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Tuesday was a busy day in Bladen County. Business leaders took time off from work and the election polls to attend the monthly Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Lunch.

Ben Jones, Coastal Cresent Project Manager with the Mountains to the Sea Trail was there to present information about the trail coming through Bladen County. The MTS provides trail allowing hikers to complete a hiking trip across the state of North Carolina, from the mountains to the sea.

There will be parts of the trail at Jones Lake, Singletary Lake, and White Lake.

“Work is really just starting here,” Jones stated.

Currently the trail is 1175 miles with 680 miles of trails, unpaved forest road, beach, and
495 miles of road. The goal is for the MST to be 100% trail.

“We are working steadily to shift road portions to trail,” Jones said.

Friends of MST is a 501(c)3 nonprofit volunteer group with a board of 15 people.

Mr. Carl Deandrade a business owner from White Lake, is a board member of the MTS.

Mr. DeAndrea said, “My goal is to get people to walk.”

There are over 800 volunteers and they build and maintain 530 miles, according to Jones.
There are 24 volunteer “task forces” which are the primary source to help distribute information about trail, raise money and advocate for trail.

In 2020 a book will be published featuring the trail, including the portion in Bladen County. There is a plan for the trail to wrap around the north and south part of White Lake, Mr. Jones explained. There will be a trail from Turnbull Creek all the way to Sweet Home Church Road.

“Turnbull Creek is a beautiful, beautiful part of the county,” Jones said.

If you would like to join the Friends of MTS or learn more about the trail visit, https://mountainstoseatrail.org

President of the Chamber, Jennifer Leggett thanked Mr. Jones for the presentation and presented him with a box from Burney’s Sweets & More.

Today, Mrs. Leggett announced the the Town of Elizabethtown will be hosting its second annual Grape Escape bike ride this weekend. On September 14, the bike ride will be starting and ending at the Cape Fear Winery.

“The route will take you on a scenic tour around the Bladen County area with stops along the way at the Lu Mil Vineyard and other water stops,” Cameron T. West, CEU with the  Town of Elizabethtown said.

The ride will begin at 9 am and will last until everyone has completed their ride.

“We will have two routes setup, one of which is the metric century which will be a 60 mile ride and the other being the half metric which will be a 30 mile ride. Both routes will have a $45 registration fee and will come with a Grape Escape T-Shirt and goodie bag for participants,” West explained.

After the ride is over riders will receive a meal voucher from the Cape Fear Winery.

You can find the registration forms at this link https://www.elizabethtownnc.org/the-grape-escape. Completed registration forms can be emailed to cwest@elizabethtownnc.org. Payment can be received on arrival by check, cash or also by phone. If you have any questions feel free to contact Cameron West at (910) 862-2066.

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