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When Jones Beach State Park opened on Long Island’s South Shore in the late 1920s, a series of scenic parkways was built on infill dredged from nearby towns to connect New Yorkers to the new public recreation spot. These scenic byways allow motorists to experience the park even while zipping along the blacktop. The north–south Wantagh State Parkway, terminating at Jones Beach, was the first parkway to be completed. A parallel path was also designed for nonmotorists to access what would quickly become one of the most beloved recreational areas in New York. The beach features historical bathhouses, a wooden boardwalk, an iconic water tower, and a waterfront amphitheater.
The Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway, sometimes referred to as the Jones Beach Bikeway or Wantagh Parkway Shared-Use Path, is a relatively straight and flat path, curving around trees here and there. The challenge in riding it comes from the mild slopes as one approaches the bridges, as well as from the lack of shade on the path.
In Cedar Creek Park, an unassuming opening in the fence serves as the entrance to the north end of the trail. There, an interpretive display tells the history of the parkway’s development. In no time, you will find yourself on the historical byway and, depending on the time of day, in the path of incessant winds. Depending on which direction it’s blowing, the wind may be a challenge or an ally; check the weather forecast before you set off.
The trail’s three bridges offer the best scenery of the journey. In 1.3 miles, the first crossing traverses Flat Creek. The trail narrows, and signs urge users to walk their bikes up the slope and across the bridge, where you’ll catch sight of Seamans Island to the east. The second crossing, over Goose Creek, comes at the 2.5-mile mark. Here, you’ll get glimpses of marsh and tidal flats. Before you reach the final bridge, a detour takes you down to the Green Island Fishing Pier, popular with anglers of all stripes. A state fishing permit can be purchased at the Jones Beach administrative offices. The final bridge on your way south is the drawbridge over Sloop Channel. It has the longest span and widest sea views of the three. White fishing boats dot the water below.
Near the end of the trail, the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater can be seen towering over the trees. As your journey comes to a close, 5.5 miles from where you began, you emerge into the parking lot for the open-air theater. There is a connection along the edge of the lot to Zachs Bay and, a little farther than that, the entrance to the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway, which runs perpendicular to the Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway. You can extend your ride along that trail or head through the underpass for Ocean Parkway to reach Jones Beach, a popular and lively destination.
To reach Cedar Creek Park in Seaford from Southern State Pkwy., take Exit 27S for Wantagh State Pkwy. toward Jones Beach State Park. Go 2.4 miles, keeping right. Take Exit W6 for Merrick Road. Follow it east 0.2 mile. Turn right onto the Cedar Creek Park access road, and travel 0.3 mile south to the Field 1 parking lot. Note that non–Nassau County residents pay a fee to park there on weekends and holidays in summer. The trail can be accessed across the street.
If you choose to start your trail ride from the southern end, you can park at Jones Beach State Park, but be aware that there is an entrance fee. From I-495, take Exit 40W, and head southwest on Jericho Turnpike. Almost immediately, turn left onto Brush Hollow Road. In 0.8 mile, turn left onto Wantagh State Pkwy. toward Jones Beach. In 13.0 miles, at the traffic circle, take the second exit onto Ocean Pkwy. E. Continue 0.8 mile, then make a slight right to enter parking for Field 6. To reach the starting point of the trail, go 0.2 mile along the Jones Beach Boardwalk to the East Bathhouse building. Take the underpass beside the bathhouse across Ocean Pkwy. and onto the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway. Turn left when you emerge from the underpass. The Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway is perpendicular to the greenway and begins where the latter ends, heading north from the Field 5 parking lot.
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