Year of the Trail

Celebrate The Year of the Trail in Jacksonville NC

Now is the time to get outside and explore in Jacksonville, NC. 2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina. This year, the state celebrates its many paved greenways and muscle-powered trails across the state.

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Whether you walk, run or pedal—getting outdoors is easy in Jacksonville.

From hiking, cycling and mountain biking to leisurely walking, our area offers public trails that make it easy to enjoy the outdoors (and possibly spot a rare bird or two). Take advantage of these can’t-miss ways to walk and cycle your way around Jacksonville’s beautiful trails.


Besides being healthy and boosting happiness, walking is a great way to enjoy the area’s unique landscapes and greenery. Did you know our state has 650+ species of trees, subshrubs and woody vines? Put on your walking shoes and pick a path. And always check the current hours and weather conditions of your destination before you go.

Within the city limits of Jacksonville, you’ll find more than 19 miles of trails and greenways open to pedestrians and cyclists. Download these Greenways and Pedestrian Trail maps to plan your excursion.

Here are a few of our favorite trails...

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A wooded path at Hammocks Beach State Park encourages exploring.

Hammocks Beach State Park

With its three-mile wooded trail, Hammocks Beach State Park offers more than just a beautiful coastline. Four trails, ranging from .3 miles to .8 miles stretch from the park entrance to the Visitor Center and around the grounds of Hammocks Beach. Savor the views with live oaks and water. More than 200 bird species (of NC’s 473 known species) have been sighted here, so keep your eyes open for feathered friends. You can make a checklist of bird species here and check out the Hammocks Beach State Park Trail Map.

Mountains to Sea Trail

Great for walking and biking, the Mountains to Sea Trail is North Carolina’s state hiking trail. It stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. Not every section of the trail is connected or easily accessible. However, you’ll find the Segment 15 section comes right through the center of our city. Here's another map of the Onslow Bight and Jacksonville’s Section 15 trails.  

Sturgeon City

Sign markers highlight the plants and animals you'll find at the Sturgeon City Environmental Education Center.

Sturgeon City Walking Tour

Head to Sturgeon City Environmental Education Center at 50 Court Street, Jacksonville NC, for a walking tour. This waterfront walk boasts the possibility of spotting an otter, herons, blue crab, red-wing blackbirds, alligators and a Civil War marker. A self-guided walking tour will guide you around a series of boardwalks that wind around and through this wetland area. 

Download the Self-guided Walking Tour Map or contact the team at Sturgeon City to arrange a guided tour. Call 910-938-5079 or email

Local Parks

A great place to get started, these local parks offer paved walking areas and a variety of amenities. Here’s an overview of all area Jacksonville NC City parks and photos and links to each individual park can be found here

BigBranchBikePark-Credit Onslow County Tourism

Big Branch Bike Park is known for its mountain bike trails. 


Seeing Jacksonville by bike is a is a family-friendly favorite. Visitors are encouraged to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike) to enjoy the many miles of cyclist-ready routes. See several of Jacksonville’s major cycling routes and options are listed here

Mountain biking fans won’t want to miss the Big Branch Bike Park in Onslow County. Rated five-stars by riders, these natural trails are the ultimate destination for avid mountain bikers and trail runners. Trail hours are dawn to dusk and the gate hours are currently posted as Sunday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Before you go, check the Facebook page for updates on trails or conditions.


Bird sightings are common in the beautiful outdoor spaces in and around Jacksonville.

Paddling and Birding Trails

For amateur ornithologists and birders, there’s lots to see in Jacksonville. Check out birding trails across our region as you plan your outdoor adventure. The Cowhorn Trail is a 16.85-mile trail that runs along the New River from Steeds Park in Richlands to the New River Waterfront Park at 100-198 Riverview Street in Jacksonville. It’s a paddling trail with great birding. 

Don’t miss this overview of the birds that can be spotted from the walking trail at Hammocks Beach State Park, too. 

More Paddling Trails Coming Soon

The City of Jacksonville is updating its current paddle trail offerings. Watch our social media and this site for when we share a brand new, official map of our city paddle trails. For now, use this guide to find Jacksonville’s public access and marinas. 

Celebrate the Year of the Trail with us!

Our sister tourism organization, Onslow County Tourism, is observing the Year of the Trail with a monthly photo contest. Enter when you share a photo of a county trail. Find more trails in Onslow County—even horseback trails—here.

We invite you to enter our photo contest celebrating the Year of the Trail, too. From now until July 28, 2023, we’re taking entries. Enter and submit your trail photo from a Jacksonville or Onslow County trail here. The winner receives a $250 gift card from Academy Sports + Outdoors.