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Explore the best rated trails in Jacksonville, NC. Whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the River to the Sea Bikeway and Gary Shell Cross-City Trail. With more than 5 trails covering 44 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
I rode this trail one time and did not enjoy it and swore I'd never do it again. It was difficult to follow/find, unattractive, and dangerous. I lived in downtown Wilmington at Pier 33 for 2 months and rode to Wrightsville Beach frequently, but only once on this full trail. Instead, I created a more pleasant, safe and enjoyable route from downtown to Empie Park and then hopped on the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, which is MUCH prettier, enjoyable, and safe.
I stayed downtown on the waterfront for two months, and in that time I rode a combination of the River to Sea and Gary Shell Cross-City Trail to go from downtown to Wrightsville Beach. The River to Sea Trail is pretty tough, with narrow, bumpy streets downtown and only bike lanes which amounted to painted markings only. It goes through some pretty sketch neighborhoods, too. I didn't always feel safe, so I improvised and created my own route from downtown to where I intersected the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail at Empie Park. At that point, I followed the Gary Shell trail and I enjoyed most all of the ride to the beach. Of course, I'd love fewer traffic lights, but honestly for that part of the trail there were long stretches of uninterrupted trail that felt less like city riding with lakes, trees, etc. From my location at Pier 33 apartments, it was almost exactly 15 miles to Wrightsville Beach, making a perfect afternoon ride out and back.
What a wonderful way to get across town. From Halyburton Park, to Wrightsville Beach. 15 Mile one way a total of 30 miles make a day of it
Road most of the trail from Wilmington to almost 2 miles from the beach. Nice trail, fairly well marked. There is one spot mid way that switch backs to use a crosswalk on a busy road. Ok but could be marked better. The hard part came towards the end your crossing and and going on busy roads to cross the bridges. We at that point turned back. Later we found if you jump on the cross city trail for a bit it would have helped with the second bridge. All and all it needs work in that busy and contested area.
Start your ride or walk at the Memorials Parking Lot (do not ride bikes in the memorials) proceed on the bike path and board walks approx 2.5 miles to the tunnel on left, go through and join Rail Trail path, turn right an go 3.3 miles to Trail head, turn and return, go past the the tunnel & over bridge, proceed follow the trail all the way to the old town, follow to Riverwalk Park, and follow Bike signs to the riverfront an continue following signs past Stuggeon City Enviro education Ctr, you can go in if you wish, continue following bike path signs to Wilson Bay Park for a brief stop, then continue back to the Memorials parking lot, total miles, approx 17 miles.
Wonderful paved trail. Did see a Copperhead on the trail!!
If you like biking on a busy highway this is the trail for you!! Not well marked and people drive very fast and aggressive!
Rode from Empie Park to the Wrightsville Beach bridge today. The good parts of the trail were very good…the rest wasn’t. The trail is not very well marked in places and pretty hard to figure out. I wouldn’t suggest trying without a local leader or a big pile of time and patience. The route varies between nice trail, bike lanes, neighborhood roads, and a few sidewalks thrown in. Signs would make a huge difference.
I’ve lived here in ILM for almost 10 years now and have been keeping an eye on the progress of this trail since I moved here. I bike from downtown to work near Mayfaire on this trail very regularly and, while it certainly has gotten better from where it started this trail still needs significant work. The sections of the trail between South College (which you will have to cross at a light through traffic) and up to the bridge at Wrightsville are fine. You’re on a separate trail and have cross-walks as needed. However, when you’re riding around downtown and after you cross the bridge at Wrightsville, you’re on roads. This is mostly okay because they can be smaller roads, but you will be on some main roads with cars going by you pretty quickly. If you’re okay with that, go for it! It really is a fun ride. But if you’re newer to road cycling or are uncomfortable with cars going quickly by you, maybe skip this one for now. Like I said, the city is working to improve this trail. It’s just not quite there yet.
Don’t let the negative reviews discourage you, as they almost did me. He had an amazing time! Spoke and Wheel dropped off our bike rentals at our hotel, no extra charge. I highly recommend them! We set off from the Ballast Hotel. The brick streets were so so quaint. The ride was very flat. We stopped at the Alcove along the way for a beer. Then headed on to Flying Machine Brewery (such a cool place—great beer and even better music). Then circled back to End of Days distillery. So, as you can see we did not do the entire trail, but plan to next time! It is a beautiful, flat ride
Started out with high hopes of a great ride, but trail was very poorly marked. Lots of cracked and holed pavement made for a bumpy ride. Lots of busy intersections...glad I rode, but won’t go back.
We rented 5 bikes from Beach Wheels and started riding from the first beach access off of Ocean Dr. We didn’t feel comfortable riding on the road, so Bryan at Beach Wheels was kind enough to drop the bikes off there so we could ride on the bike path. We took the path all the way down to Plaza Mexican in Emerald Isle and had lunch. Then we biked down to Emerald Isle Woods where we took the bikes down to the water and enjoyed the view. Around 3:00 we turned around and biked our way back to Sweet Spot for ice cream. We were pretty tired at that point so we biked our way back to car.
Overall it was a very enjoyable bike ride. One thing I wish we had know is that the path is mostly downhill as you bike your way towards Emerald Isle which means it’s uphill as you’re coming back towards the car. We biked around 20 miles in total so the last 5-6 miles we’re pretty rough as we were very tired! Also, there’s a good bit of crosswalk traffic so be very cautious of cars as your cross.
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