Join us on this popular ride through one of the premier beach destinations in the U.S. Our loop tour of North Carolina’s Outer and Inner Banks offers a chance to explore the region’s history-rich harbor towns on the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds, and the coastal communities nestled in the state’s barrier islands. Leaving our camping and cooking gear at home, we’ll sleep indoors each night and enjoy the region’s excellent seafood and other delicacies.
After two days of spinning through the coastal plains, we’ll join the Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route’s Outer Banks Alternate, leaving the mainland by ferry to explore places like Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk. With an endless parade of things to do, we’ll view lighthouses, shipwrecks, and abundant wildlife, as well as visit the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. After eight days of coastal exploration, we’ll pedal back to the mainland to our starting point in Elizabeth City.
|Start Date:||May 10, 2014||End Date:||May 17, 2014|
|Start Location:||Elizabeth City, NC||End Location:||Elizabeth City, NC|
|Total Days:||8||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||40.3||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||14||Airport:||Norfolk Intl Airport (Norfolk, VA)|
|Tour Leader:||Julie White||Meals:||Indoor Dining|
|Accommodations:||Indoor (Inn to Inn)||Type:||Self Contained|
|Physical Difficulty:||Beginner+||Level of Support:||Inn to Inn|
Elizabeth City. We’ll gather in the late afternoon for an orientation meeting, followed by our first group dinner. Founded in 1793, Elizabeth City was one of the earliest trade hubs in the region, utilizing the newly constructed Dismal Swamp Canal, a commercial water passageway that connected the city with the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia. If you arrive early, you’ll want to visit Elizabeth City’s waterfront district and make a stop at the Museum of the Albemarle, which details the history and culture of the thirteen counties making up northeastern North Carolina.
Elizabeth City to Plymouth, 53 miles. After a hearty breakfast, we’ll pedal inland and through the sleepy river town of Hertford. (Not far from the community is the burial site of the legendary disc jockey Robert Weston Smith — far better known as Wolfman Jack.) Continuing on, we’ll pass several farms and plantations before crossing the 3.5-mile bridge spanning Albemarle Sound. Our overnight location, Plymouth, is situated on the Roanoke River. Founded in 1787, Plymouth developed into a major port for shipping agricultural products such as corn, tobacco, cotton, and timber, creating a rich historic fabric and a unique atmosphere. After dinner, we’ll have an opportunity to take a stroll along the community’s attractive riverfront.
Plymouth to Ocracoke, 46 miles. After a short cycling day through lush farmlands, we’ll hop on board a ferry to the Outer Banks and the charming island hamlet of Ocracoke. Before dinner we may want to visit the Ocracoke Light Station, home of the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.
Ocracoke to Buxton, 26 miles. Today’s ride is short to allow plenty of time for exploring the coast. Take time to dip your toes and wheels in the waves, and to snap lots of photos! Our overnight location in Buxton is just a short ride from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; the unusual black-and-white “spiral” paint job makes it the most iconic of North Carolina’s many lighthouses.
Buxton to Nags Head, 48 miles. Windswept beaches, pristine marshes, and sun-dappled waters mark today’s ride through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, with endless photo opportunities — so make sure your camera’s batteries are charged as we make our way to the popular beach town of Nags Head! After dinner, we may want to visit Jockey’s Ridge, the largest sand dune on the East Coast, or enjoy a stroll along one of the town’s three piers to admire the rows of historic cottages overlooking the sea.
Layover day, Nags Head. There’s so much to see and do in Nags Head, we’ll take a full day to explore! Whether beach combing, snorkling, dolphin watching, hiking, shopping, or eating we’re sure to have a real Outer Banks experience.
Nags Head to Kitty Hawk, 11 miles. We’ll pedal into Kitty Hawk today, home of two of the most innovative cyclists in world history. The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were high-school dropouts who opened a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, and spent much of their youths fascinated with the concept of human flight. Kitty Hawk is where in December of 1903 the brothers fulfilled their dream, lifting off in the Wright Flyer, the world’s first piloted aircraft. Here they continued to test their winged inventions until Wilbur's death in 1907.
Kitty Hawk to Elizabeth City, 53 miles. Winding our way back to the Inner Banks, we’ll finish back in Elizabeth City where our adventure began only eight days earlier. The Outer Banks will send us home with new friends, great stories, and a newfound sense of appreciation for the history and beauty of this special region of the country.
"The group worked very well together even when the ride was extremely difficult...no complaints at any time."
2008 Tour Participant
"The community of cyclists in our group was fantastic, and I loved seeing the Outer Banks. I learned quite a bit and I’m glad I made the trip."
2013 Tour Participant
"The tour leader allowed participants to ride at their own pace, while always insuring that there was a sweep at end of the day."
2008 Tour Participant
"I liked the places we stopped, and the scenery along the way was very nice."
2012 Tour Participant