Development of the Coastal Crescent Trail, North Carolina’s newest major hiking route, took a big step forward with the recent release of a Strategic Plan by the sponsoring organization, Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The 270-mile trail traverses the diverse and beautiful landscape and welcoming communities of the southeastern Coastal Plain in Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender and Onslow counties.
“Hikers are already starting to follow the Coastal Crescent to explore this wonderful part of North Carolina. The plan will help us enhance their experience by building new off-road trail and providing amenities like campsites, and we expect that these travelers will bring tourism dollars to the area,” said Kate Dixon, executive director of the Friends group.
Kipling “Kip” Godwin, a southeastern North Carolina native and project coordinator for the CCT Plan added, “We appreciate the help of everyone who participated in developing the plan, including elected officials, stakeholders, public land managers, and the general public.”
The planning process was funded by the Duke Energy Foundation, and Destination by Design, a Boone-based planning firm, provided technical expertise.
The Coastal Crescent Trail was developed by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to provide a way for MST hikers to explore the southeastern part of North Carolina. The route traverses the “Cape Fear Arch” and “Onslow Bight,” recognized as two of the most biologically diverse areas in the United States. The goal of the plan is to provide vision and guidance to develop new off-road sections of trail and to meet the needs of hikers – whether out for a day hike, weekend trip, or long distance trek – for lodging, camping, supplies and activities.
Dixon noted that, now that the strategic plan has been finalized, the Friends staff and board representatives will work closely with staff from the NC Division of Parks and Recreation to incorporate this plan into the overall master plan for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
The Coastal Crescent was officially designated as part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail by a unanimous vote of the N.C. General Assembly (S244/H361) in June 2017. This designation means that the planning and development of the trail route is now a cooperative project of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.