Neuse River Trail Extension Feasibility Study - Final Report and Project Outline

OverviewScheduleStudy Area Map | Final Report

Project Overview

The proposed Neuse River Trail is a 15-mile corridor in Johnston County connecting existing greenways in Clayton and Smithfield. The proposed trail is a critical missing link in the regional greenway network and is the identified corridor for gap segments of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and East Coast Greenway.  The Johnston County Neuse River Trail Feasibility Study will evaluate potential route scenarios along roadway corridors and the Neuse River to determine the preferred route. The study will also develop cost estimates and an implementation plan to construct the trail.


The project is led by Upper Coastal Plain Rural Planning Organization (RPO), Johnston County, and NCDOT. Supporting agencies involved in the study are NC State Trails, Town of Clayton, Town of Smithfield, Town of Wilson’s Mills, Town of Selma, Friends of Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and East Coast Greenway Alliance.


About the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The Mountains to Sea State Trail (MST) is North Carolina’s flagship state trail. It stretches from Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockeys Ridge State Park on the coast. The original route of the MST, which roughly follows the Neuse River from Wake County east to New Bern, is over 57% complete. The trail, from Johnston County east to Carteret County, has been envisioned as a multi-use path suitable for bicycles and pedestrians.  Connecting existing segments in Clayton and Smithfield will provide a route, completely off-road, from Hillsborough to Smithfield. 


About the East Coast Greenway

The East Coast Greenway is a 3,000-mile walking and biking route from Maine to Florida that connects major cities, small towns, and parklands along the Eastern Seaboard. In North Carolina, the ECG route passes through the cities of Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Wilmington and primarily follows the Neuse River and Cape Fear River corridors across the state. The ECG is currently 32% complete. The longest continuous stretch of completed trails is in North Carolina, which is comprised of the 72-mile span of greenways and trails through Durham, Wake, and Johnston Counties. The proposed trail extension along the Neuse River aims to expand the connected greenway network in the region to over 90 miles, stretching from Durham to Smithfield.  


Project Schedule

Project schedule timeline

Text Version of Project Schedule graphic 

  1. December 2021 - Feb 2022: Study Considerations
    1. Data Gathering -> Site Visit + Field Work -> Mapping Analysis -> Working Group Meetings -> Stakeholder Meetings
  2. February - April 2022: Route Analysis
    1. Route Alternatives -> Evaluation Methodology -> Route Decision Matrix -> Working Group Meetings -> Landowner Meetings
  3. March - April 2022: Study Recommendations
    1. Recommended Routes -> Typical Cross Sections -> Intersection Treatments -> Working Group Meetings -> Public Meeting
  4. May- July 2022: Implementation + Field Study
    1. Draft Study + Refinement -> Project Phasing + Cut Sheets -> Working Group Meetings -> Commissioners Presentation -> Study Adoption

Study Area Map

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Preliminary Map

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - All Routes

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Route-A

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Route B

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Route C

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Route D

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Considered Segments

PDF Map File: Neuse River Trail Extension - Survey Destinations

Information about Greenways and Trails

PDF: General Greenway Characteristics & Features

PDF: Different Types of Typical Trail Section Designs




Final Report

PDF: Neuse River Trail Study Final Report





Group meeting pic 1


Group meeting pic 2


Group meeting pic 3


Group meeting pic 4


Group meeting pic 5


Group meeting pic 6


Group meeting pic 7


Group meeting pic 8


 Group meeting pic 9



Page last updated: January 12, 2024

Johnston County Parks and Recreation Logo