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The Neuse River Greenway Trail
The Neuse River Trail is 33 miles of gorgeous paved greenway that runs adjacent to the Neuse River. It’s a little slice of paradise on Raleigh’s outskirts that has beautiful suspension bridges, wetlands, and winding boardwalks.
The Neuse River is named after the Neusiok Indians that once lived downstream several miles in the New Bern and Havelock area in the 1500s.
You can bike, jog, or walk the trail, and even find several spots to put in your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. Some people even bring their inner-tubes to float on!
In this post, I have covered EVERY parking place and every spot to put in your watercraft. AND…. every place to eat along the trail. (No other website has all that.)
And yes, you can eat along the trail! You’ll just have to wander off the path a bit to nearby restaurants. And believe me, it’s a lot more fun to get out and bike or jog when you’re headed towards ice cream, a snow cone, or an outdoor lunch!
See how happy I am enjoying my snow cone? This could be you…
Neuse River Greenway Trail Map – I made just for you 😉
Zoom in to see all of the parking, eating, and canoe launching spots I discuss in this blog post.
cool google earth tour – Yep, I made that for you too!
In this narrated google earth tour of the greenway trail, I’ll take you through each spot one by one.
Neuse River Greenway Trail – From North To South
1 – Falls Lake Trailrace Parking
12098 Old Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614 (map)
This is the most northern parking spot on the trail, and you’ll love how gorgeous it is. Since it’s close to Falls Lake Dam, you can walk along the dam and watch the dam’s powerful flow into the Neuse River.
There are picnic tables and grills here, and it’s an excellent spot for fishing. There are also bathrooms and a water fountain.
Here’s a video showing the beauty of Falls Lake Dam overflowing into the Neuse.
2 – The Bike Guy
If you don’t already have a bike, The Bike Buy is a great place to rent or purchase one. It’s located right at the top of the trail. You can literally rent your bike and hop on the trail.
They also fix bikes and perform regular maintenance. And they sell pretty much anything you might need for your biking excursion – helmets, baskets, tire patch kits, and pumps.
3 – Falls Of Neuse Canoe Launch & Parking
12101 Old Falls of Neuse Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587 (map)
The Neuse River is a great place to go kayaking, and this a good spot to put in your kayak, canoe or paddleboard.
It’s also a fun place to wade as I frequently see kids playing in the water here.
4 – Beans & Bubbles (The Shoppes At Bedford)
You can bike here from the top of the trail in about 10 minutes, walk in 35, or jog in 18 minutes. Or for a longer ride, start at a parking lot farther away. It’s about 30 minutes to bike here from the WRAL Soccer Park.
To get to Beans & Bubbles, you get to take a short jaunt through the beautiful Bedford neighborhood. Just use Google Maps to find your way.
Be sure to try the flavored sodas at Beans & Bubbles or the Bubble Tea. I like getting a Diet Coke with a raspberry shot.
They also have fantastic pastries.
8 – Abbots Creek Trail Greenway Parking Lot
Abbots Creek Trail Parking Lot is close to many restaurants, as I’ll show you below.
Use Google maps to calculate the distance from each parking spot so you’ll know where to start your trip. Remember that Google will show you the time it will take to bike or walk the distance.
9 – Nantucket Grill (Falls River Town Center)
Some of the things you’ll find on the menu here are Prime Rib, Seafood, Pasta, and Strawberry Shortcake. It’s more upscale than most of the places I’ll be featuring, but it does feature outdoor dining if you’re more comfortable sitting there.
If you start your journey at the Bedfordtown Parking Lot, it will be a 15-minute bike ride or 50-minute walk to get to Nantucket Grill and the other restaurants in this area.
10 – Sake House (Falls River Town Center)
At Sake House, you can order Sushi, Udon, Teryaki, and more. They have outdoor tables as well if you don’t feel dressed nice enough for indoor dining.
It’s located close to Nantucket Grill in Falls River Town Center.
14 – Bruster’s Real Ice Cream (Falls River Town Center)
17 – Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587 (map)
Horseshoe Farm not only has access to the greenway but is a lovely nature preserve with its own nature trail.
We’ve taken our dogs there several times to explore.
If you have a dog, be sure to bring them with you to the trail! Our dogs LOVE swimming in the river. We found this swimming spot near the Horseshoe Farm Parking Lot.
18 – San Juan Mexican Restuarant
San Juan Mexican Restaurant is known for its tacos, large plates of food, and outstanding salsa.
To visit San Juan, park at Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, or Greenway parking near 401. Walk or bike on the Neuse River Trail to the Mitchell Mill Road exit. Mitchell Mill Road has sidewalks and a bike lane all the way to this restaurant, making it the perfect stop.
Biking from Horseshoe Farms or the Greenway parking lot near 401 to San Juan will take about 10 minutes, or walk it in 30 minutes.
