On Saturday morning, August 20th at 9:15, walkers gathered at Lawson Creek Park, patiently waiting for the rest of the group to gather to begin walking the New Bern portion of the MST-New Bern trail at 9:30. Over 40 people from Craven and surrounding counties participated in the walk. An early morning rain turned to partly cloudy skies, offering some relief from the seasonal North Carolina August heat.
Once all the walkers arrived, this stunning view from Lawson Creek Park was the first of many vistas and panoramas greeting the group.
After a short walk from Lawson Creek Park, we stopped on Walt Bellemy Drive for a group photo at the beginning of the New Bern portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. This is also one of three entrances to Leander Morgan Park, a seven acre park named for the 1st and only Black Mayor of New Bern. The park provides an oasis between businesses, housing and the banks of Lawson Creek.
Many of the houses along Walt Bellamy Drive were built by Habitat for Humanity with owners contributing labor or "sweat equity" in place of capital contribution. The Leander Morgan Park offers an idyllic environment for city dwellers.
Enjoying the natural beauty of Leander Morgan Park, Michael Schachter, Carolina Nature Coalition President, led the group through the lush greenscape. As if part of the landscape, a wooden fishing pier stretches out into Lawson Creek, allowing visitors a quiet, peaceful view of the creek, marina, and picturesque city of New Bern.
As the sun began to peak through the clouds, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail walkers rounded the bend at Palace Point Commons. To the left, the Tryon Palace sits in grandeur overlooking the grounds that stretch out to the Trent River. Around the bend is the North Carolina History Center, the end of the trail for some of the walkers.
Arriving only minutes before opening, the MST walkers stand in the shade of the North Carolina History Center where cool A/C and water fountains inside allow time to linger and recharge.
After a brief respite, Jim Grode, Trail Resource Manager for Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, led the remaining walkers to Union Point Park, the end of the New Bern portion of the MST while other walkers continued on to the Farmers' Market or retraced steps to Lawson Creek Park where the walk began.
From Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks, the New Bern portion of the nearly 1200 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a lovely walk anyone can enjoy.