About this Itinerary
Traveling from Falls Lake Dam over 27 miles alongside the Neuse River, the Neuse River Trail (or Neuse River Greenway) is a slice of tranquility on the eastern outskirts of Raleigh, North Carolina. The Neuse River Trail (NRT) provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature while close to all the amenities the Southern city of Raleigh has to offer. The paved trail travels through woods and wetlands and transports visitors far from the suburban sprawl that lies not far away. Shielded from this, you will feel far removed from any distractions other than the wildlife you will likely spot on the peaceful ride.
Not far from the northern terminus of the NRT is the town of Wake Forest. Located on historical Main Street in the heart of town, stay at the Lions Gate Inn. This beautifully restored estate home features beautiful grounds, lovely common spaces (including a sun room and library), five guest rooms each with private bath (including two suites with a kitchen, living space and laundry facilities), and a gourmet breakfast prepared daily. Relax in the sunroom or library, wander the landscaped yard, or walk to the town’s quaint shops from this stately property.
Since the NRT is a relatively flat paved route with limited road crossings, our itinerary includes the entire trail down and back from the northern terminus at Falls Dam in one day for a total round-trip of about 55 miles. Should you decide to break this into two days, the itinerary indicates where along the route you can reach trailheads. Before setting out we recommend stocking up on necessary supplies for the day including plenty of liquids, a picnic lunch, and snacks as there are no trailside businesses along the NRT. Head to the local grocery store chain Lowes Food for fresh produce, cold drinks, and prepared foods. To reach it from the Inn, turn right on N. Main and take a right on North Avenue. Follow this road to Capital Boulevard, turn left and look for the store on your left.
Conveniently located trailside, The Bike Guy is a full-service bike shop offers repair services as well as cruiser bike rentals. Stop in for bike rentals, repairs or stock up on extra tubes for the ride.
The Lion’s Gate Inn is located only about 6 miles from the northern terminus of the NRT, however, given the congestion on roads along the way, we do not advise biking the route. To reach by car, head south on N. Main Street, take a right on to North Avenue, and a left on N. Wingate Street. Turn right on NC-98/Durham Road and after about 2.5 miles, continue on Old Falls of Neuse Road when the road splits.
Head south along the trail and immediately follow alongside the Neuse River. While the NRT is a popular trail with locals, you should not expect to see crowds away from trailheads. Enjoy the peaceful surroundings as you follow the river and keep your eyes open for numerous bird species, turtles, and deer. Along the way, there are several river crossings, including two on suspension bridges designed specifically for users of the trail. The trail travels through fragile wetlands and sections of the route are on boardwalks to keep disturbances to the ecosystem to a minimum. Be mindful of the environment you are traveling through and do not venture in to sensitive areas. Do, however, take advantage of the Neuse River, which can provide a welcome respite for cooling off in the hotter months.
At about the 11.5 mile marker, you will come upon Buffaloe Road Athletic Park. This park offers restrooms and a water fountain (located at the park entrance, not along the trail) and also provides parking. Farther along, 17 miles south of the start of the trail, you will reach Anderson Point Park. This park also features restrooms, a water fountain, and offers parking. If you are interested in splitting the riding in to two days, either of these parks would be a good choice for parking on the second day. Note that restroom facilities, beyond those located at these two parks, are not available elsewhere along there route.
The trail continues along the river before cutting inland a bit before re-crossing the river where it ends shortly thereafter. For enthusiastic riders, it is possible to continue riding for an additional four miles on the Clayton River Walk, which directly connects to the end of the NRT. This paved trail also follows the river and at its end connects to yet another trail, Sam’s Branch Greenway, that continues for an additional 1.25 miles. If you have broken the NRT into two days of riding, this additional mileage might be appealing and something to consider as you plan your trip.
The NRT feels very remote for most of the ride, and as noted, there are no trailside adjacent businesses, although you will be close to residential development for much of the route. If despite best efforts, you need to reach a convenience store for food or drinks, the easiest to access from the trail is on Poole Road. To reach it, as you head north, turn right on to Poole Road (which comes up shortly before Anderson Point Park), cross over the Neuse River and travel for about one mile before finding the store on your left.
Upon your return to Wake Forest after a long day biking, reward yourself with a refreshing treat at Lumpy’s Ice Cream. Located at East Waite Street, since 2001 the shop has been serving some of the best ice cream in the area and features such flavors as Denise’s Chocolate Brownie Addiction, Betty’s Blueberry, and Bennie’s Bacon and Bourbon. After relaxing at the Lions’Gate Inn, wander the shops and restaurants in downtown Wake Forest.
Centrally located in Wake Forest, and not far from the Inn, find Backfins Crabhouse. Featuring fresh crabs, oysters, clams, shrimp, and more, this casual eatery is the best spot in town to satisfy your seafood craving. Enjoy a pint of local brew from White Street Brewing Company, located just down the street, as you indulge in a seafood extravaganza. During your stay in town, schedule a tour of the brewery to see how this popular locally beer is produced.
Featuring a wide variety of Latin dishes, stop by Gonza Tacos y Tequila in Wake Forest for fresh tacos, ceviche, fajitas, burritos, or carnitas. This regional chain serves fresh foods in a fun, casual atmosphere. Be sure to try their margaritas, tequila, or signature cocktails and relax in either the indoor or outdoor dining areas.
In addition to the region’s many options for trail riding, nearby Raleigh offers numerous cultural attractions. Explore the natural world through a series of exhibits, watch scientists at work in labs, or see an IMAX 3D movie at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. This fascinating museum features four floors at the Nature Exploration Center and at the Nature Research Center. Both are located in downtown Raleigh, and are free to the public. Be sure to devote ample time to the diverse array of attractions that delve into all aspects of natural sciences.
See an impressive selection of modern and impressionist paintings at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Another local treasure that is free to the public, explore the many galleries inside and wander the beautiful grounds of the 164-acre Museum Park. The vast collection contains works from a variety of genres and includes American and European art, Egyptian funerary art, pre-Columbian works, and much more.
Catch a live performance at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Located in downtown Raleigh, the center includes four different venues that feature a wide range of performances including opera, theater, music, dancing, and more. Check out their website to see what is on the schedule during your visit to the area.
Wander the grounds of the JC Raulston Arboretum located at NC State University. Free to the public, the grounds are a visual delight to explore. See a wide variety of plant species both native and non-native, some adapted specifically for the NC climate. Featuring over 6,500 specimens, there is a lot to see and plant lovers will marvel at the range of cultivars of some of their favorite species.
For a fine-dining experience in Raleigh, head to St. Jacques. The restaurant’s location in a strip mall might give you pause, but the food is considered to be some of the best in the area, and people travel from all across the region to attend special events hosted by the restaurant. Chef Lil Lacassagne learned to cook in the south of France and brings his love of French cuisine to the region. Enjoy an elegant dinner of country pate, mussels, flounder ‘Provencale,’or another of the delicious entrees. Reservations required.
Serving some of the finest steaks and seafood in the Triangle, reserve a space at The Angus Barn for a truly memorable dining experience. A Raleigh icon, this unique space offers a variety of different dining rooms and lounges, each with its own character. Arrive early to wander the charming property before settling down for a sumptuous meal and a superb glass of wine from their extensive list.