GetHiking! In Search of Spring on the MST

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• What we'll do
It's early, but the recent run of wet weather and temperatures above 70 means it's time to start watching for spring wildflowers, a key sign that season is soon to change. This five-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is especially good for yielding early signs of spring, with plenty of sun-soaking meadows and fringe hardwood forest. We'll be especially vigilant for the spring beauty and trout lily. This hike begins and ends off Red Mill Road, but it's not a loop. Rather, a crescent; we'll gather at the northern end of the crescent, where the MST crosses the road just south of the Eno River. Parking will be along a gravel road just to the east of Red Mill Road. We'll then shuttle a couple miles to the southern end of the crescent, where Ellerbee Creek crosses Red Mill Road.

This stretch can be soggy; hiking boots are recommended. The forecast a week out suggests season-appropriate weather: temperatures in the mid-50s under mostly sunny skies.

• What to bring
Bring at least a liter of water for this hike. And, again, hiking boots to better cope with the soggy stretches.

• Important to know