ROSEBORO — North Carolina native Jennifer Pharr-Davis has been on many journeys in her life, but her most recent hike has her right in the heart of Sampson County.
Pharr-Davis, a long-distance hiker, has been hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and spent the weekend along a portion of that trail that travels through Sampson County.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a 1,150-mile trek through North Carolina that beings in the mountains, along the Appalachian Trail, and meanders its way through the state, ending in Jockey’s Ridge on the coast. The trail allows hikers and bicyclists to explore some of the most beautiful agricultural areas of North Carolina, including a part of Sampson County.
The portion of the trail through Sampson County is known as the Coastal Crescent Trail, which recently won the approval of the North Carolina General Assembly to be recognized by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
“I am from North Carolina and I have always wanted to do this trail,” Pharr-Davis said.
Pharr-Davis began her journey Aug. 15 on the Tennessee border. Along the way, she shared, her family, including her husband and two children, has joined in for parts of the trail. There has been some camping along the way, other times she has stayed with friends or host families in the area she is hiking.
There is one month left in the three-month journey.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the trail, and Pharr-Davis said there has been an abundance of cool and interesting things throughout the state.
Several years ago, while looking for adventure, the long-distance hiker decided to give the Appalachian Trail a chance, and she says she is glad she did.
“A five-month journey along the Appalachian Trail changed my life in a good way,” Pharr-Davis explained.
According to Bill Scott, member of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Coastal Crescent portion of the trail connects Smithfield, Goldsboro, Kinston and New Bern, following the Neuse River. The segment of that trail that goes through Sampson County begins in Johnston County and goes through Newton Grove, skirts around Salemburg and back through Roseboro.
The Coastal Crescent Trail enters Sampson county near the Bentonville Battleground area outside Newton Grove, extending south toward Clinton before cutting to the west toward Salemburg and Roseboro. The trail crosses both the Little Coharie Creek and Great Coharie Creek and exit at N.C. 242 at the Cumberland County line. Along the route, hikers are able to witness a good part of the agricultural industry that makes up Sampson County.
Pharr-Davis says it’s the agriculture that has made her trip across Sampson one she will always remember. Sampson County’s portion of the trail offers a vast array of farmland that spreads across the county for hikers to see, including tobacco, cotton, sweet potatoes, hogs, turkeys, cattle, soybeans and timber.
“I love seeing the farmland,” the hiker attested. “This area is so culturally different and the people are rooted. It has truly exceeded my expectations.”
Throughout her journey, Pharr-Davis has logged more than 14,000 miles on different trails found on six continents and all 50 states.
“I have found that eastern North Carolina has been my favorite part of the trail,” Pharr-Davis said.
This journey will come to an end just before Thanksgiving at Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. Pharr-Davis, her husband, and two children plan to celebrate the end of the journey by flying kites on top of the Atlantic Coast’s tallest sand dune.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.