Biking & Nature Trails in Wilmington, NC
In Wilmington and its nearby island beaches, discover diverse coastal backdrops with trails and bike paths that range from serene oceanfront landscapes to scenic parks and gardens. Lace up your walking shoes or find a bicycle rental outfitter – and embark on an outdoor adventure to recharge and reconnect with nature.
Get Active on Urban City Trails
Take a spin on the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, a 15-mile, multi-use pedestrian and bike path that takes you from Wrightsville Beach, through the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus, by the Cameron Art Museum and along several city parks and attractions.
Ride the River to Sea Bikeway, an 11-mile on- and off-road bicycle route that follows the Historic Beach Car Line, which used to carry vacationers from Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach by trolley. The bikeway starts at the foot of Market Street at Wilmington’s Riverwalk and passes several parks and attractions en route to Wrightsville Beach’s Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier.
Whether you go for a stroll or a jog, explore the Riverwalk at your own pace. Along the nearly 2-mile pathway, enjoy refreshing views of the Cape Fear River and Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, read history at knowledge kiosks and spot public art and sculptures along your journey.
Connect with Nature in Area Parks
Traverse a variety of distinct habitats at Carolina Beach State Park. In spring and summer, admire the native Venus flytrap in bloom throughout the park. Take a ranger-guided tour of the Flytrap Trail, offered each Saturday and visit the park’s carnivorous plant bog garden. The park boasts nine different trails, and bikes are allowed on the Fitness Trail, which includes several exercise stations.
At Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, hike the 1.1-mile Basin Trail, which passes through marshes and maritime forest. Along the trail, you’ll find a WWII-era bunker and an observation deck, where Zeke's Island Reserve can be seen across The Basin.
If you’re a mountain biker, hiker or runner, trek through the graded terrains of Blue Clay Park’s off-road, 8-mile trail system. All levels of cyclists can set out on the beginner and intermediate sections, as well as a pump track.
The urban Greenfield Park is just a block from Wilmington's South Front District. Upon entry to the 190-acre park, you’ll feel miles away from civilization as you explore the biking and walking trails and observe turtles, birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
Surround yourself with floral sights and smells in Wilmington’s stunning Southern gardens. At Airlie Gardens, take a self-guided stroll through 67 picturesque acres filled with year-round blooms, wildlife, sculptures and expansive lakes. Along the walking paths, marvel at the moss-draped oak trees, including the centuries-old Airlie Oak, and make your way to formal gardens like the Pergola Garden, featuring overhead jasmine and a three-tiered fountain. Spot migratory birds and nesting areas from the comfort of a tram during their monthly guided Accessible Bird Outings. Visit New Hanover County Arboretum to enjoy a unique water garden, Japanese tea house and more as you stroll the paved paths.
Experience the Beaches like a Local
Follow this self-guided bicycle tour map and easily navigate Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher at a slower pace along easygoing roadways and paths. Learn about the history of the island and see points of interest along the way.
Carolina Beach Lake Park is a destination for walkers, joggers and cyclists. Walk around the 11-acre freshwater lake located just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the 1.2-mile Island Greenway path in Carolina Beach is part of a network of off-street trails, on-street bicycle lanes and parks linked together. View the map to stop at scenic locations along the way.
Take the Loop
In Wrightsville Beach, start your voyage at any point along the way, or park at Wrightsville Beach Park, and set off on the 2.45-mile Loop trail – view the map here. Walk or jog along the path, which loops around the heart of town, by salt marshes and across waterway bridges. While cyclists aren't allowed on the sidewalks that make up The Loop, bikes can ride on the road alongside the pedestrian path. As a bicycle-friendly community, Wrightsville Beach makes cycling on the island a delight with designated bike lanes and shareable roadways.