You’d be forgiven for not thinking about Pamlico County as a cycling destination. Despite our lack of memorable climbs and epic descents, the visiting cyclist will inevitably arrive at the same conclusion as seasoned locals… the cycling in Pamlico County is a North Carolina hidden gem.
What makes the cycling great around Pamlico County
Topping the list of reasons why the riding is so good in Pamlico County has to be the lack of traffic and the abundance of friendly drivers. Of course road cycling on public highways is inherently dangerous and you might end up having a close call while riding on the local roads, but most seasoned riders would agree that the road cycling down here is about as safe as it gets.
Next on the list of reasons why the cycling in Pamlico County is amazing is road quality. In recent years many of the roughest sections of road have been repaved with a fresh and fast coat of asphalt. If dodging potholes is part of your cycling routine you’ll find most of the riding down here to be a breath of fresh air. For more information about local road conditions check out this online map at visitonc.com.
Last but certainly not least of the reasons why cycling in Pamlico County rocks are the plethora of routes and the welcoming cycling community. When you straddle your steed and head off onto the open road you’ll soon realize how much exploring there is to do around the county. If you’re coming from an area where out and back routes are the only option then you’ll be especially pleased to see the number of loop options available.
There’s also a great and active community of local cyclists that warmly welcome all riders, from fledgling newb to seasoned veteran, to come and explore all that the county has to offer. Though loosely organized, the Oriental Express Bike Club is a good place to start when you need to learn more about riding in Pamlico County. You can connect with them through their website or Facebook page.
What to expect cycling around Pamlico County
So what exactly is the riding like around Pamlico County? Well for one it’s flat, and you’re likely going to have a headwind for the entire duration of your ride. How can you have a headwind coming from both directions during a loop ride? It baffles us too but rest assured that every local cyclist will confirm this phenomenon. So despite the lack of hills there will be no lack of a workout as you pedal into a consistent 12 mph “breeze”.
While you’re riding around the county it’s highly likely you’ll encounter plenty of wildlife. In fact it’s not at all uncommon to see Black Bear wandering across farm fields or even Bobcats and Coyotes darting across our idyllic country roads. Deer, birds, snakes, turtles and otters are all regular sightings around Pamlico County.
Best places to ride in Pamlico County
Now that you have an idea about what it’s like to ride around Pamlico County, where exactly should you go? Of course this decision will be based on your fitness and available time but here are 5 quintessential rides around the county. Distances and routes are based on starting from and finishing at the AP sales center.
Named after the popular tropical fish, this 21 mile route is probably the most popular route in the county. If you only have one day to ride or a limited amount of time then this is going to be your best option. Highlights along the route include the Dawson Creek bridge/Janeiro section of road, beautifully situated between the mouth of Dawson Creek and the Neuse River, the village of Oriental, and the idyllic farm fields around Arapahoe.
This 14 mile loop isn’t quite half the distance of the full guppy but she does essentially get cut in half by cutting through Oriental road! Though you’ll miss the sites and sounds of Oriental on this route you’ll still get to enjoy the amazing vistas along Janeiro road as you ride along the banks of the Neuse crossing over the famous Dawson Creek.
If you’re comfortable with a 50 mile ride then this classic should be your go to route. Along this route you’ll see all the same sites you see on the Guppy, plus you’ll get a chance to explore some of the less frequently traveled reaches of Pamlico County. This route is essentially three smaller loops, the Guppy, Orchard Creek, and Florence/Whortonsville connected by a long straight stretch of road aptly named, “Straight road” which has recently been paved (read fast and smooth). But don’t let the smooth pavement fool you, once you get out around Florence/Whortonsville you’ll be in for some of the roughest sections of road in the county. Should you choose to embrace the bumps then you may be rewarded with a Bear sighting which isn’t an uncommon occurrence in this part of Pamlico County.
