Creative Ways to Get to Dix Park by Bike + What to Do There

Dix Park is a destination meant to be biked—here, tips on how + where to explore.

If you’re not biking to Dix Park, you’re doing it wrong. And man-about-town Nick Neptune agrees. As director of outreach for the Dix Park Conservancy, board chair and president of Oaks & Spokes Raleigh’s bicycling and sustainable transportation advocacy nonprofit), and commissioner and vice chairman of the City of Raleigh’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, Neptune’s biggest passions are Dix Park and biking. He also works with the City of Raleigh, donors and volunteers to ensure Dix continues to thrive as a remarkable space for all, no matter how you get there. 

Here, the passionate pedaler merges his two callings, showcasing Dix Park as a biking destination and providing a plethora of reasons to roll up to the 308-acre campus on DTR’s western edge.  

How accessible is Dix Park by bike from all directions?

Dix Park currently benefits from connectivity around its northern and eastern edges courtesy of Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenway system, and, specifically, the Rocky Branch Trail—which has access to Pullen Park, Boylan Heights and a number of shops and spaces along Downtown Raleigh’s southernmost edge. To the west, Dix Park is buffered by NC State’s Centennial Campus, including the Centennial Bikeway Connector running along the perimeter.

At the southernmost edge along Lake Wheeler Road—from the State Farmers Market to the intersection at South Saunders—the city is leading a massive improvement project including the addition of sidewalks, shared paths and bike-only facilities. Various other features like roundabouts and raised medians will help slow vehicular traffic, with construction slated to begin in spring 2025. 

Fave pit stops on these different routes? 

Between Boylan Heights and the southernmost edge of Downtown Raleigh, favorites include: 

Tell us about the NCMA to Dix Park bike connection and why it’s important? 

It’s just over 5 miles and about a 35-minute bike ride spanning Rocky Branch Greenway and Reedy Creek Trail. NTM biking is affordable, healthy and sustainable, thus, ensuring and improving bicycle connectivity between NCMA and Dix Park is as much about reinvesting in our collective civic health and social cohesion as it is about simply sharing the joys, pleasures and benefits of art and the natural environment. 

Nick Neptune
Nick Neptune

Any updates on the connection between Chavis Park and Dix Park? 

The Chavis-Dix Strollway, a vastly improved multimodal, people-oriented corridor connecting two significant Raleigh landscapes, is also intended to contribute to a citywide bike system as a safe connection for cyclists traveling east to west through this area along the southern edge of Downtown. 

The project design will be influenced by a current study of the overall mobility and active transportation networks of Downtown Raleigh, along with the planned expansion of the Raleigh Convention Center. Following the final recommendations of the Downtown Mobility Study (expected spring 2025), more progress can be anticipated.

Note: Anyone interested in participating in Raleigh Transportation’s Downtown Mobility Study should join the first touchpoint and public engagement session May 29 at Raleigh Union Station from 4–7pm. 

How do you recommend first-timers spend their initial visit to Dix Park?

Starting in June, stop by the Gatekeeper’s Cottage to get oriented via maps, program guides and helpful staff. The cottage is also one of three historic buildings on campus undergoing a $5 million preservation and restoration project being led by the Dix Park Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Raleigh, with financial support from the State Employees’ Credit Union and Foundation. 

Then opt for a leisurely walk of Dix Park from east to west along Umstead Drive, with stops at: 

  • The Chapel (open weekends; features an ornate mural in the lobby illustrating the landscape’s past, present and future by NC artist Christopher Holt; public restrooms available)
  • Flowers Cottage (great views of Downtown, myriad free public event and programs) 

And some hidden gems for Dix Park regulars? 

Many longtime visitors to Dix Park continue to be surprised by our Hammock Groves tucked away in the trees in three serene locations across the park. Another little-known treat for veteran visitors would be the celebrated garden in the back of The Chapel. Maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers, the garden has been a beloved and calming space for many since its original planting in the late 1950s. To boot, The Dix Park Conservancy, in partnership with the City of Raleigh, is spearheading an update and renovation later this year to transform this space into a fully modern Healing Garden.

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.