The Croatan Regional Bicycle + Trails Plan merges two separate but complementary efforts to create both on-road bicycle routes and a network of multi-use trails throughout the Eastern Carolina Council of Governments’ region. The bicycle portion of the plan emerged from the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s efforts to promote bicycling through the development of regional, comprehensive bicycle plans in strategic areas throughout the state. The bicycle component of the Croatan Regional Bicycle + Trails Plan focuses on designated roadway bicycle routes and strategic streetscape improvements, but also provides recommendations for secondary, local bicycle route improvements. This component builds upon existing bicycle routes and creates a continuous path that encompasses the Croatan National Forest and connects neighboring communities, local destinations, and local bike facilities.
Because the area encompassed by the Croatan Regional Bicycle Plan includes the Croatan National Forest, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) became interested in undertaking a separate but parallel planning effort to develop a series of trails that would connect the National Forest with the rest of the region. The Croatan Regional Trails Plan, which makes up the trails component of this combined plan, focuses on recommendations for multi-use trails, both paved and unpaved, in natural settings throughout the region. The trails plan not only focused on trails within the Croatan National Forest, but also recommends routes for both the East Coast Greenway (ECG), a trail system which links major cities on eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida, and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), a statewide trail for hiking and backpacking that is under the control of the North Carolina Division of State Parks.
The idea of establishing trails throughout this region of eastern North Carolina goes back decades to the early conception of the statewide MST. The goal of this bicycle and trails plan is to create a network of that can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists of all comfort levels and provide for the needs and enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. The broader purpose of this plan is based on the many benefits that a bicycle and trails system could bring to this region, including economic development, alternative transportation options, and expanded recreation opportunities.
The Croatan Regional Bicycle + Trails Plan was awarded a 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award. View descriptions of other award winning projects here.