If you want a little more distance than the Guppy has to offer this 34 mile route might be just what you’re looking for. From the Arapahoe crossroads (where 306 and 1005 aka Neuse Road converge near the Arapahoe post office) you’ll head NW over rolling “hills” to Goose Creek road, a nice little loop through some quiet neighborhoods and pastoral farm fields. If a side trip is on your agenda then be sure to check out Kennel’s Beach which can be easily accessed from this route.
So you think you’re ready for a century, eh? If so this 103 mile route will be sure to test your legs and lungs, especially if it’s a particularly windy day. This ride will take you into three counties, Craven, Beaufort, and of course Pamlico, through the town of Aurora, over the ICW via the Hobucken bridge and through some lesser known areas like Mesic and Vandemere. This ride also serves as the route for the annual Chuck FONDEAUX! cycling event.
Where to ride inside Arlington Place
Just because the cycling is great around the county doesn’t mean you have to leave AP to enjoy the local flavor. Inside AP you’ll find miles of smooth asphalt that are just as perfect for casual cruising or focused interval training. There are also two short gravel trails that provide a great pedestrian link between different parts of the neighborhood and a new gated gravel road that leads down to the riverfront beach. The trails are packed gravel and the road is loose gravel/dirt. They all could be ridden on a road bike by a skilled rider but a fat tired option will serve you much better on these sections.
The boardwalk trail features a great boardwalk overlooking an impressive wetland that forms the headwaters of an unnamed tributary to Mill Creek. If you are staying in one of our rental cottages near the Outfitters Center then this is a great way to walk or ride approximately 2 miles to the riverfront beach.
The dog park trail serves as a nice connector between our two main thoroughfares, Burton Farm Drive and Mill Creek Drive. As you might expect, this trail ventures past our fenced in dog park so if you’re on foot and have your best friend with you then be sure to stop in for some off leash excitement!
The riverfront beach road is a good standalone option, especially if you want a casual walk with your pet. If you’re looking for a nice bike loop then you should definitely consider linking up all these options.
The result is an approximately 4 mile loop that features a fun romp through the woods, a scenic vista from the boardwalk, an expansive view of the Neuse and a great introduction to the neighborhood.
Cycling events near Arlington Place
A classic event for a great cause that was unfortunately cancelled in 2019 due to anticipated impact of Hurricane Dorian. The 2020 event is currently scheduled for the weekend of September 26-27.
Cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Each spring since 2004, North Carolina amateur sports organizes a coastal ride that gets hosted at three different locations on a rotating basis. Historically those locations have been Oriental, Edenton, and Washington. This event draws a huge number of cyclists to the area (sometimes over 1,500 participants) and is a great way to get to know Pamlico County and experience all that the county has to offer.
Coming up on it’s 8th year this event is typically held the last weekend in November or the first in December depending on how the weekend lands and is a celebration of local cyclist Chuck Forrest’s birthday. You can expect anywhere from 30-40 riders lining up at the start with roughly half of them up to the challenge of completing the entire 100+ mile route. If you want to experience the ride but aren’t in town for the event then just follow the Aurora/Hobucken route mentioned above.
Though it’s no longer the epic mixed gravel/highway route it used to be you’ll be certain to feel the pain after completing this ultra endurance challenge.
Helpful resources for local and visiting cyclists
- Flythe’s Bike Shop, New Bern
- Bike Depot, Havelock
- The Bicycle Shop, Jacksonville
- Bicycle Gallery, Jacksonville
- Bicycle Post, Greenville
Historically there have been mellow group rides starting from and finishing at the Bean in Oriental throughout the week and weekend. Currently there’s no active ride calendar so if you’re looking for more information about the rides be sure to reach out to the group through their website or Facebook page.
If a fast pace is what you’re after then you have to check out the Tuesday/Thursday rides with the AtOmic Cycles Bicycle Club. They also have brisk but sane rides on the weekends too. These rides all start and finish in New Bern. For more information reach out to the club through their Facebook page.