Surrounded by the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington is home to unique ecosystems and coastal environments, inviting exploration along its numerous and scenic park trails and pathways that crisscross the best of the Carolina coast.  

Scenic Paths

Stretching alongside the historic Cape Fear River, the Riverwalk is a nearly two-mile walkway in the heart of Historic Downtown Wilmington. Galleries, outdoor cafes and an assortment of markets and shops line this picturesque path, which was named one of America’s Best Riverfronts in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice travel awards. Adding to the Riverwalk's breathtaking backdrop, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is permanently moored across the river where you can stroll along the SECU Memorial Walkway that encircles the vessel. 


The River to Sea Bikeway follows the path of the Historic Beach Car line which transported travelers from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach. The 11-mile trail, which begins in historic downtown, is comprised of residential streets, off-road multi-use paths and a few arterial roadways that stretch all the way to Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier in Wrightsville Beach. Follow along with this map. Amp up your biking adventure with a visit to Blue Clay Bike Park, an 8-mile off-road trail system for mountain bikers.


Parks and Preserves

Discover the many different area green spaces with Wilmington’s system of parks and trails. Longleaf Park features a 1.55-mile paved walking trail, along with StoryWalk, which allows families to walk along the trail reading pages from children's picture books as they interact with the story. A handicap-accessible trail with an exercise station at Ogden Park circles around the pond and athletic fields. Smith Creek, Pages Creek and Parkwood Park also feature nature trails.

Secluded within the hustle and bustle of downtown Wilmington, Greenfield Park spans 250 acres of preserved nature, filled with biking and walking trails. Follow along with this map or embark on the guided Greenfield Lake Walking Eco-Tour to learn more about the flora, fauna, and unique ecosystems with Cape Fear River Watch.


Halyburton Park is a 58-acre nature preserve with a 1.3-mile paved walking and birding trail, plus picnic shelters and playground space. The park, along with Wade Park and Empie Park, connect to the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, a 15-mile primarily off-road trail with pedestrian and bike access. Detour along the Summer Rest Trail, a multi-purpose pathway with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, before rejoining the main trail. Take in more views of the waterway from the lookout station at the Heide-Trask Drawbridge where the trail ends.

Garden Trails

The pathways of New Hanover County Arboretum take you through 7 acres of gardens showcasing native plant species and unique gardens, like the Japanese water garden filled with koi and Japanese Maples, complete with a tea house. Follow this map to stroll through the Camellia Walk, Rose Garden or other areas. 


The Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden is an ADA-accessible park with a walking trail and observation decks that showcase the native Venus flytrap as it grows in the wild among a collection of other carnivorous plants.


Explore more than a dozen gardens across 67 acres at Airlie Gardens, where you can discover the site's wildlife, lakes and more than 75,000 azaleas while walking along the trails throughout the garden. The pathways guide you through the Tranquility Gardens, lakes, public art displays and other areas within the park. Airlie Gardens also hosts regular Bird and Tree Walks to spot the birds living within the gardens and learn about the different tree species there. Each of the walks requires advance registration; purchase tickets through the Airlie Gardens events page. Just off of Airlie Road, motorists can drive along part of the North Carolina Scenic Byway, which showcases scenic routes and the state's history, geography and scenery. The Airlie Road path showcases the garden's oak trees draped in Spanish Moss and runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, a great spot for nature viewing.


From navigating trails and pathways at local parks to embarking on adventures through coastal habitats and gardens, Wilmington is open for exploration. Explore more natural landscapes and find your perfect trail in Wilmington’s three nearby island beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.