Contributed by Bill Brobst, Wheels of Dare Bicycle Club
Knotts Island is a unique rural environment in northeastern Currituck County, with much of its land devoted to vineyards. It is the home of the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. It is actually detached from North Carolina, surrounded by water on three sides, and bordering only on Virginia’s Pungo area of southern Virginia Beach. It’s not really an island at all, but it just has no direct road access from other parts of North Carolina. Access to Knotts Island is only by either roadway from Virginia or a free ferry from the village of Currituck. Its good roads have little traffic but not much logistical support (i.e., far from bike shops). NC-615 (NC-DOT Bicycle Route 4) runs north from the ferry’s Knotts Landing five miles into Virginia, with some small and interesting side streets. Bicycling here is exceptionally good. One can park at the ferry landing in the Currituck near the Courthouse, take the ferry across, and make a round trip on Knotts Island. The Ferry operates on a schedule, every 1-2 hours. Distance: 10 miles plus the ferry ride. You may also continue north of Knotts Island into the Pungo area for more rural cycling.
For general information on North Carolina ferries, call 800-ByFerry.
Currituck County Mainland
But don’t neglect the Currituck County mainland for bicycling! Stop and buy some of Currituck County’s famous fruits and vegetables. Most of the rural roads do not have wide paved shoulders, though. It’s all flat, so visibility is good in all directions. A county map would be useful for these excursions; obtain one from one of the Currituck County Visitor’s Centers.
Western Currituck County: West of the intersection with NC-168, and reaching off from US-158 are many quiet side roads through rural farming areas and little motor vehicle traffic. Roads with quaint names such as Indiantown Road, Pudding Ridge Road, Bullyard Road, and Four Forks Road are worth exploring by cycle.
Also on the mainland, NCDOT Bicycle Route 4 comes into Currituck County on NC-34 (Scotland Road) from Elizabeth City and continues north to Sligo where it joins NC-168 east/south into Currituck, where it continues via the free ferry onto Knotts Island on NC-615 to the Virginia state line.
The North-South Route: There are three alternate north-south roadways which parallel NC-168 and US-158 and which offer quieter cycling with much less and lower-speed traffic:
- Tulls Creek Bypass: Coming south through Moyock, and 1 ½ miles past the VA-NC state line, Tulls Creek Road angles off to the left from NC-168 at the water tower, crosses the historic Shingle Landing Creek Bridge, passes the Moyock Elementary School, and later crosses over Tulls Creek and the Tulls Creek Swamp, and continues on into the village of Currituck where it rejoins NC-168 at another water tower. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, Tulls Creek Road angles off to the right at the water tower in the village of Currituck and ends at the water tower in Moyock. Bypass distance 11 miles.
- Aydlett Bypass: In the village of Coinjock, beginning just a mile south of the Knapp Bridge over the Intracostal Waterway, with the North River Game Land on your right (deer, bear, turkeys, other wild game), turn left off from US-158 onto Aydlett Road, through the Maple Swamp, then at the village of Aydlett curve around southward through the village of Poplar Branch, continuing south on Poplar Branch Road into Grandy where it intersects with US-158. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, half-way through Grandy, bear to the right at the traffic light onto Poplar Branch Road. Continue north to Aydlett then curve left back to US-158. Bypass distance 6 miles.
- Grandy Bypass: Beginning in Grandy, just 1/4 mile west of the intersection of Poplar Branch Road and US-158, turn left on Grandy Road to the end at Fisher Landing Road, then turn left to US-158, turn right. There is no paved shoulder, but turns are gradual and there is good visibility in both directions. 35-45 mph speed limit. From the south, turn left just past Forbes Road at the Post Office and restaurant onto Fisher Landing Road for a half-mile, then right on Grandy Road to US-158. Bypass distance 4 miles. To continue north on the Aydlett Bypass, turn right on US-158 for 1/4 mile to the traffic light, then turn left onto Poplar Branch Road.
There are three excellent short side trips off from the highways on the mainland, one off from NC-168 and two off from US-158:
Bell’s Island: Just a mile south of the Currituck ferry landing on NC-168, take Bells Island Road east along the causeway and little bridge and onto Bells Island with its pretty residential neighborhood; very little traffic and lots of quiet side streets. Distance 6 miles round trip.
Waterlily: Immediately after crossing the Knapp Bridge on US-158 over the Intracostal Waterway southbound, take Waterlilly Road northeast past the little village of Waterlilly all the way to the campground at the north end; very little traffic. Distance 14 miles round trip.
Indiantown Road: A great ride is off from US-158, at the west end of Currituck County toward Elizabeth City. Turn south on Indiantown Road and straight onto Sandy Hook Road and Texas Road in Camden County, along the North River Game Lane, past Riddle, Old Trap, and Goose Creek, all the way south to Camden Point on the Albemarle Sound. Distance 31 miles round trip.