(Johnston County, NC) – Currently along the country roads of Johnston County, residents may have noticed a growing number of cyclists, both individuals and groups, enjoying a morning or weekend ride. Because of this increase in popularity, one of the first county-wide projects the Johnston County Sports Council tackled was developing new bike routes for biking enthusiasts.

This project includes four NCDOT adopted bike routes that cover most all areas of Johnston County. 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 distributed around the county.

"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 the wide open spaces of Johnston County," stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, Executive Director, "with these new approved bike routes the Johnston County Visitors Bureau will have established routes to market via brochures, online biking sites, and our county websites."

Below is a sample of the four routes and what visitors will encounter along the way. The Visitors Bureau will be accepting naming ideas for the routes through social media contests or by contacting the office directly. To suggest a name for any of the four bike routes, contact the staff at 919-989-8687 or email info@johnstoncountync.org, subject line: Names for new Bike Routes.

Smithfield, Bentonville, Four Oaks Route
Riders begin their trek at the Smithfield Town Commons located in the heart of Downtown Smithfield along the Neuse River. Take the neighborhood ride out on Third Street to Brogden Road, the birthplace of Ava Gardner, until you reach the Richardson Bridge Rd. Boat Ramp. 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. Leave this area's rich history and travel by Howell Woods, a recreation destination for another visit that offers hiking, biking, bird-watching and more. Travel on to the quaint community of Four Oaks then head back to Smithfield along US Highway 301.

Clayton, Archer Lodge, Wilson's Mills Route
Horne Plaza or Deep River Brewing are the jumping off spots for this bike trail which takes you along the trailheads for the Sam's Branch Greenway and Clayton River Walk on the Neuse, part of the NC Mountains to Sea Trail. Travel north out of town to the growing community of Archer Lodge through rolling terrain and beautiful farm lands. Once considered for the State Capital, Stallings Station was located in this area. Head southeast towards the Town of Wilson's Mills, crossing over the Neuse River then make a turn back towards the Town of Clayton, a downtown community that is dedicated to culture and the arts. Enjoy the public art installations and maybe a show at The Clayton Center -- check local calendar of events for dates and shows.

Pine Level, Micro, Kenly Route
Great parking is available at the Sam Godwin Park in Pine Level to being your bike ride, with a great stop just minutes down the road at Hinnant Family Vineyard and Winery. Travel through rich farm lands all the way to the Town of Kenly, home to the Tobacco Farm Life Museum who offers weekly heritage events every Saturday showcasing farm heritage, crafts, and farm life. 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, DeWayne's or great bargains at JR Outlet.

Benson, McGee's Xrds Route
A 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 Gregory Vineyards & Winery to enjoy the scenic vineyards and farm...a lovely spot to rest if you have some time. Continue west to the community known as Elevation, the heart of sweet potato country, and loop back south towards Benson. This route will take you near Tucker Lake, and Enoch Winery which are two great stops for when you are back in town for another visit. Back in Benson, rest at The Grove and take a stroll along charming Main Street for a bit of shopping and a great meal at Miss Maude's Café.

The Johnston County Sports Council was created to bring together Parks & Recreation Departments and county-wide sports organizations to attract a wide range of sports tournaments and events to Johnston County, market the county as a leisure sports destination, as well as, provide services to promote area visitor-related businesses. Members include five Parks & Recreation representatives, five at-large positions involved in sports and recreation, one County Commissioner, one Tourism Authority Board Member and a Johnston County Visitors Bureau staff member.