In the beginning, the Blue Cay Trail network was the domain of mountain bikers. And it wasn’t exactly a legal domain; more of a recreational eminent domain. But thanks to the efforts of the Cape Fear Cyclists working with New Hanover County, that changed several years ago. Today, the roughly 7 miles of singletrack trail at Blue Cay are legal; you may now frolic on them hassle-free.

They are, however, still the domain of mountain bikers. That means two things: One, the trails are closed when wet to minimize erosion. If in doubt, check the Web site before heading out. And two, most of the folks you encounter will be going significantly faster than you. One way to minimize user conflicts: Check at the trailhead for the current riding direction (clockwise or counter clockwise, it changes about every six months) and run in the opposite direction (you’ll see the bikers coming in plenty of time to take evasive action).

Part of the network is relatively flat, passing through wetlands on elevated boardwalk. Part of the network is hilly, a feat aided by the fact it is built on an old landfill. The lower-lying sections in particular are rooty: watch your step. Because the network was designed for mountain biking, you’ll find a lot of quick twists and turns: don’t be surprised if your wristwatch GPS shorts you on mileage at Blue Cay.

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Getting there from downtown Wilmington
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 15 minutes from downtown
Length: 7 miles
Time to complete: 1-2.5 hours
Address: 3950 Juvenile Center Road
City: Castle Hayne
State: N.C.
Zip: 28429
Latitude: 34.1929
Longitude: 77.5354