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The Johnston County Visitors Bureau BLOG is published weekly with news and feature articles on visiting the county.
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Johnston County Now Has an Official Geocaching Trail

Johnston County Now Has an Official Geocaching Trail



If you like exploring the great outdoors, visiting interesting places, and scavenger hunts then you’re going to love geocaching. For those who don’t know what this popular hobby is, geocaching is a family-friendly activity for people of all ages where participants find hidden containers using GPS coordinates.

These containers or “caches” can be hidden anywhere and in fact millions of them exist world-wide. You can find caches at attractions, restaurants, businesses, parks, monuments, downtown areas, and more. Many geocaching participants use a handheld GPS device or a mobile phone. Once the container is discovered a log book located inside is signed by the finders of that particular cache – almost like a guest book. The container can also include items placed there by other participants for gift or trade to other participants.

The coordinates will lead you to within about a 25-foot radius of a cache and then you will have to start searching. The container is never buried but may be hidden in, on, under, or on top of something. The look and size of a container can vary and could also be camouflaged or hidden somehow by leaves, bark, or other materials.


Visitors and Locals Alike are Encouraged to Geocache


Geocaching is a great activity to do as a group and especially as you travel around or through an area. The official geocaching trail in Johnston County, called the Johnston County Heritage GeoTrail, has 50 caches hidden throughout the county and creates a thematic trail that includes some of Johnston County’s most popular tourism stops encompassing history, culture, food, art, and more!

Fun Fact: apart from the strategically placed “official” geocaches along the Johnston County Heritage GeoTrail there are over 2,000 caches located around JoCo, hidden by other participants in the hobby.


Here’s how to participate in the official Johnston County Heritage GeoTrail:

  1. Create a free account on geocaching.com and then search for GC73Q1A which will bring you to the official listing for all the geocaches on our trail.
  2. Download and print your passport.
  3. Brochures on the trail with the 50+ coordinates listed can also be picked-up from the Johnston County Visitors Bureau office at 235A East Market   Street, Smithfield, NC 27577.
  4. Find all 50 caches on the trail & record the code words from each cache in your passport or on the official brochure mentioned above.
  5. Bring or mail your completed passport or brochure to the address above.
  6. Receive your free, trackable geocoin (while supplies last).


The Johnston County Heritage GeoTrail was organized and is managed by the Johnston County Visitors Bureau in partnership with local, avid geocache hobbyist.

For more information on our trail specifically and tips on how to geocache like a pro visit www.johnstoncountync.org/joco-geocaching-trail. For information on the phenomenon of geocaching worldwide visit www.geocaching.com.


Happy Hunting!

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Howell Woodstock Celebrating Earth Day

Howell Woodstock Celebrating Earth Day


If you’d like a way to celebrate Earth Day this year, the annual Howell Woodstock will take place on Saturday the 22nd of April. The event goes from 1:00PM to 5:00PM and is located at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in Four Oaks. Take the kids for nature hikes, browse food and craft vendors, and enjoy educational displays. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum will be joining the festivities this year as well as the Science Club from Clayton Elementary. In addition, Jeremy Stroud will be demonstrating Wilderness Survival and Howell Woods will also be partnering with the JCC Science Dept. and the NC Science Festival to offer some hands-on activities.

“This year’s Howell Woodstock is shaping up to be another great event,” said Jordan Astoske, Director of Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center

Howell Woodstock offers many free, fun activities for the family including fishing, mule wagon rides, astronomy, and reptile displays. Kids can enjoy recreational activities like a rock climbing wall and inflatables.

“We are excited to once again be offering this family-fun day out at Howell Woods,” says Astoske. “This is such a beautiful time of year on the Howell Woods property, and we hope folks will come out and bring their families and have a great time with us.”

Visitors to the area the weekend of the 22nd are encouraged to attend. Howell Woods is located a few miles off of Exit 90 on I-95. Whether you're looking for a day trip opportunity or a family excursion, put Howell Woodstock on your calendar. 

Howell Woods is a unique 2,800-acre natural resource located at 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road in the southeastern part of Johnston County. Programs, activities, and other recreation experiences like bird watching are offered at Howell Woods at other times of the year during spring, summer, and fall. Continue to check their website below for additional information regarding everything they have to offer both locals and visitors to Johnston County.

