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5 Biking Benefits and Where to Hit the Trails in North Carolina

By Blue Cross NC | September 4, 2019 | Healthy Lifestyle

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Are you looking for a fun way to get outside this fall?

Whether you are in the mountains, along the coast or somewhere in between, North Carolina has a bike trail for you to explore. Riders of any skill level can find a scenic bike route in every region of the state. So, strap on your helmet, grab a friend and go for a bike ride!  

Benefits of Biking 

Not only is going for a bike ride a lot of fun and a great way to get outside, but biking also has many health benefits, according to the Harvard Health Letter 

Here are a few ways biking improves your health: 

  1. It’s easier on your joints. Unlike running, biking is a low-impact sport, making it gentler on your knees, muscles, and joints. This makes it a great activity for those with arthritis or joint pain.  
  2. It builds muscle. Riding a bike increases lower body strength, which tones your core and leg muscles.  
  3. It’s aerobic exercise. The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week. Going for a bike ride is guaranteed to get your heart pumping and oxygen flowing.  
  4. It improves mental health. Biking outdoors is a great way to clear your head and lower stress. For those who live close to work, try biking to work. Studies show that this can greatly reduce stress in the morning.  
  5. It helps you burn calories. Since biking is guaranteed to get your heart pumping, it can be an effective way to burn calories and lose weight. The number of calories you burn on a single bike ride depends on your weight and how fast you cycle.  

Bike Trails in North Carolina 

One of the great things about North Carolina is that we have tons of biking trails to take advantage of. Here are some of our favorites.  

In the Mountains  

Pisgah Area SORBA Beginner’s Loop: This easy/intermediate forest trail is a 6.2-mile loop, just a few miles from Asheville. Cyclers can start their ride at the Hard Times Trailhead, 375 Wesley Branch Road, Asheville, NC 28806.   

New River Route: Follow the Railroad Grade Road in Todd for a relatively flat, 10.8-mile ride in the mountains. Parking is available at the Todd General Store to start your ride.  

On the Coast 

Duck to Sanderling Path: Designated bike paths make for an enjoyable 5-mile ride from Downton Duck to the Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks. Those looking for a longer route can continue to Corolla, another 11 miles along Highway 12.   

Gary Shell Cross-City Trail: The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail is a 15-mile, primarily off-road trail in Wilmington. Parking and trail access are available at Halyburton Park, 4099 S. 17th Street.   

In Between 

Neuse River Greenway Trail: The Neuse River Greenway Trail is a paved trail adjacent to the Neuse River in Wake County. The trail begins near Falls Lake, and parking is available along the entire 27.5 mile-long trail.   

Hanging Rock State Park Trails: Hanging Rock State Park has four different intermediate bike trails, each between 1.5 and 3-miles long. All four trails can be accessed at 2700 Moore’s Springs Rd. Westfield, NC 27053. The park is also developing trails for beginners.    

If these trails are a little out of your comfort zone, go for a ride around your neighborhood or search for greenways and trails in your own town.

You may be surprised how many bike trails are just around the corner.  

No matter where you live, biking is a great way to stay active and improve your health. Give it a try the next time you are heading outdoors!