The Gateway National Recreation Area's three Park units are easily accessible by bicycle, public transportation and by car if you must. See specific trail pages listed above for directions.
The Gateway NRA was one of the first urban parks in the National Park System. It was molded out of cexisting city parkland, former military sites and undeveloped tracts of land. Today it encompasses over 26,000 acres. The Gateway National Recreation Area is comprised of three distinct units that circle the greater New York harbor -- Staten Island Park Unit, Jamaica Bay Park Unit and Sandy Hook Park Unit. Bbicycling is one of the best ways to explore these three areas. All parks units have multi-use greenways and pathways that lead to sandy beaches, historic sites, natural areas and other park highlights.
The core mission of the natioanl park is to promote connections between ecological and urban systems, while preserving habitats that support a healthy wildlife population. The entire Gateway Recreation Area is a birding hotspot. Over 330 species of birds use the park as a stop over during spring and fall migration. It's like Grand Central Station during rush hour.
The Gateway National Recreation Area provides a welcome "quality of life factor" for New York City and New Jersey residents. After all this is one of the most condensed urban corridors in the country. Whether your interests are nature and ecology, history, the arts, education, sports or other forms of rrrecreation, the Gateway NRA has it all. Recreational opportunities include ocean swimming, boating, sunbathing, picnicking, fishing, jogging, hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching and of course, mountain biking and cycling.
Jamaica Bay Park Unit
While all three units of the Gateway National Park System are great places to bike, The Jamaica Bay Unit is one of our favorite places to ride when we need the perfect antidote to city life and don't want to travel far. You'll often find us cycling along the paved multi-use Rockaway Gateway Greenway Bike Path, mountain biking the wooded Fort Tilden Trails through the maritime forest in the back fort area of Fort Tilden or cruising along the historic runways at Floyd Bennett Field before we head to the beach at Jacob Riis Park or Fort Tllden. We've included interactive photo slideshows with each of our trail articles, including our trip to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
The 18.000 acre Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area, straddling the border between Brooklyn and Queens and New York, is a special complex of natural resources, military history and recreational opportunities. It is also the largest and most productive coastal ecosystems in the northeast despite it's location near intense urban development, including adjacent JFK International Airport.
The Brooklyn coastal region rivals any on the east coast for it's diversity of bird life, especially during spring and fall bird migrations. Exhausted birds land here for rest, refueling and protection. The many coves, inlets and inner bays provide a safe haven for waterfowl. It includes districts at Floyd Bennett Field, Riis Park, Fort Tilden and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. There are numerous species of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees. In the Spring, wildflowers blanket the grasslands and the colors are constantly changing. In late summer the shrubs are laden with ripe fruit and a variety of berries in striking hues.
You can explore both natural and historic areas, as well as enjoy great recreational opportunities. Highlights include New York City's first major airport (Floyd Bennett Field), coastal fortifications (Fort Tilden), an important wildlife refuge, coastal habitats and beautiful ocean beaches. All are easily accessed by bicycle along the extensive Greenway and Trail System.
Staten Island Park UnitThe Staten Island Unit offers a wide range of recreational activities, a history dating back to its Dutch settlement and a variety of different natural habitats. City and park bike lanes provide access between park sections. Miller Field is a 187 acre open space for organized sports. Great Kills Park, on the southeastern tip, offers a quiet coastal environment. Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military sites in the country and an important part of the Harbor Defense System. It is also the gathering point for the start of the annual New York City Marathon race.
Sandy Hook Park UnitThe Sandy Hook Unit , on the New Jersey shore, offers ocean beaches, salt marshes and a holly forest. It has some of the best bird habitat in the state with a center operated by the NJ Audobon Society. History buffs can explore Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Proving Grounds. Harbor seals can be seen lolling on sandbars in Sandy Hook Bay during the winter. The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest in the country.
The Sandy Hook Bike Path is a paved bike path runs for 6 miles along the entire length of the peninsula with views across the bay to Manhattan and Long Island.
Note: Ranger led field experiences are available at all three Gateway park units. A program guide is available for each unit. It lists the extensive program of activities offered in addition to any organizations and concessions. For seasonal program guides visit the Gateway website listed below.
Gateway National Recreation Area
Phone: (718) 718.354.4606