A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Find trails in your region. Western      Central      Eastern   Western   French Broad River & Wilma Dykeman Greenways Asheville // 3.5 miles Together, these two greenways create

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Find trails in your region. Western      Central      Eastern   Western   French Broad River & Wilma Dykeman Greenways Asheville // 3.5 miles Together, these two greenways create

Take it Easy: 11 Cycling Trails Across the State

Find trails in your region.

Western      Central      Eastern


 

Western

 

French Broad River & Wilma Dykeman Greenways
Asheville // 3.5 miles

Together, these two greenways create a wonderfully varied experience, linking multiple parks — Hominy Creek River Park, Carrier Park, and French Broad River Dog Park — and giving cyclists a taste of the urban (River Arts District) as well as the bucolic (the stretch along the French Broad River) on a flat, paved path.

traillink.com/trail-maps/french-broad-river-greenway


Greenway Trail
Boone // 2-plus miles

Short but sweet, the Greenway Trail showcases Boone’s natural beauty as it follows the contours of the South Fork of the New River. Along the way, enjoy mountain views, lush forests and expansive meadows.

townofboone.net/facilities/facility/details/greenway-trail-27


Point Lookout Greenway Bike Trail
Old Fort/Ridgecrest // 3.75 miles

Think of Point Lookout as a road-to-trail: It’s a section of old U.S. Highway 70 that was officially closed in 1982 and repurposed as a trail in 2008. It’s fascinating to ride your bike through a dense forest and imagine a once-busy two-lane highway linking the mountains and the Piedmont. Don’t miss Point Lookout, which offers stunning views of Royal Gorge.

mcdowellgov.com/departments/parks-and-recreation/point-lookout-trail


Thermal Belt Rail Trail
Rutherford County // 13.6 miles

Take a ride on the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, and in a few scant miles you’ll come across five communities — Gilkey, Ruth, Rutherfordton, Spindale, and Forest
City — three parks, two workout stations, a public pool, a golf course, a dog park, a splash pad, and pickleball courts.

thermalbeltrailtrail.com
 

Central

 

Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway
Greensboro // 7.5 miles

For more than 30 years, communities across North Carolina have repurposed abandoned rail lines into trails and greenways. Today, there are 34 rail-trails in the state, including the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway in Greensboro. Named after a railroad that operated from 1899 to 1950, the A&Y makes it possible for cyclists and strollers to meander through forests, across a Revolutionary War battlefield — at Guilford Courthouse — and over Lake Brandt via the 140-foot-long H. Michael Weaver Bridge, an optimal perch for spotting bald eagles and other water-loving migratory birds. The A&Y also boasts another distinction: It’s part of North Carolina’s epic, 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

greensboro-nc.gov/departments/parks-recreation/trails-greenways/greenways


Cape Fear River Trail
Fayetteville // 7 miles

This stress-reducing spin through a mix of pine and hardwood forests and alongside long stretches of the Cape Fear River takes riders along boardwalks and bridges — including one rustic covered bridge — that breezily carry you over marshy areas.

fcpr.us/parks-trails/trails/cape-fear-river-trail


Four Mile Creek Greenway
Matthews // 2 miles

Anchored by Country Place Park and Squirrel Lake Park, this serpentine greenway winds through multiple neighborhoods and a third park, Fountain Rock. In short, riders get a big return on a minimal investment of pedal power.

alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/four-mile-creek-greenway


Cyclists at Howell Woods take a leisurely pedal through the 2,800-acre natural area near the Neuse River. Photography courtesy of VisitNC.com

Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center Trail
Four Oaks // 3.2 miles

Part of Johnston Community College, Howell Woods is a bird- and animal-watcher’s delight, thanks to its diversity of habitats. Pre- or post-ride, take advantage of the wide variety of educational programs offered by the learning center.

johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods/index.aspx


Neuse River Trail
Raleigh to Clayton // 27.2 miles

The longest greenway trail in the state begins at Falls Lake Dam and continues through woods, over wetlands, and alongside the Neuse River to Clayton. Expansive greenways like the Neuse River Trail give riders lots of options to customize their adventure.

alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/neuse-river-trail


Salem Creek Greenway
Winston-Salem // 5.2 miles

In just over five miles, you’ll ride through five parks: Central, Happy Hill, Civitan, Reynolds, and Salem Lake. The trail also offers lots of side adventures, including Old Salem, the Strollway, and the Peachtree Greenway.

cityofws.org/1021/salem-creek-greenway

 

Eastern

 

Gary Shell Cross City Trail
Wilmington // 15 miles

Winding through urban landscapes, wooded parks, and quaint neighborhoods, this eclectic route ends at the Intracoastal Waterway, just shy of Wrightsville Beach. Highlights include the UNCW campus and Cameron Art Museum.

alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/gary-shell-cross-city-trail

This story was published on Aug 31, 2023

Brad Campbell

Brad Campbell lives and writes in Fairview.