Roanoke Island hike set for National Trails Day

Published 11:55 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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The Dare County Trails Committee, along with Dare County Parks and Recreation, the National Park Service and Outer Banks Forever, is holding a hike on the north end of Roanoke Island for National Trails Day on June 1.

All community members are invited to stroll along the National Park Service Freedom Trail for either a 1.3 mile loop or a 2.5 mile loop. Both routes begin at 9:30 a.m. at the North End Parking Lot at the base of the William B. Umstead Bridge.

The Trails Committee will have coffee and bottled water available, and will also offer a shuttle van for anyone who might need a lift back to the parking area.

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National Trail Day coincides with the annual Dare Days celebration. “What a perfect start to Dare Days,” said Dare County Trails Committee member Allen Poole. “Go for a hike, then head to downtown Manteo for a funnel cake.”

Though the Trails Committee began in 2019, it had a slow start due to the Covid pandemic. The group is picking up speed now, working together with a mission to promote, establish and maintain recreational trails in Dare County.

These trails include paved multiuse paths, sidewalks, unpaved foot paths, and canoe and kayak trails (called “water trails”). In the future, the committee hopes to incorporate mountain bike trails, equestrian trails and ADA-compliant trails.

Working under the umbrella of Dare County Parks and Recreation, the Trails Committee recently sponsored an event celebrating new interpretive signs along the Marshall & Gussie Collins Trail. They are also pursuing a feasibility study for a multi-use path along Airport Road in on Roanoke Island, and looking at the possibility of creating, along with NC DOT, a sidewalk leading from the middle school ball fields (Harriot Street) to Westcott Park.

“A lot of kids walk that route,” said Poole. The group is looking for a safer route for children traveling from the middle school to the Dare County Parks and Rec building and neighboring fields.

Working toward their mission takes a lot of coordination between state and local municipalities, but members of the Trails Committee are so passionate about outdoor health and fitness that they are willing to keep pushing on doors. Much of the success they have comes when the community voices a need for a change.

The bike path on Roanoke Island, as it’s commonly called, needs some work, Poole said. Tree roots are pushing through the asphalt in many places along the 7-mile trail that connects downtown Manteo to the end of the island. “The community is going to have to start talking about and pushing for it,” Poole said.

Poole, who himself is an avid hiker, completing the Appalachian Trail in 1984 and section hiking it again currently, says that the demand for hiking trails around the Outer Banks is increasing.

It picked up during 2020 and has continued to rise.

For more information about all of the county’s trails, check out the interactive online map at