Howell Woodstock will be held rain or shine. For more information about the event and Howell Woods, please call (919) 938-0115 or visit www.johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods.

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World Class Wakeboarding in Johnston County!

World Class Wakeboarding in Johnston County!

 

Did you know that Johnston County is home to one the United States’ premier wake boarding parks? That’s right! Hexagon Wake Park at Tucker Lake is one of only 30 cable wake parks in the US. In an area known for Civil War history, tobacco farming and mules, this park offers a unique opportunity to enjoy this active sport in a safe, environment. 

If you have never heard of a wake park, allow me to explain. Hexagon is a cable wake park. Just like those wake boarders you see skimming across Lake Jordan behind speedboats, Hexagon offers the same thrill, but there’s no boat needed! Since there’s no boat to maintain and it doesn't use gas, it’s less expensive than traditional wake boarding.

Cable wake boarding uses an overhead cables system to pull wake boarders across the water.  Personally, I like the consistency with cable wake boarding too. Speed is easily controlled, which gives beginners like me some confidence. 

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The Hexagon Experience

Hexagon Wake Park at Tucker Lake uses a straight line cable to teach the basics to new wake boarders and a hexagonal shaped continuous running cable wake system. The straight line cable gives beginners a chance to learn the feel of the cable system and how to stand on a board. Basics mastered, boarders move on to the continuous hexagonal shaped system. It's faster and offers jumps and rails for advanced boarders.

Hexagon Wake Park is located at 3025 Allens Crossroads, Benson, NC. Guests should park in the lot opposite the wake park office. At check-in, guests must complete a liability release form — this is an adventure sport after all. 

Once fitted with a board, helmet and life jacket, a training video explains the basics: how the helmet fits, what to expect at the water and how to stand up. In my opinion, this is not the best set-up for such an important feature. The video plays on a small TV high on a wall in the corner of the store/registration area, where nearby noise and activity distracts. My son, who has been cable wake boarding before, was fine with it. My daughter, a first-timer, really didn’t understand what she watched and got distracted by everything going on around us. 

I spent some time reviewing the safety instructions and tutorial with her, then we headed out to the dock and the straight-line training cable.

My son did great -- he got to his feet no problem and headed off to the Hexagon cable to try the “real” one.

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Going... going... gone! He found his feet!

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Ben mastered the Hexagon! Next trip --- jumps and rails

My daughter did not fare so well. She tried, but she never got on her feet.

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Almost on her feet -- but she didn't lock those knees. Nice try!

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Look at the face! Such determination.

The key to successfully wake boarding is NOT to think! The cable does all the work. All the rider has to do is let it —- let the cable pull you to your feet, then lock in those legs and enjoy the ride. If you think too much, you’ll try to stand up and topple forward. If you resist and pull against the cable, you’ll tumble again. 

Hunter, a Hexagon staff member, tried everything he could to help her. When she wanted to quit (the first time out), he talked her into taking a break and trying again. It just wasn’t her day.

Back to my son… his first three attempts on the Hexagon cable looked much like my daughter’s on the training cable. He just couldn’t figure it out. The staff member worked with him (amazing young man -- wish I could remember his name), fixing his stance, showing him how to hold the handles, and teaching him to listen for the click signaling that he was hooked in to the cable. Just like that, he was on his feet. He made a full circuit, and didn’t wipe out until he mis-judged a turn toward the end.

The wake boarders in line cheered him on! There’s a special camaraderie among this group of people. (We noticed this in Illinois too!)

Location

Hexagon Wake Park is located at 3025 Allens Crossroads, Benson, NC, convenient to Interstate 40, Exit 328B. Out of town visitors have ample hotel options in nearby Benson or at the I-40/State Route 42 interchange. 

The facility

The bath house/changing room is located at the far side of Tucker Lake Park, so I suggest you arrive ready to board: swim suit, rash guard and sunscreen. 

There are no lockers at Hexagon Wake Park. We took our duffle bags, towels and camera to the wake board area and set them on a picnic table. If you aren’t comfortable with that, just lock valuables in your trunk.

