The Cape Fear region is blessed with a flat landscape and well-maintained roads which makes touring the coastal plain by bicycle a pleasurable experience. The area offers a few dedicated bicycle lanes and trails, and designated bicycle routes link many of the region's most popular attractions. Of course, it is always advisable to be aware of sharing the road with motor vehicles and take all necessary safety precautions.
For visitors pedaling to downtown, you'll find bicycle racks, designed by a local artist, throughout the downtown area. Tired of pedaling? Local Wave Transit buses are equipped with racks to carry two bicycles (no extra charge).
Wilmington cyclists are enthusiastic about the new Bruce Shell Cross-City Trail, a 20-mile, off-road, multi-use path providing bicycle and pedestrian access to five city parks, three elementary schools, UNCW, the Cameron Art Museum, three major shopping centers and Wrightsville Beach. The Cross-City Trail is a spine in a developing city-wide trails and greenways system which will make alternative transportation in Wilmington a safer, more convenient option for everyone. Collaborative agreements with private developers, parks and greenspace bonds, grant funds and connections with existing or funded trail facilities will help make this project possible. It will parallel South 17th Street, Independence Boulevard, Randall Parkway and Eastwood Road and will provide linkage for the East Coast Greenway - NC Coastal Corridor (utilizing the existing path along Eastwood Road and connecting to the newly constructed Military Cutoff Trail).
The on-road and off-road River-to-Sea Bikeway (WMPO Bicycle Route 1) stretches from Riverfront Park at the foot of Market Street in Wilmington to Johnny Mercer's Pier in Wrightsville Beach, a one-way stretch of more than 10 miles. The bikeway follows the route of the historic trolley line, which ran from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach in the early twentieth century. Most of the bikeway follows quiet tree-lined residential streets. However, portions of the route are along on-road bicycle lanes and off-road multi-use paths, and there are a few busy roadway crossings. In the downtown area, the bikeway follows the Ann Street Bicycle Boulevard, the first of its kind in North Carolina. The bicycle boulevard gives priority to bicyclists along the corridor through the incorporation of traffic calming devices, special signs and pavement markings and high-tech bicycle and pedestrian crossings at major arterials.
Some state-funded bicycling routes pass through Wilmington and along the neighboring coast using existing streets and roadways. They're marked by rectangular road signs bearing a green ellipse, a bicycle icon and the route number. The Ports of Call Route (N.C. Bicycling Highway 3), is a 319-mile seaside excursion from the South Carolina border to the Virginia state line. Approximately 110 miles of it are along the southern coast, giving access to miles of beaches, the Southport/Fort Fisher Ferry, and downtown Wilmington. Points of interest along this route include Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Carolina Beach State Park, the Croatan National Forest Recreation Areas, Tryon Palace, Goose Creek State Park and Merchants Millpond State Park. In the Cape Fear region, this route follows U.S. 421 on Pleasure Island (on-road bicycle lanes), River Road (on-road bicycle lanes), North and South Front Street, Princess Street, North 23rd Street and Blue Clay Road. There are a few busy roadway crossings. Please use caution and operate your bicycle according to North Carolina vehicular laws and regulations when riding on-road.
The Cape Fear Run (N.C. Bicycling Highway 5): This 160-mile route roughly parallels the course of the Cape Fear River following U. S. Highway 421 from Currie and crossing the Cape Fear River at the Isabel Holmes Bridge. Entering downtown Wilmington at Third Street, it merges with the Ports of Call Route and follows it to the Fort Fisher Ferry where it crosses the lower Cape Fear River into Brunswick County.through the southeast coastal plain to the sea. Rolling hills soon give way to flat land in the swamps and Carolina bays typical of this region of the state. Notable points of interest include Jones Lake State Park, Moore's Creek National Military Park, the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, Brunswick Town State Historic Site, Carolina Beach State Park, and Fort Fisher State Historic Site. In the Cape Fear region, this route follows U.S. 421 on Pleasure Island (on-road bicycle lanes), River Road (on-road bicycle lanes), North and South Front Street, the Isabel Holmes Bridge and U.S. 421 north of downtown Wilmington. There are a few busy roadway crossings. Please use caution and operate your bicycle according to North Carolina vehicular laws and regulations when riding on-road.