into several day trips.

For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Land Manager: Blue Ridge Parkway

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In



Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes


in Grandfather


  4.6 from 5 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Trail Rankings


in Grandfather


in North Carolina


63 Views Last Month
4,419 Since Apr 5, 2016



Snow Covered MST Sign. Rime ice and snow covered the entrance to the MST in March. Taken across from the Thunder Hill Overlook, the ice clung to the sign and the fence post and barbed wire.
Dec 7, 2015 near Blowing…, NC
Boone Fork Creek.
Oct 9, 2016 near Foscoe, NC
Brinegar Cabin. Photo by Jonah Unks.
Apr 6, 2016 near Sparta, NC
Autumn sunrise over Trout Lake in Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on MST Segment 5. Photo by Victor Ellison.
Apr 6, 2016 near Blowing…, NC
Goshen Creek on MST Segment 5. Photo by Shelton Wilder.
Apr 6, 2016 near Boone, NC
Water trickles down Hebron Falls.
Mar 26, 2017 near Foscoe, NC


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running