Recommended ages

While there are no age restrictions, boarders under age 10 must pay for an extra coaching session their first visit. I have seen very young kids successfully boarding, but it all depends on their personality. I wouldn’t force a timid child to try it. Adults, unless you have physical limitations, I really think you should try! If I can do it, anyone can. 

Rates

Rates for Hexagon Cable Park vary. All wake boarding rates include admission to all the amenities at Tucker Lake Park. Come for the wake boarding and stay for the slides! 

I strongly suggest a 2-hour session for first-timers as it can take a while to figure out how to stand up. For complete rates, click here

You will not be on the cables the full time! Every time you fall, you have to get back in line and wait your turn to board again. My son said that after a run, the break is good to rest hands and muscles before another ride. 

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Hexagon Wake Park is a bit of a secret to locals, but not to the rest of the world. The owner of the Illinois park has visited. A family from Wilmington was there for their third visit of the smmer. We met an 11 year old boy from California who declared it the highlight of his vacation! Locals, this is your park too! Come on out and see how easy it is.

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Chick-Fil-A 3 Little Pigs Triathlon Attracting Out of State Visitors

Chick-Fil-A 3 Little Pigs Triathlon Attracting Out of State Visitors

Chick-Fil-A 3 Little Pigs Triathlon


The Chick-Fil-A 3 Little Pigs Triathlon will be held in Smithfield, North Carolina, on Saturday, June 13, 2015. The event will begin at 7:30 AM and include a 250-yard pool swim, 14-mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. 3 Little Pigs Triathlon is a USA Triathlon sanctioned event. USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon, and paratriathlon in the United States.
swim portion
The event will begin at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center (SRAC) at 600 Booker Dairy Road. The swim will take place at the SRAC; the bike course will be from the SRAC into rural Johnston County on a scenic but mostly flat course; and the run course is an out-and-back course around Smithfield’s community park, and down and back on the Buffalo Creek Greenway.
runner
This is the sixth year the triathlon is being held. Chick-Fil-A of Smithfield is the title sponsor, with volunteer assistance coordinated by staff of the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center and the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County. Proceeds will benefit Friends of the Park and the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County.

“We are excited about the response we’ve received about the 3 Little Pigs Triathlon,” said Martin Tetreault, a committee member for the event. “We’ve had great participation each year that we’ve held the triathlon, and everyone seems to have a great time. Last year we raised over $15,000. Those funds go directly back into the community through Friends of the Park and the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County. It’s a great time for the participants and their families.”

Family activities will also be available for those coming to support instead of run. There will be a SRAC splash pool, a misting tent, face painting, and the playground at the finish line. So far this year's participants have signed up from locations like Charlotte, Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Virginia. Athletes also range in age from 12 to over 70.  There is still time to be a participant yourself. Registration information is below.  
splash park
Registration Information
 - Online: https://fsseries.com/3-little-pigs-sprint-triathlon
 - Onsite registration may be available if the event is not full.
 - Participants receive a t-shirt and a Chick-Fil-A sandwich as part of the event.
Good Luck!

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Howell Woods to Hold Seventh Annual Woodstock

Howell Woods to Hold Seventh Annual Woodstock

Howell Woods to Hold Seventh Annual Woodstock

As the weather grows slowly, oh so slowly, warmer we often look for activities to get the entire family outside after a long winter in doors. Sunshine, fresh air, open spaces, activities, and learning opportunities are all available at the seventh annual Howell Woodstock event on Saturday, April 18th.

Howell WoodstockHowell Woodstock offers many free, fun activities for the family from 1 until 8 p.m., including fishing, hayrides, environmental educational programs, star gazing, nature walks, live music, and a bonfire with s ’mores. Kids can enjoy recreational activities like a rock climbing wall and inflatables with local food and drink vendors on hand throughout the day.

“This year marks our seventh Woodstock event, and we are excited to once again be offering this family-fun day out at Howell Woods,” says Jordan Astoske, Director. “This is such a beautiful time of year on the Howell Woods property, and we hope folks will come out and bring their families and have a great time with us.” 

