Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Around Raleigh, North Carolina

Sep 26, 2021


Kawasaki street bike ridden in North Carolina.

Raleigh is North Carolina’s capital and one of America’s fastest-growing cities. Known as the “City of Oaks” for the majestic oak trees which line the city center. Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, the founder of the first English colony in North America at Roanoke, Virginia. One of the first “planned cities,” having been laid out according to a grid pattern after the American Revolution.

If you’re liable to fall in love with the City of Oaks and happen to be a motorcycle rider, you won’t be disappointed by the surrounding countryside. The motorcycle routes around Raleigh make for short trips through tranquil farmland and sleepy towns whenever you wish to escape the city. These routes are full of open straightaways and sweeping curves ideal for blasts of speed or easy-going cruises, with slightly twisted roads. They’ll even take you as far as Wilmington, so you can enjoy the pale beaches and glorious surf of the Atlantic ocean. 

Don’t deprive yourself of the chance to see all this and more. Renting a motorcycle is as easy as shopping online, but way more exciting. To help get a trip started, we’ve put together five of North Carolina’s best back-road motorcycle routes.

1. Wake/Franklin County Back Roads Loop

One-day trip — 55 miles

The back roads of North Carolina take you away from the hustle-and-bustle of Raleigh—but that doesn’t mean they throw you into the middle of nowhere. The Wake/Franklin County Back Roads Loop is chock-full of things to see.

This loop begins in Wendell, North Carolina, about 20 miles east of Raleigh via I-87. Although this loop crosses major highways (401, 87, 96, 98), it sticks to North Carolina’s shady back roads. As you ride past Raleigh, Wendell, Rolesville, Louisburg, Youngsville, and Zebulon, you’ll get the chance to see horse farms, ponds, rural churches, and all the other standard farmland views. 

Golfers and remote control airplane enthusiasts, get excited: you’ll even pass RDRC, a remote control airplane flying field, and a golf course on this loop. The Loop also runs by Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville. Pet some of the farm animals there, go gem mining, or go on a countryside hayride.

The back roads in this part of North Carolina are known for their curves. The Wake/Franklin County Back Roads Loop was designed to take advantage of this. It’s full of sweeping  corners, with a few sharper curves on Clifton Pond and Bethlehem Church Roads.

Opportunities for food and fuel abound. Wake Forest is home to Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs, while Youngsville is the location of Griffin’s Restaurant, a great place for homemade, country style breakfast or lunch. If you’re looking for a treat, there’s a Sonic, Bojangles, and Hillbillies Ice Cream in Zebulon. If you’re looking for amenities in general, County Line Grocery and Grill on Bethlehem Church Road, or any of the country stores along the way, will suffice.

2. Quiet Country Ride

One-day trip — 77 miles

North Carolina’s Quiet Country Ride won’t disappoint the Saturday-morning rider seeking peace-and-quiet. It mixes the sleepy towns with the most idyllic country roads imaginable.

The Quiet Country Ride takes you from sleepy towns to the gentle serenity of twisting farmland roads. Some of these towns are so small, they don’t have much more than a feed, post office, and convenience store. Hurdle Mills is an especially quaint section of the route. Aside from the towns and roads, expect to see plenty of rural country houses and farms. You’ll end up crossing a few streams and small lakes along the way.

This route is a mix of country roads, towns, and two-lane highways. Road quality is generally great. You’ll encounter gravel drives in the more rural sections of the route. Wherever you pass more populated areas, you’ll notice a definite improvement in road quality. Traffic is usually light. Otherwise, keep an eye out for critter crossings.

The majority of this ride is rural, although there’s gas, chow, and coffee in the moderately-populated towns. If you’re not in town, grab fuel and gas when you can—you don’t know where the next stop will pop up.

3. Archer's Lodge Loop

One-day trip — 34 miles

If you’re looking for a scenic, curvy, and accessible ride under half-an-hour outside of Raleigh, Archer’s Lodge Loop is the answer.

This trip takes about an hour to complete and begins near Knightdale, North Carolina, only 13 miles from Raleigh via Capital Boulevard. Explore the tree-shaded roads between the towns of Knightdale, Clayton, Archer’s Lodge, and Wendell. The area becomes magical during autumn, when the leaves change color. Aside from some beautiful farmland, you’ll pass a small lake or two, in addition to crossing the Neuse River. 

Think this is another boring, semi-rural, residential run? Think again. Archer’s Lodge Loop was designed to dispel monotony, so it offers a combination of hills and curves. The pavement is usually smooth, though you might run across loose gravel on intersections and driveways. Most of Covered Bridge Road was resurfaced recently.

Amenities are in short supply along this loop. It mostly passes through residential areas, so the few small convenience stores along the way and the park areas by the lakes are your best bet for gas and grub.

4. The Mock-5 Bridge

One-day trip — 20 miles

Those with a need for speed can do no better than tackling The Mock-5 Bridge—it’s a 20-mile blast through gorgeous scenery. If this route is too short for you, turn back around and repeat. You can probably get in a few good runs within the hour.

Although this ride along Falls Lake is more of a drag strip than a long motorcycle route, it does offer beautiful views of the Beaver Dam Lake recreation area. This ride is named after a bridge, which is surrounded by wetlands full of North Carolina wildlife.

The road itself is straight, smooth, clean, and wide open. You’ll notice it slowly descends from atop a hill, and flattens out from the middle to the end. The layout of the road lets you see any oncoming traffic, so don’t be shy with your throttle. Just watch out for deer—they’re a lot more unpredictable than traffic.

You won’t find any amenities out here—it’s nothing but you, your motorcycle, and the road ahead.

5. The Raleigh to Wilmington Run

One-day trip — 143 miles

Top off your North Carolina cruising with a longer motorcycle route, The Raleigh to Wilmington Run. This adventure takes you from Raleigh to the Atlantic coast. Ride through rural farmlands and small towns typical of eastern North Carolina. Once you’re in Holly Ridge or Wilmington, travel to one of the many beaches or islands on the coast. Topsail Beach is right next to Holly Ridge.

This route is in very good shape and easy on traffic. It mostly consists of easily-navigable back roads packed with twisties, so it’s an ideal alternative to the congested main roads between Raleigh and Wilmington (like Route 40). Feel free to blast through some of the tighter corners.

This route isn’t bursting with amenities, but you will frequently find gas stations in the smaller towns you pass. The 40-mile stretch of road out of Wilmington (US 421 N) is pretty bare, so plan to get gas in Wilmington before you leave.

We hope this selection of routes has inspired you to begin planning your next ride around the state. Heading toward Charlotte? Read the Top 5 Motorcycle Routes Near Charlotte, North Carolina to get up to speed on fun rides.

If you’re seeking the most convenient way to rent a motorcycle in North Carolina, Riders Share is the best option. Using this owners-to-renters motorcycle rentals platform, you’ll be able to rent the motorcycle of your dreams without worrying about whether it’ll be in stock by the time you arrive, as often happens with brick-and-mortar rental operations. Once you’ve got the right ride, nothing’s holding you back from conquering the Tar Heel State one road at a time.