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  1. #1
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    Emerald Isle, NC Croatan National Forest - Water and Pee Stops

    I will be spending a week at Emerald Isle in North Carolina this summer. I plant to spend a fair amount of tie on my bike.

    My basic plan is to head east on 58, cross over on the Atlantic Beach Bridge, west on 70, and wend my way to the Croatan National Forest, do some kind of loop and head back.

    I am wondering where drinking water and bathrooms are available in the forest, and haven't been abel to find much. Ideally, I'd like to have a bathroom stop every 10-15 miles (I am of that age ) - though I am not averse to stepping behind a tree if necessary. I would like to have drinking water available every 20-25 miles.

    Does anyone know if this doable in the CNF? ANy suggested routes?

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepwagner View Post
    I will be spending a week at Emerald Isle in North Carolina this summer. I plant to spend a fair amount of tie on my bike.

    My basic plan is to head east on 58, cross over on the Atlantic Beach Bridge, west on 70, and wend my way to the Croatan National Forest, do some kind of loop and head back.

    I am wondering where drinking water and bathrooms are available in the forest, and haven't been abel to find much. Ideally, I'd like to have a bathroom stop every 10-15 miles (I am of that age ) - though I am not averse to stepping behind a tree if necessary. I would like to have drinking water available every 20-25 miles.

    Does anyone know if this doable in the CNF? ANy suggested routes?

    Mike
    Mike,

    There is usually WAY too much traffic on 70 if you go to the top end (E) of Emerald Isle and cross the bridge. I have ridden 70 many times while visiting the EI, and never enjoyed it. You would be better, in my opinion, going out the bottom end (W) of EI and following 58 across 24 and ducking into Croatan on one of the roads 8 to 10 miles out and off to the right. You can also turn left on 24 coming off EI and follow it into Swansboro, then after the last bridge take a right onto Main St Ext. then right again on the Swansboro Loop Rd, follow it to the Belgrade/Swansboro Rd also right. Then another right on Stella Rd, very scenic across the river/inlet into Stella proper. Take a left still on Stella rd all the way back to 58, turn right on 58, proceed to a left on Old Church Rd. Follow Old Church until it crossed 58 again and turns into W. FireTower rd Stay on it until a right on Pelieter which takes you back to 58 (right) and then maybe about 3 miles on 58 back to the island.

    I will be down there again in mid July and will try some of the roads to the right of 58 coming off the island. Should be able to get into the forest with a 45 or 50 mile loop if the roads are paved that I see on the map.

    Water and bathrooms have never been a problem for me. I carry two large bottles with me and replenish at gas stations, etc. along the way. Bathrooms are where you make them. I agree, at my advanced age I stop frequently, but seldom care where or how secluded, any bush will do.

    Happy riding,
    john
    Last edited by serotta; 05-29-12 at 05:04 PM. Reason: spelling correction
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by serotta View Post
    Mike,

    There is usually WAY too much traffic on 70 if you go to the top end (E) of Emerald Isle and cross the bridge. I have ridden 70 many times while visiting the EI, and never enjoyed it. You would be better, in my opinion, going out the bottom end (W) of EI and following 58 across 24 and ducking into Croatan on one of the roads 8 to 10 miles out and off to the right...

    Happy riding,
    john
    A friend who goes there every summer told me that the bridge on the Atlantic Beach end of EI has a wide bike lane and 36" guards rails, where the bridge on the Cedar Point end has a very narrow bike lane and 24" guard rails. For him the Cedar Point bridge was nerve racking.

    What's your take on that bridge?

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepwagner View Post
    A friend who goes there every summer told me that the bridge on the Atlantic Beach end of EI has a wide bike lane and 36" guards rails, where the bridge on the Cedar Point end has a very narrow bike lane and 24" guard rails. For him the Cedar Point bridge was nerve racking.

    What's your take on that bridge?

    Mike
    Mike, He's right about the guard rails, but I'd rather end up in the ocean than pinned against the rail! ha! I ride either early in the AM (first light) or after 9am. I feel the rush of traffic off the island is heavier on the AB bridge. The expansion strips are the biggest pain on the bridges. They really protrude upward. I go off the island on the CP bridge 4 times for every 1 time on the AB bridge. Also I feel the AB bridge throws you out into the 70 traffic which is extremely unfriendly to bike traffic. Most of the time I go off the AB bridge I just make a circle going down 70 to 24, riding 24 back to 58 and coming back on the island. I can usually get 42 miles out of that loop without any extra riding on the island. Of course, there is a route on the island from Coast Guard Station to Coast Guard Station that will give you 40 plus miles also. Very stress free riding and with a few judicious loops through neighborhoods and down town AB, you can easily stretch it to 50.

    regards,
    john

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    The Coast Guard to Coast Guard station route sounds good.

    I was thinking of taking the AB bridge and crossing over 70 - not riding on 70 itself - and going more or less parallel to 70 on neighborhood roads. Is that feasible?

    I am relatively new rider, and not real good with heights - the CP bridge sound pretty rough to me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepwagner View Post
    The Coast Guard to Coast Guard station route sounds good.

    I was thinking of taking the AB bridge and crossing over 70 - not riding on 70 itself - and going more or less parallel to 70 on neighborhood roads. Is that feasible?