Visitors to the area the weekend of the 18th are encouraged to attend. You can even bring a fishing pole and tent as event attendees are invited to fish and camp for free. Whether you're looking for a day trip opportunity or a family camping excursion, put Howell Woodstock on your calendar.  

Howell Woods is a unique 2,800-acre natural resource located at 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road in the Bentonville community of southeastern Johnston County. Programs, activities, and other recreation experiences are offered at Howell Woods at other times of the year during spring, summer, and fall. Continue to check their website below for additional information regarding everything they have to offer both locals and visitors to Johnston County.

Howell Woodstock will be held rain or shine. For more information about the event and Howell Woods, please call (919) 938-0115 or visit www.johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods.

              Howell Woodstock

 

 

 

 

 

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Part I - JoCo Sports Council Develops Four New Bike Routes

Part I - JoCo Sports Council Develops Four New Bike Routes

Part One in a four part series on the new JoCo Bike Routes

One of the first county-wide projects the Johnston County Sports Council tackled was developing new on-road routes for biking enthusiasts.  Currently along the country roads of the Johnston, residents may spot individual riders and club rides biking almost every morning and especially on Saturdays.

The Selma Cyclepaths have a loyal team of riders in the county, however, visitors and bikers from Wake County are now making trips over to enjoy our wide open spaces.  With these new approved bike routes, the Visitors Bureau will have established routes to market via brochures, online biking sites, hotel packages, and our county websites.

There will be four NCDOT adopted bike routes which will cover most all areas east, west, north and south.  The routes have been vetted by the NC Department of Transportation Bike and Ped Division and each local planning department has reviewed and provided a resolution of support for the routes.  The Visitors Bureau is currently designing the new JoCo Bike Route Brochure to be printed in December...interested riders can call and we will mail out brochures or printer-friendly versions will be on our website.

Through a series of BLOG posts we will take you through each new bike ride in the county.

Smithfield, Bentonville, Four Oaks Route

Bike Routes SmithfieldStart Here:  Rider's begin their trek at the Smithfield Town Commons located in the heart of Downtown Smithfield along the Neuse River. 

Historic Downtown Smithfield is the site of the 3-mile Buffalo Creek Greenway and the Smithfield Town Commons park.  There is street parking on Front St., a boat ramp for river access, and visitors are within walking distance to the Ava Gardner Museum, Neuse Little Theatre, Johnston County Heritage Center and several local restaurants for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Smithfield is home to the Ham & Yam Festival the first weekend in May, where concerts are held at the Town Commons.

Head out of town:  Take the neighborhood ride out on Third Street to Brogden Road, the birthplace of Ava Gardner 'til you reach the Richardson Bridge Rd. Boat Ramp.

Start your ride through the historic Brooklyn neighborhood to Brogden Road, and you will find yourself in the countryside in no time.  Travel seven miles east to the crossroads community known as Grabtown or Brogden.  Ava Gardner's childhood home, "The Teacherage" is located on the corner of Brogden and Grabtown Rd.  Continue along Brogden Road until a right on Richardson Bridge will take you over the Neuse River.  Richardson Bridge Rd. offers boating access to the Neuse River for fishing, canoeing and kayaking trips. 

It's a history lesson:  Cross over the Neuse River into the Bentonville Community, site of the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War.  Bike along the Carolina's Campaign Civil War Driving Trail which takes you by the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. 

The village of Bentonville was the site of the largest Civil War battle and last major Confederate offensive fought in North Carolina.  There are more than six driving pull-offs for an interesting explanation of the battle throughout this 6,000 acre battlefield.  If time permits, stop by the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site for a tour of the museum and Historic Harper House.

Howell WoodsRecreational trip for another visit:  Leaving this area's rich history travel by Howell Woods, a recreation destination for another visit for hiking, biking, bird-watching and more. 

As the route makes a turn back, you will pass by the entrance to Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, which has 25-miles of hiking and biking trails to explore.  This recreational venue is known for exceptional trails, birding, hunting, canoeing, hiking and fishing.  We hope you will visit us again for this and other hidden gems in the county for a day trip, or you can opt to stay on site at their eco-friendly cabins.

