Things to do / Travel Guide
Waterways, pristine wildlife, maritime forests, swamps, coastal villages, even historic battlefields - everything in eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland looks great from the seat of a bicycle. On the Delmarva Peninsula, bike rentals are available on Tangier Island, Chincoteague Island, and Assateague Island, in Virginia, as well as in Salisbury, Maryland. In eastern Virginia, you can find bike rentals in Newport News Park, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, and Richmond. And on the North Carolina shore, bikes can be rented in Wilmington, New Bern, Ocracoke, and Hatteras.
Road Biking on the Delmarva Peninsula
The Deal Island Skipjack Challenge is a 63-mile jaunt from Salisbury, Maryland out to Deal Island in the Tangier Sound. One of Delmarva's premier rides, follow State Road 363 (wide shoulders with little traffic) out to the beautiful Deal Island harbor, where one of the last fleets of skipjack non-motor sailing vessels are anchored.
Assateague Island State Park and National Seashore offers seven miles of paved bike paths in Maryland and Virginia. One favored route starts at the Barrier Island Visitor Center in Maryland and rides all the way down to South Ocean Beach, also in Maryland. For a lovely waterside biking loop, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has around 10 miles of paved paths both in Virginia and Maryland. Chincoteague's Wildlife Loop and Beach Road Trail offers more than three paved miles of premier cycling-bird watching opportunities. Many cyclists opt a quiet sojourn around some of Delmarva's most picturesque fishing village-islands - rent a bike and head out on the back roads for a do-it-yourself tour of Tangier Island, Chincoteague Island, and Assateague Island, in Virginia.
Eastern Virginia Mountain Biking
Richmond's James River Park and Forest Hill Park are reputed to have some of the best urban mountain biking trail systems in the country. Steep ravines, tight turns, and technical challengs of all types are what make the country's top mountain biking fanatics call the Richmond trails a rollercoaster of a ride.
Newport News Park, in Newport News, offers Harwood's Mill Mountain Bike Trail; three single-track loops for a total of five tough and challenging miles. One of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. at 8,000 acres, the park's dense woodlands are home to deer, foxes, otters, raccoons, and beavers.
You can also choose to ride the nine-mile Washington Ditch Road located in the 107,000-acre Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Ride the sandy double-track that runs parallel to the canals that George Washington planned, connecting the Chesapeake Bay and Albermarle Sound. Located just six miles south of Suffolk, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge also offers more than 140 miles of logging roads for further forays into this swampy scenery.
Eastern Virginia Road Biking
Take a two-wheeled tour through history on the 33-mile Richmond Battlefield Cruise route, located 10 miles southeast of Richmond. Start at Fort Harrison and you will pass Fort Hoke, Richmond Battlefield, Malvern Hill Battlefield, Glendale Visitor Center, and the National Cemetery. Catch your breath in Dory Park, in Richmond, before looping back on this mostly flat route.
For another historically happening ride, try some freewheeling fun in the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Jamestown has several three-mile and five-mile paved nature loops, you can ride through the restored, festive streets of Colonial Williamsburg (no cars allowed), or give yourself a cycling tour of Yorktown Battlefield, the very place where General Cornwallis was defeated by General George Washington and his troops.
If you are up for a longer ride, don't miss the chance to bike one of the most beautiful paved routes on the East Coast. Complete with rolling hills and winsome curves, beautiful 360º views of eastern Virginia farmland, and shady pine and evergreen forests, you can cycle the 22-mile Colonial Parkway that joins Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Start in Jamestown, follow the well-marked Colonial Parkway route along the James River, through Colonial Williamsburg, and continue on to Yorktown, where the Colonial Parkway ends.
North Carolina Shore Mountain Biking
The 26-mile loop through swamp forests, sands, ruts, hard-packed dirt, and gravel starts 10 miles south of New Bern, in the Croatan National Forest, and rides through the woods, ending in the 3,000-acre Great Lake. While in the fertile coastal woodlands of the Croatan National Forest keep your eyes open for wildlife; wild turkey, osprey, black bears, and alligators all make their home here.
Sandy single-track and double-track (mostly hard-packed) comprise the terrain of the University of North Carolina - Wilmington mountain biking trail. This is a Wilmington beach loop - follow the blue arrow over humps and logs for a total of six cardio-miles.
North Carolina Shore Road Biking
An Outer Banks ride from Ocracoke to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will make you feel like you're at the outer edge of the world! Start on Ocracoke Island at the southernmost extremity of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (the Cedar Island-Ocracoke Ferry will take you and your bike there). Ride along State Road 12 (with stupendous sea views to your left and right) to the northern tip of Ocracoke Island. Hitch a ride with the Ocracoke-Hatteras Island ferry and continue on Hatteras Island's portion of State Road 12 until you hit Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The entire ride is about 56 miles (out and back); you will turn around at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Biking Routes in Richmond, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, North Carolina's Outer Banks