    I am relatively new rider, and not real good with heights - the CP bridge sound pretty rough to me.
    Mike,
    You could cross the AB bridge and then cross 70 and ride neighborhoods or Bridge St all the way to past the congestion at 24, but sooner or later you'd have to get out on 70 to hit the Croatan area by bike.
    Goodness sake, you are at the beach for vacation. You can ride neighborhoods and congestion at home. Ride EI from one end to the other. I just checked my records from last year. From our house to the Ft. Macon Coast Guard station then back down (west) the Island to the other Coast Guard station and back to the house is 50 miles. That's without screwing around and riding several alternate routes along the way. (AB town detour, Aquarium road ride, Western CG station neighborhoods, etc.) Some years I take my fixed gear and ride the island everyday. Great experience. Nice thing about riding on the island is the mile markers, actually 1/2 mile markers. From one end to the other every 1/2 mile you are treated to 11 1/2..... 12.... 12 1/2, etc. After all these years I don't get bored with that route until near the end of the week, that's when I venture off the island and do the Stella loop. I think the Stella Loop is labeled that way on Mapitpronto.com.

    Either bridge is a bit daunting the first time over. Especially in the winds that are perpetually in those open areas. The CP bridge is single lane with a bike/trash/walking lane, the AB bridge is four lane and there is more likelihood of someone coming closer to you if two cars pass at the same time.

    Happy riding,
    john

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by serotta View Post
    Mike,
    You could cross the AB bridge and then cross 70 and ride neighborhoods or Bridge St all the way to past the congestion at 24, but sooner or later you'd have to get out on 70 to hit the Croatan area by bike.
    How is 24 itself? Could I take Bridges all of the way to 24, head west on 24, and then head north somewhere off of 24?

    When you talk about riding from one end of the island to the other, are you talking about riding on 58 the whole way?

    Thanks,

    Mike

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepwagner View Post
    How is 24 itself? Could I take Bridges all of the way to 24, head west on 24, and then head north somewhere off of 24?

    When you talk about riding from one end of the island to the other, are you talking about riding on 58 the whole way?

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Yea Mike, you can take either bridge to 24 West end or East end. You can ride west on 24, it is 4 lane, but not tons of traffic. West from the West end of the island is busy, but once you get through Swansboro there are ways to avoid it using back streets and roads. Look on Mapitpronto or any other mapping program that lets you get up close and personal with the streets and you can find ways around the area. I just keep in mind that not only do you have vacation traffic, you have everyday working stiffs that are maneuvering most of the roads during the day. That's why I mostly stay on the island until I go stir crazy, then do the Stella Loop of 42 miles. You have me thinking of the Croatan Forest, so I might try to venture off 58 and get into it. I might take my fixie this year with the 25's or 28's on it so I can venture down unpaved roads without much flat worry.

    On the island I stay mostly on 58 up and down the island, it is very, very, safe with a nice bike lane. The coast guard station on the West end means getting off 58 and riding 2 or 3 miles or more toward the ocean on that end just before the bridge. There are many connector roads that can keep you off 58, but they also slow the pace if you are trying to keep a certain heart rate. Most of the connector roads on the island are short (a few miles at longest) before you have to dump out on the main east/west route 58. Only place you will discover much traffic is at either end of the island around the bridges.

    regards,
    john

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by serotta View Post
    On the island I stay mostly on 58 up and down the island, it is very, very, safe with a nice bike lane.
    john
    I didn't realize that it had a bike lane. If it's got a bike lane, I may just stay on the island.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  10. #10
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I biked through the Croatan last summer, opposite end from what you're talking about, so my experiences may not be relevant.

    Croatan itself was pretty desolate. Along the edges along major roads were gas stations and other facilities. Within the Croatan was a whole lot of trees and gravel roads. I was headed to the Cedar Island Ferry, and one problem I had was that the gas station I stopped at had no drinkable water except bottled. I don't know if that's a common issue there, but I'd say add an extra bottle cage and carry money for bottled water, just in case. But camping at a Croatan park, there was no shortage of water. Only when I stopped on my way out to Cedar Island. Likewise, within Croatan and out into the peninsula, there were not a lot of "rest stops" but at least within Croatan it was quiet with lots of trees, so I expect stepping off the road a few feet would be privacy enough.

    It's a nice area, and I wish I had had more time to explore, but a loaded bike and miles of gravel roads left me just focused on getting to a stopping point. Depending on the kind of riding you like to do, or how you plan you route, it could be fun. If you have any aversion to gravel roads, watch for that when planning your routes.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
    Croatan itself was pretty desolate. Along the edges along major roads were gas stations and other facilities. Within the Croatan was a whole lot of trees and gravel roads.
    The gravel roads don't sound like much fun - I have a road bike with 700X23c tires. Are any of the various roads in the Croatan paved?

    Mike
    Last edited by mikepwagner; 06-05-12 at 10:52 AM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I came through the north edge. I was on gravel until I hit 70. I don't know if that's representative of the of the whole area or not.

  13. #13
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    You can easily ride 20+ miles without leaving the island by riding end-to-end and back. When we stay at Emerald Isle or Atlantic Beach, I get up real early and try to hit the road by 6-6:30 am. That way it's cooler and you avoid most of the traffic. The Croatan National Forest is also nice for riding without much traffic. I don't think water should be an issue if you carry two large bottles or a Camelbak. There are enough gas stations and stores scattered around that you should be able to find water every 20 miles or so.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
    You can easily ride 20+ miles without leaving the island by riding end-to-end and back. When we stay at Emerald Isle or Atlantic Beach, I get up real early and try to hit the road by 6-6:30 am. That way it's cooler and you avoid most of the traffic. The Croatan National Forest is also nice for riding without much traffic. I don't think water should be an issue if you carry two large bottles or a Camelbak. There are enough gas stations and stores scattered around that you should be able to find water every 20 miles or so.
    If you ride on HWY 58's bikelane from one end of the island to the other and back you will cover 44.43 miles. (This includes the mileage in Ft. Macon. Without the Ft. Macon entrance road it would be 41.48 miles round trip.) I have never had an issue with traffic on 58 (speed limit is 45 MPH or less for the entire island) although I usually ride soon after sunrise as you do.
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