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Mountains-to-Sea Trail Dedication Sept. 9

OTWAY — Nature enthusiasts are encouraged to join the North Carolina Coastal Federation at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the 10-mile segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail through the North River Wetlands Preserve.

After the ribbon cutting, guests are invited to hike, run or bike all or part of the new trail as part of the “MST in a Day” event. MST in a Day is a statewide event to celebrate and hike parts of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail throughout the state.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a state trail that runs from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. The NC Trails Program, which is part of the North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation, is partnering with the federation to route the state trail through the 6,000-acre preserve.

“The North Carolina Coastal Federation is excited to serve as a host to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Hikers will have the opportunity to explore more of the great diversity of our coast,” said Sam Bland, coastal specialist for the federation.

Since 1999, the federation and its multiple partners, members and community volunteers have been working to preserve and restore North River Wetlands Preserve from farmland back to forested, freshwater and tidal wetlands. This wetland restoration project is one of the largest in North Carolina and among the largest of its kind in the nation, the press release stated.

The restored wetlands provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, and more than 240 bird species have been recorded at the site. The preserve is ideal for birding, wildlife spotting, biking and walking. Visitors will often see deer, turtles and snakes and the occasional glimpse of bobcats, turkeys, quail, coyotes and river otters.

Participants should meet at the entrance gate to the preserve on N River Farms Road in Otway by 9:45 a.m. to check in. Participants should wear weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable shoes for hiking, running or biking, and bring bug spray, sunscreen and water. Water and snacks will also be provided at the event. The 10-mile segment that routes through the preserve will not be open to hikers until the Sept. 9 event.

Registration is required. Contact Sam Bland at 252-393-8185 or with any questions.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.