Need a shopping basket:  Travel on to the quaint community of Four Oaks then head back to Smithfield along US Highway 301. 

As you enter the community of Four Oaks, and you might want to take a break, the local honey produced here is a available for sale at the Shamrock Buzzy Bee in Downtown Four Oaks.  They have honey, soaps, homemade breads, cookies, candles and more.

Day trip bike ride or overnight visit?

We hope you will enjoy exploring Smithfield's bike route, the countryside, the history, and the community of Four Oaks!  Smithfield is home to Carolina Premium Outlet where you can do some serious shopping.  Several hotels are located near the outlet center for your visit....we suggest you make it a weekend.  We have much to offer those wishing to explore....add on a visit to one of our wineries or breweries too!  Find our more on our website, www.johnstoncountync.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Part II - Clayton Bike Route

Part II - Clayton Bike Route

Part Two in a four part series on the new JoCo Bike Routes

One of the first county-wide projects the Johnston County Sports Council tackled was developing new on-road routes for biking enthusiasts.  Currently along the country roads of the Johnston, residents may spot individual riders and club rides biking almost every morning and especially on Saturdays.

There will be four NCDOT adopted bike routes which will cover most all areas east, west, north and south.  The routes have been vetted by the NC Department of Transportation Bike and Ped Division and each local planning department has reviewed and provided a resolution of support for the routes.  The Visitors Bureau is currently designing the new JoCo Bike Route Brochure to be printed in December...interested riders can call and we will mail out brochures or printer-friendly versions will be on our website.

Through a series of BLOG posts we will take you through each new bike ride in the county.

Clayton, Archer Lodge, Wilson's Mill Route

Morning Glory Inn

Start Here:  Horne Plaza or Deep River Brewing are the jumping off spots for this bike trail which takes you along the trail heads for the Clayton River Walk Greenway. 

Why not stay overnight either at the Morning Glory Inn or Comfort Suites, then spend the next day exploring the communities along this bike route.  Downtown Clayton is a sweet destination and you will find an itinerary just for your sweet tooth on www.johnstoncountync.org.

You will find Clayton one of the more challenging rides in the series with hills you might not expect in the Piedmont area.  Just a short distance out of downtown, discover the trail heads for the Sam's Branch Greenway Trail and Clayton River Walk which connects to Wake County.  If you want to add an excursion to the bike route, feel free to ride along these trails.

Head out of Clayton: Travel north out of town to the growing community of Archer Lodge through rolling terrain and beautiful farm lands.   Bikers will also find golf courses and fun adventures for the whole family at Boyette Family Farms. 

Loop Southeast and cross the Neuse:  Head southeast towards the Town of Wilson's Mills, crossing over the Neuse River. Nearby on US 70, you will find Double Barley Brewing, where award-winning craft beers are waiting. But for now head back to Clayton to finish up this ride.

More to do in Clayton:  Check the community calendar for the latest events in Clayton, www.johnstoncountyevents.com

Clayton_ClaytonCenter.jpgThe Town of Clayton offers visitors to the area several things to do, whether walking or riding you may enjoy the public arts projects in Downtown, head back to Deep River Brewing for a tasting, live music at The Flip Side or you may plan your visit to coincide with a performance at The Clayton Center.  Downtown offers several dining experiences as well from the unique Peruvian Lucky Chicken to fine dining at the Clayton Steak House or the new Mannings Restaurant.

For the official visitor information site for the Clayton area, visit www.visitclayton.org

 

 

 

 

 

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Part III - Pine Level, Micro, Kenly Bike Route

Part III - Pine Level, Micro, Kenly Bike Route

Part Three in a four part series on the new JoCo Bike Routes

One of the first county-wide projects the Johnston County Sports Council tackled was developing new on-road routes for biking enthusiasts.  Currently along the country roads of the county, residents may spot individual riders and club rides biking almost every morning and especially on Saturdays.

The Selma Cyclepaths have a loyal team of riders in the county, however, visitors and bikers from Wake County are now making trips over to enjoy our wide open spaces.  With these new approved bike routes, the Visitors Bureau will have established routes to market via brochures, online biking sites, hotel packages, and our county websites.