For a longer bike ride, choose a parking lot farther away. Google maps will help you estimate the time it will take to travel.
19 – Greenway Parking Near 401
Trailhead Ln, Raleigh, NC 27616 (map)
This parking lot is close to several foods stops, as you’ll see below.
It’s a short bike, walk, or jog to this spot from Horseshoe Farms Trail.
Or, start your excursion farther away to burn off those calories before you hit these food spots!
20 – NY Bagel Cafe & Deli
This is a fun bagel shop to visit for breakfast or lunch. It closes early in the afternoon, so be sure to check the hours before you go.
You can get breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and tea, or a bagel and cream cheese.
30 – Milburnie Park – Neuse River Trail Parking
5428 Allen Dr, Raleigh, NC 27610 (map)
This parking lot is close to several restaurants in Edgewater Place, as you’ll see below. To get to Aldi, you’ll just have to go a short distance through a neighborhood with sidewalks. To get to the other restaurants, you’ll have to cross a highway, but there is a crosswalk.
It’s also by Milburnie Dam on the Neuse River which is a great wading or picnicking spot.
31 – Aldi
2900 Sunrise Valley Pl, Raleigh, NC 27610 (map)
I know what you’re thinking – why would I send you to a grocery store? But you could pick up cheese, crackers, fruit, and chocolate to enjoy at Milburnie Dam. (Or a myriad of other options.)
32 – Dairy Queen Grill & Chill (Edgewater Place Shopping Mall)
When our kids were little, we would get them out the door by biking or walking to dinner or dessert. That trick still works for me 🙂
At Bruster’s, you’ll be motivated to try their fresh-made ice cream in a cone, milkshake, or sundae.
36 – Big cheese Pizza Raleigh (Edgewater Place Shopping Mall)
37 – Milburnie Dam on the Neuse River
You can get here by parking at Milburnie Park – Neuse River Trail Parking (see above) or City of Raleigh Milburnie Dam Canoe Access (see below)
This is a must-visit spot on the Neuse River. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s the only spot on the river that has rapids (that I know of).
When you visit, you’ll also be able to see the remains of Milburnie Dam, which was torn down in 2017. In the past, the dam had provided electricity but had also damaged the environment, including the migration of fish.
The overflow of the dam was also a dangerous spot, drowning 15 swimmers.
Today, Milburnie Dam is a fun area to picnic and wade.
43 – Pelican SnoBalls of Riverwood
This is one of my favorite stops off the trail. I love getting the sugar-free Tiger’s Blood Snoball!
The Riverwood subdivision is about 1 1/2 miles off the trail with a bit of a hill to get up, but totally worth it to get this treat.
Use Google maps to get there as there are a few entrances from the trail to get into this subdivision.
44 – 9Bar Coffeehouse (Riverwood Subdivision)
Stop at 9Bar Coffee House for hot or iced coffee and tea with muffins or sandwiches.
9Bar Coffee House is located next to Pelican Ice, so you can pick up an icy snowball right after you eat your breakfast or lunch.
It’s closes in the early afternoon, so be sure to check the hours before you go.
45 – Parking Area & Trailhead for Clayton River Walk on the Neuse Greenway
2671 Covered Bridge Rd, Clayton, NC 27527 (map)
You can bike to the Riverwood neighborhood mentioned above from here in just 13 minutes, or walk it in 40 minutes. I’ve made this trip a couple of times and really enjoyed it.
46 – Sam’s Branch Greenway Parking
Sam’s Branch Greenway, Clayton, NC 27520 (map)
This is the last parking lot on the trail. Theoretically, you can bike from the top of the trial to the bottom in about 3 hours.
Or, you could spend the whole day biking and eating at the spots I’ve shared.
It’s a beautiful trail, and I really hope you can get out and enjoy it!
Bicycles and accessories
It’s essential to have a comfortable bike, bike seat, and a helmet when riding.
I love my Schwinn because the beach cruiser style puts my back straighter, which works well for my not-so-great-back. I like a light-weight helmet like this one from Schwinn. The bike seat that came with my bike is really comfortable, but if you need to buy one, this is similar to mine.
I also have a bike carrier for my dog that I can use to store things in when I don’t have my dog with me.
What to bring with you
Some of the items you may want to bring on the trail:
- Bug Spray
- Cell Phone
Rules of the Trail
When you visit the trail, be sure to know the rules.
It’s especially important to know that trail hours are from dawn to dusk so that your car doesn’t get locked inside a parking lot.
Also, passing should be done on the left. So if you’re walking, stay to the right making it easier for bicyclists to pass you safely.
Safety on the trail
The Neuse River Trail is known to be safe, but staying off the trail at night is a good idea.
Also, don’t leave valuables in your car. When I use the trail, I leave my purse at home and carry my Driver’s License, credit cards, and car keys in my pocket.
And watch out for poison ivy. We saw quite a bit on the side of the trail.