Fraternity clears site for Mountains-to-Sea Trail


Halie Hamilton

Appalachian State’s Delta Sigma Phi helped clear the site for a major new bridge on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on Aug. 24.

Gregory Merzigian, vice president of Delta Sigma Phi, said the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is North Carolina’s premier hiking trail that stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.

The bridge will be 80 feet long and will remove the need to wade through knee deep waters to traverse the trail.bridge2_web_courtesy

About 20 members of Delta Sigma Phi participated in clearing the site. Merzigian said they mainly moved tree trunks and branches the National Park Service had cut up into the woods.

“We had to move many trees that had been cut, so moving them was the hardest thing, mainly because there was so much physical labor involved,” Merzigian said.

Andrew Hanley, service and philanthropy chair of Delta Sigma Phi, said it was a pleasure to help out the community in any way possible and he can’t wait to see the bridge when it is finished.

Randy Johnson, task force leader for the Mountains-to-Sea trail in the area, said everyone can find their own way to maintain our trails, with plenty of opportunities for light maintenance work that fit within a student’s schedule.

Once the trail was cleared, a helicopter airlifted components out to the Boone Fork Trail for the bridge that will be finished in the next two to three weeks, Johnson said.

“We did see one couple with their dog that had to cross the river, it seemed really complicated for them to do and the dog was definitely struggling a little bit to get across,” Merzigian said. “If the bridge had already been there they wouldn’t have had that problem, so it’s nice to see the problem that we will be fixing.”

The trail has a few popular access points in the area like the Blue Ridge Parkway along Grandfather Mountain, Shulls Mills Road between Foscoe and Blowing Rock and Holloway Mountain Road.bridge3_web_courtesy

Johnson said that for about three years now Delta Sigma Phi has continually reached out to him to participate in fixing or cleaning up the trials.

“We always try to do some kind of event like this, but this event was without a doubt the largest and most impactful one we have done,” Merzigian said.

Johnson said that Appalachian State students give a lot back to the area’s trail system.

“I really hope people make an effort to go out and experience the trail,” Merzigian said. “It truly is beautiful and it will make anyone appreciate living in such a wonderful state.”

To help get involved in clearing up trails, email Randy Johnson at

Story by: Halie Hamilton, News Reporter