There are four NCDOT adopted bike routes which cover most all areas east, west, north and south.  Both the Smithfield and Clayton routes have been discussed in detail in the two previous blog posts. This blog will explore the loop from Pine Level, to Kenly, to Micro, and back to Pine Level. The routes have been vetted by the NC Department of Transportation Bike and Ped Division and each local planning department has reviewed and provided a resolution of support for the routes.  The Visitors Bureau currently has a new JoCo Bike Route Brochure... interested riders can call and we will mail out brochures or printer-friendly versions will be on our website soon.

Through a series of BLOG posts we will take you through each new bike ride in the county.

Pine Level, Micro, Kenly Route

Start here:  Great parking is available at the Sam Godwin Park in Pine Level to begin your bike ride, with a great stop just minutes down the road at Hinnant Family Vineyard and Winery. 

Hinnant's Vineyard is the largest muscadine vineyard in the state with more than 75 acres of grapes. This award-wining winery has a tasting room with a variety of muscadine wines, Norton reds, specialty wines like the Ava Gardner "Barefoot Beauty" dry Blanc Du Bois, and fruit wines like strawberry, blackberry, peach, and pomegranate.

Hinnant Winery

Head northeast out of Pine Level: through beautiful farmland and find out more about our agricultural heritage.

Travel through rich farm lands all the way to the Town of Kenly, home to the Tobacco Farm Life Museum that offers weekly heritage events every Saturday showcasing farm heritage, crafts, and farm life. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum has been serving visitors an agritourism experience for more than 25 years with a 6,000 square foot museum, reconstructed farmstead dwellings, and special events held throughout the year.

Tobaccon Farm Life Museum

Head back to vineyards:  Once you travel through Friendly Kenly, return back to Pine Level along Lowell Mill Road, which will take you back by the winery. The Selma/Pine Level loop is perfect for a return trip for shopping for antiques, DeWaynes, or great bargains at JR Outlet. Just minutes from Pine Level, outlet shoppers and lovers of antiques will enjoy Selma. Home to the entertaining and family-friendly American Music Jubilee country music variety show.

For more information - lodging, food, activities - click on Pine Level, Kenly, or Selma.

 

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Part Four - Benson Bike Route

Part Four - Benson Bike Route

Part Four is the final installment in this series on the new JoCo Bike Routes

One of the first county-wide projects the Johnston County Sports Council tackled was developing new on-road routes for biking enthusiasts.  Currently along the country roads of the Johnston, residents may spot individual riders and club rides biking almost every morning and especially on Saturdays.

The Selma Cyclepaths have a loyal team of riders in the county, however, visitors and bikers from Wake County are now making trips over to enjoy our wide open spaces.  With these new approved bike routes, the Visitors Bureau will have established routes to market via brochures, online biking sites, hotel packages, and our county websites.

There will be four NCDOT adopted bike routes which will cover most all areas east, west, north and south.  The routes have been vetted by the NC Department of Transportation Bike and Ped Division and each local planning department has reviewed and provided a resolution of support for the routes.  The Visitors Bureau is currently designing the new JoCo Bike Route Brochure to be printed in October...interested riders can call and we will mail out brochures, or printer-friendly versions will be on our website.

Through a series of BLOG posts we will take you through each new bike ride in the county.

Benson, McGee's Crossroads Route

Benson Singing GroveA great place to start this bike trail is the Benson Singing Grove in the heart of Downtown Benson, and travel north out of town on Main Street/Hwy 50 to Benson Hardee Rd.  This farming community has been producing tobacco and sweet potatoes for over 250 years and remains predominantly agricultural. 

Travel out to the Gregory Vineyards & Winery and enjoy the scenic vineyards and farm...just a lovely spot to rest if you have some time.  Sip some wine and fuel up at the restaurant attached to the winery.

Continue west to the community known as Elevation, heart of sweet potato country and then loop back south towards Benson.  This route will take you near Tucker Lake, and Enoch Winery which are two great stops for another visit to the area as well. This region, known as Broadslab, has a Moonshine legacy and now offers a legal establishment aptly names Broadslab Distillery. The tasting room is nearby on Hwy 50, and worthy of a return visit... it's the real deal.

