Working with the NCDOT, local governments and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, the Outer Banks has done a remarkable job of creating multi-use biking trails ideal for cycling, walking and running. Although it’s likely you’ll have to ride on the shoulder of a major road at some point during your rides, these distances are relatively short and easily managed for most riders.
Here are our top five bike path suggestions for a memorable ride:
Great Family Bike Ride – The Woods Road, Kitty Hawk
The Woods Road is where the Outer Banks Marathon begins, and it’s a beautifully shaded road located in the heart of Kitty Hawk Woods. This multi-use path has a couple of minor hills which any determined youngster should be able to navigate.
The best place to park is probably the small parking lot adjacent to Paul Pruitt Park at the beginning of The Wood Road next to the Dominion Power building. The trail does eventually come to a fork, and either path you select will be a pleasant ride.
Trail Ride – Kitty Hawk Woods
This suggestion is for the mountain bikers in the crowd.
Kitty Hawk Woods is a 2,000 acre maritime forest of extraordinary beauty. In addition to the multi-use trails within its boundaries, there are hiking trails that encompasses a surprisingly diverse environment.
The Ridge Trail takes riders up and down relict sand dunes, and depending on how much rain there has been, through some muddy terrain. A moderate, but not extraordinary, skill level is needed for the ride. One of the best options is to park at Paul Pruitt Park, take the multi-use trail to the trailhead and bare right at the fork in the road—Twiford Lane. Follow the lane to the Austin Cemetery, turn right and then make another right onto Ridge Road. The trailhead is located at the end of Ridge Road.
Dirt Road – Nags Head Woods
There are a variety of entrances into Nags Head Woods, but many can be confusing. One of the best options is to begin at the Visitor’s Center parking lot on Ocean Acres Drive in Kill Devil Hills. To get to the Center, turn west from the Bypass onto Ocean Acres Drive (just past Pigman’s Barbecue at milepost 14) and follow the road until the pavement ends. The Visitor’s Center is located on the right hand side.
Turn left out of the parking lot, then make another left at the intersection. The road is made up of packed dirt, is nicely shaded and surprisingly hilly and ends with a beautiful panorama of Roanoke Sound. Road bikes with skinny tires are not a good idea for this ride and beach cruisers may be challenging, but almost any other bike should work fine.
Ride for Adults and Older Children – The Monument Ride
The Wright Brothers Monument in Kill Devil Hills is one of the iconic symbols of the Outer Banks and a great area for a bike ride. During the summer months, the best place to park is the First Flight High School (FFHS) parking lot, but don’t park there when school is in session from mid-August through mid-June.
It’s impossible to miss the Monument from FFHS. Ride north toward the Monument and turn left at the light onto Colington Road. In about a quarter mile, there is an access road to First Flight Airport, which is the rear access into the park grounds. The trail takes you for a loop around the Monument and back to the entrance point. This is a relatively easy ridewith no hills. There is little shade so dress appropriately and bring water.
Challenging Ride – Currituck Beach Lighthouse to Bodie Island Lighthouse
This ride is for those who are physically fit and up for a challenge. According to Google Maps, the distance is 42.6 miles for the most direct route and portions would include cycling along US 158 and the Bypass through the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Had. There are a number of alternatives that include wide shoulders and multi-use paths. The best bet is to review the Corolla to Nags Head maps on the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau website to determine the best route for you.
Important to Note
Duck and Southern Shores have some of the most extensive multi-use trails on the Outer Banks. The trails on the north end of Duck are especially great for family rides. Wind is a constant factor on the Outer Banks. Whenever possible, ride out against the wind as it’s very challenging to ride into a 10mph head wind when you’re tired. In the summer months this is usually from the south. Wear a helmet, bring water and most importantly, enjoy!