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Mar 05

Ready to Ride

Posted on March 5, 2018 at 10:04 AM by Tricia Ferguson

Ready to Ride

Jacksonville offers scenic routes and fun rides for cyclists of all levels.

From flat, shaded trails to long-distance routes, Jacksonville, NC offers miles of trails winding within the city and stretching all the way to the coast. “Jacksonville has a very active cycling community,” says Kathy Kane, co-owner of The Bicycle Shop. “Whether you’re a road racer, BMXer or ride a beach cruiser, there’s something for everybody.”

Best known as the home of the largest Marine Corps base on the eastern seaboard, Jacksonville is also a destination for cyclists around the southeast. It features three main cycling shops—The Bicycle Shop, Bicycle Gallery, and Guerilla Bikes—and is home to nationally recognized custom bike brand Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles.

A great family-friendly outdoor activity, biking appeals to riders of all ages and abilities, says Kane. “It’s a sport you can do lifelong, at any level; it’s not just for athletic types. We even have riders in their 60s, 70s and 80s.”

If you’re planning a trip to visit a marine or just looking for a new adventure, Jacksonville offers a variety of routes and events for all levels of fitness and cycling experience.  Check out this map of Jacksonville’s major cycling routes.  

Most cycling events in the area can be found on the Down East Cyclists section of A shared resource among the area’s major cycle shops, the site includes an extensive calendar with upcoming rides and events. “One of the best parts of it is that the listings detail the distance, goal and speed, so you know what kind of ride it is,” explains Kane. Listings also note whether an event is a drop or no-drop ride—whether the group will stop for slower cyclists, says Kane.

Jacksonville’s must-see cycling routes include:
The Commons

For mountain biking fans, the Jacksonville Commons Challenge course can’t be beat. Part of a larger community park, it offers two loops that overlap. The Green trail is an easy warm-up and is about .75 miles long while the Blue trail starts on the Green trail and includes more challenging climbs and technical sections—totaling about 3 miles start to finish. There’s also a beautiful seven-mile base trail that extends from here to Henderson Pond, but requires base access and ID. For more photos of this trail, check out its Facebook page

Rails-to-Trails Greenway

“One of the safest, most beautiful rides in Jacksonville is the Rails-to-Trails ride,” says Kane. “At six miles, it’s a great beginner ride because there are no cars around.”

Extending northwest along a path created from abandoned rail beds, the Jacksonville-Camp Lejeune Rails-to-Trails path circles most of the city, encompasses a variety of landscapes, and is part of the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. An extended 20-mile route goes further to the historical Beirut Memorial. Find out more about this route on the traillink site, and with this route map.


Jacksonville City to the Sea 

Both an event and a bike route, this 21-mile ride takes you from land to coast. Each spring a community ride takes place for cyclists at all levels. Throughout the year, the route is an option for more experienced cyclists and is marked by green and white bike route signs stretching from Jacksonville Mall to the Hammocks State Beach Ferry terminal. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic by Bogue Sound when you arrive or take the free ferry out to the park for a day at the beach. This bike route intersects with the Ports of Call Route—a 300-mile coastal touring route from South Carolina to Virginia. See the entire City to the Sea Bike route here.

Richlands Loop

The Richlands Loop route stretches 50 miles and follows scenic rural roads along southeastern NC and the headwaters of the New River and is also the route of a spring community-wide cycling event. Marked by green and white bike route signs, it offers a level, paved ride with views that include farms, small towns and pine forests. A shorter 20-mile loop is also available and leaves the longer Richlands Loop south of Gregory Crossroads and rejoins it at Catherine Lake

Ports of Call Route

The Ports of Call Route is designated as NC Bike Route 3 and extends from South Carolina to Virginia. The Jacksonville section extends west from Hewitt Road near the Onslow County border, east towards Maysville. This on-road route follows rural, typically low-traffic roads. 

Bikes on Buses

For biking in and around Jacksonville, you’ll appreciate that city transit busses are equipped with bike racks. Mounted to the front of the bus, each rack can hold two bicycles. To use this service, you must be able to lift and place your bike on the rack. Here’s how:

  1. Wait at a designated bus stop and be ready to load your bike.
  2. Signal the driver that you will be loading a bike.
  3. Release the rack by squeezing the center handle and slowly lowering it.
  4. Place the front wheel on the side labeled “Front Wheel.”
  5. Pull up and out on the support arm and then hook the arm securely over the top of the front wheel located closest to the fork.
  6. Board the bus and let the driver know your intended bus stop.
  7. Sit near the front of the bus so you can watch your bike to ensure its safety.
  8. Exit the bus via the front door and let the driver know you will be unloading your bike.
  9. If you are the last person to unload a bike, return the rack to its upright position.

Ride Safely

Once you get to Jacksonville, we want to ensure your safety, so be sure to:

  • Wear a helmet. Today’s helmets are lightweight, fashionable, and one of the most important pieces of equipment you can own.
  • Ride on the right. Always ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Share the road. While signage reminds motorists to share the road, cyclists must also cooperate and help motorists pass safely.
  • Signal your moves. Near intersections, position yourself in the road to let others know your intended direction (right turn, going straight, left turn) and use appropriate hand signals. When possible, always turn at designated intersections and with the flow of traffic.

From our local trails and greenways to extended coastal rides, the biking options in Jacksonville are plentiful. Be sure to bring your bike on your next visit and let us know which route was your favorite! 

More Resources:

Coastal Carolina Off-Road Series 

Jacksonville Recreation & Parks 

How to get to Jacksonville