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Committee celebrates Mountains-to-Sea Trail birthday

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- On a warm, late summer day, Anne Steele joins a loyal group of volunteers as they carry trimmers and rakes into the Cascade Preserve. Despite the heat, humidity and sweat, Steele doesn't mind working in the thick woods.

"It's great to be outside and be in nature," Steele said. "It's therapeutic in a lot of ways."

The high-pitched buzz of a string trimmer echoed across the rural Guilford County forest as other volunteers picked up scissors and rakes to trim young trees and reshape the three-mile trail. Located outside of Oak Ridge, the trail is a dirt path that follows the rolling Piedmont terrain. The hiking trail is just a small link in the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the sandy dunes at the Outer Banks, the trail stretches over 1,100 miles.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is getting ready to celebrate its 42nd birthday. Joel Deaton is the Western Guilford Mountains-to-Sea Trail Task Force leader. He explained that cleaning up their section of trail will help people participate in the celebration.

"A lot of people haven't tried it yet," Deaton said. "If they get out and try it, it's a hard habit to break and you shouldn't break it."

Oak Ridge, along with 26 other cities, will celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail's birthday on Saturday. The Oak Ridge Mountains-to-Sea Trail Committee is inviting the public to meet them at the Cascade Preserve at 9 a.m. Cascade Preserve is on Goodwill Church Road in Kernersville. From the parking lot, committee leaders will take visitors along the path that's easy to walk.

"It's good for kids and pets, many older people walk the trail with no problem," Steele said. "It's a beautiful area to view the cascades."

Deaton said the cascading waterfall is a sight to behold.

"It has an unusual stream that cascades down rocks," Deaton said. "You don't see a lot of that in this county."

In the future, the Oak Ridge Mountains-to-Sea Trail Committee will extend their trail to the Haw River. Another trail will then connect hikers to established walking paths at Oak Ridge Town Park. Deaton believes the plan will be a plus for Oak Ridge.

"Oak Ridge wants the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to come through Oak Ridge thinking it would be a trail town like Damascus is on the Appalachian Trail or Elkin on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail," Deaton said.

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