Neuse River Trail – Raleigh, NC

What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to haul our bikes five hours to North Carolina to explore one of the state’s most scenic trails? (Well, that, riding the American Tobacco Trail, and watching the fireworks at the Durham Bulls Athletic Field made it worth the drive.)

We started our ride at the Falls of Neuse. From our parking spot atop the Falls Lake Dam (the Dam of Neuse?) we walked our bikes down a steep dirt path to the northern trailhead. There, the Neuse River Greenway Trail extends 27.5 miles south on a paved surface that zigzags along and occasionally, over the river.

We were immediately struck by the beauty of this trail; the near-constant view of the water and the alternately lush forests and bright sunny fields.  The rolling pavement and the wide grass aprons were well-maintained and white railed fences lined many of the sharper turns on the trail.

The Neuse River trail is part of the larger Mountains-to-Sea hiking trail that extends across the entire state of North Carolina.  It’s also a popular tubing area and the sound of rafting parties (and partiers) drifting lazily down the Neuse added to the festive air of the holiday.

At times, we had a clear view of the tubers from the bridges that spanned the river – including the shortest extension bridge we’ve ever seen.

The trail skirted the edge of only a few neighborhoods and there were neither any intersections (nor places to buy water or snacks). We only made it half-way on the trail before turning around at a large beach-like area where swimmers and picnickers could be seen on the far shore of the river. But our plan had been to ride 15 miles up and back today, then to complete the rest of the trail the following day.  

Interestingly, the trail is marked sporadically by posts measuring the quarter mile; so we passed by the 6-1/4 mile post, the 9-3/4 mile post, the 12-1/2 mile post, etc. Since we’re used to searching for only whole number mile posts, these made the return trip, while still beautiful and bucolic, seem a bit longer.

All aboard the Hogwarts Express!

We had read that Raleigh’s Crank Arm Brewing was a bike-themed brewery, so despite it being a 15-minute drive from the Neuse River dam, we had to try it.  We were definitely among our peeps there. Not only was the décor all-bike, but the beers were named for bike parts and phrases.

Kellie ordered a flight of five different sours and one Belgium Golden ale.  She decided the Belgium can be a little heavy after a bike ride, although she typically loves them (shout out to Victory Golden Monkey!). Crank Arm’s was a very good one, nevertheless. But the sours she enjoyed most were the Psycho Killer (with pineapple and habanero), and Wheelie Tropical (with passionfruit, mango and guava). It was a delicious as it sounds and with a 4.6 ABV, she decided to have a full pour.

Jim has determined that Irish Red is a good thirst quencher after a ride  – more so than his usual favorites, hazy IPAs, which he typically enjoys while sitting on our home balcony taking pictures of the sunsets. (Every. Single. Evening.  Check out his personal Facebook page, if you don’t believe us.) So, while he tried two of Crank Arms’ IPAs –  Road Hazard and Heavenly Suspension  – it was their Reflector Irish Style Red that blew his new green bike socks off. 




Please share any other thoughts or information about the Neuse River Trail and/or environs in the Comments below.

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