Back in Benson, rest at the Grove and take a stroll along the charming Main Street for a bit of shopping and a great meal at Miss Maude's Cafe. Or for a sweet treat stop by Warren Drug Store at the soda fountain for a Lemonade or ice cream cone, and for some chocolate visit Jenny's Sweet Creations. You deserve it after your ride! Benson also offers several parks for a stroll and the Benson Museum of Local History is like stepping back in time with extensive displays on the history of Benson, farming, business, and local artists.

Find out more by visiting the Benson website.

 

 

 

 

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Clayton River Walk: A little bit country, a little bit art

Clayton River Walk: A little bit country, a little bit art

Living in Johnston County means we have ample opportunity to explore the great outdoors. Whether playing at a local park, kayaking on the river, or reliving history at Bentonville Battlegrounds, we've certainly got options. Our favorite outdoor adventure, though, is the Clayton River Walk on the Neuse. The trail is part of the Mountain-to-Sea trail of North Carolina, and because it's paved, everyone can enjoy it. 

Sam's Branch Greenway at the Clayton River Walk

Connected to the River Walk is Sam's Branch Greenway, which is equally maintained. Sam's Branch Greenway is 1.25 miles long (2.5 miles round trip), providing a 10-foot-wide paved trail, a butterfly art project and an accessible picnic area. We like Sam's Branch Greenway because of its gently rolling pathway -- bikes can soar down the "hill" but it's not too long to pedal up in the opposite direction. We also like the ever-changing landscape from season to season. Of course, it's at its best in October when trees display gold and red foliage, the field grasses wave a toasty brown and the grass is still green.

Nature and art come together at the Clayton River Walk

Beyond the natural beauty of this country trail along the Neuse, the public art display along the bridge by the butterfly park offers changing exhibits throughout the year. We ventured out early one morning this week (trying to beat the heat), to see the newest display, just installed in May. The new installation, Whimsical Birds, is sponsored in part by a grant from the Johnston County Arts Council to promote art projects on the trail. This art was created by local students from Clayton High School, Clayton Middle School, Cooper and Powhatan Elementary Schools. 

When we rounded a bend in the trail to reveal the bridge, my daughter instantly responded with a loud, "Oooooh!" as she ran ahead to look at all the birds on the bridge. My son, the dog and I (we will blame the heat), took a bit longer to arrive at the bridge. Still, broad smiles spread across our faces as we took in the colorful display. 

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Clayton River Walk: Know before you go

 Three parking areas offer easy access to the Clayton River Walk:

  • 2928 Horseshoe Farm Road (2928 Horseshoe Farm Road)
  • Buffaloe Road Athletic Park (5812 Buffaloe Road)
  • Anderson Point Park (20 Anderson Point Drive)

The address to park at Sam's Branch Greenway trailhead (about 1 mile from the butterfly and art exhibit) is 1358 N. O'Neil Street, Clayton, NC. 

Drinking fountains and restrooms are available at the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park and Anderson Point Park. Doggie bags and garbage cans are located along the trail for the benefit of all guests.

 Please note:

  • Pets must be leashed
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed
  • Bicyclists are welcome!
  • Bring water bottles and sunscreen
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes!

 

 

 

 

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Beer Wine & Shine Trail

beer wine and shine trail logo

Travel around the county to four award-winning wineries, two breweries and get a taste of brandy along the way!  Receive a Free $30 coupon book when you complete the trail.

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Meeting Planners

meeting venue with presentation screen

Johnston County offers conveniently located and affordable conference facilities for meetings, reunions, and unique destination weddings sites.  Why not select a historic home or horse farm for your next event?

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Group Tour Operators

girl with camera in travel group

Groups have discovered exits along I-40 and I-95 for outlet shopping, music theatre, museums and heritage sites.  Call today for custom itinerary planning.

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Hotel Packages

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We have created several special hotel packages including a Girlfriends Getaway for outlet shopping, we know you need a break and great deals on shoes!  Click here to book your getaway today.

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FREE TRAINING

 

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