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The Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway travels 8.7 miles alongside the picturesque beaches and historical monuments of the Sandy Hook peninsula. The pathway begins in the Gateway National Recreation Area and loops around the historic Fort Hancock. Traveling south alongside Hartshorne Drive/Ocean Avenue, the route also offers beach access and unique glimpses of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the United States.
Fort Hancock is a former U.S. Army installation that housed 12,000 soldiers at its peak during World War II. The fort was built to protect New York Harbor, but its uses have changed over time. Once deactivated, the fort was turned over to the National Park Service (NPS), eventually becoming part of the three-part Gateway National Recreation Area, where former landfills have been converted into wildlife habitat and recreation areas.
The northern trailhead is east of the intersection of Atlantic Drive and Ford Road, with parking in nearby Lot G. This trailhead features beach access, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a bike-maintenance station, as well as food trucks throughout the summer.
Starting at the northern trailhead, you’ll find sand dunes and trees that provide small pockets of shade throughout the ride. Immediately before Ford Road, the trail diverges into two pathways. The multiuse path continues to the right. To the left a bike path follows Knox Road and features a sandy outdoor gym area with exercise equipment. The two pathways converge at the intersection of South Bragg Drive and Knox Road. This northern portion of the peninsula also houses an array of unnamed multiuse trails that split off from the Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway.
The pathway continues toward the western edge of the peninsula to loop around Fort Hancock. Here, the trail winds past Sandy Hook Chapel to the right and History House to the left, a lieutenant’s quarters built in 1898 that the NPS maintains to depict an officer’s life at Fort Hancock during World War II. Heading south, the pathway follows the shoreline, providing a beautiful view of the Sandy Hook Bay. About 0.7 mile south of Sandy Hook Chapel, you will pass Guardian Park and two Nike missiles, honoring the Cold War missile men of the U.S. Army.
Continuing to follow Hartshorne Drive 4.5 miles from the missiles, the sun-dappled pathway travels south past various beaches with public access until Hartshorne Drive merges with Ocean Avenue. Here, the trail travels adjacent to the road past private beaches and residential homes. The trail ends just before Anchorage Beach, which lies 0.3 mile south of the terminus. The beach features public parking, outdoor showers, restrooms, and public beach access for a fee.
To reach parking near the northern endpoint in the Gateway National Recreation Area, take I-195 E to its end, and near mile marker 36, exit onto Garden State Pkwy. Keep left to head north on the parkway, and go 11.5 miles. Take Exit 109, and continue straight (slight left) onto Half Mile Road. In 0.6 mile turn right onto W. Front St., and go 0.8 mile. Turn left onto Hubbard Ave., and go 0.6 mile. Turn right onto Navesink River Road, which curves left and becomes Locust Point Road in 4.4 miles. In 0.5 mile continue straight onto Locust Ave., and go 0.4 mile. Turn right onto Monmouth Ave., which almost immediately curves left and becomes Navesink Ave. In 0.9 mile turn right onto NJ 36 S. Go 1.7 miles to the Sandy Hook peninsula, and make a slight right to loop around and head north on Ocean Ave./Hartshorne Dr., which continues 3.5 miles straight into the Gateway National Recreation Area (note that there is a $15 entry fee to enter the park). Take a right onto Atlantic Dr., and follow it 1.2 miles to Lot G on the left. The trailhead is located across Atlantic Dr., behind a restroom building to the left.
To reach the closest parking to the southern endpoint, follow the directions above to the Sandy Hook peninsula, and make a slight right to loop around and head north on Ocean Ave./Hartshorne Dr. In 0.2 mile, take a right off Hartshorne Dr. into Lot A.
Went on OCT 6 on an absolutely beautiful fall day. The trail is easy but there are so many side trails and that you keep riding through Sea Breeze that we put in 18+ miles in two hours. Lots of access to virtually empty beaches on both sides of the peninsula for relaxing and fishing. No swimming though. We plan to come back to not only ride again but to bring the beach and the fishing gear. It is a gem in one of the most highly populated areas of the US.
Where is the best place to park at the trail Head?
There is nothing interesting to explore here IMO. Btw there is no shade so it’s extremely hot in summers.
This might be my new favorite summer bike-path. We visited twice within the last month, both times on the weekend and since the trail features beach access (for a stretch on both sides of the path) the area is busy with beach goers. The traffic across the path is limited mostly to the parking areas so it’s not much of a nuisance and the bike have wasn’t that busy both times we went (late afternoon/evening). The path is smooth, the scenery is beautiful and you can have a picnic on the beach and take a dip at the end of the ride - what more can one ask for? The only warning I have is that on a weekend you might get stuck in traffic if you plan to park at the park, so consider street parking before getting to the bridge and biking/walking the distance.
I suggest get there early as the park tends to fill up rather quick the trail is paved so smooth sailing it was nice to get out of NYC and have people say good morning as you pass them on the trail a lot of history here so what are you waiting for.M
First time and not the last time !!
We’re planning on going tomorrow. Where is the best spot to park and start the trail? Thanks!
Great place to ride and smell, see and overall experience the ocean with a view of Manhattan.
Nice easy path. Just watch out for pedestrians!
Absolutely love this trail. First off, get there early. Sandy Hook is a popular place and after 9 on the weekends there will be a wait at the entrance to get in.
You can park anywhere and jump on the trail. It's paved and a smooth ride. The view is great and changes from water to trees and back. There aren't really any hills to worry about so it's mostly easy pedaling.
I usually rig a chair to the bike and stop off on the bay side to relax for bit.
A smooth, easy ride with lots of good scenery. Perfect ride before a dip in the ocean. A really nice day.
Dateline August 14, 2017. Sunny, in the 80's.
A flat, well-paved, off-road path that goes by uncrowded beaches and historic buildings used during wartime. There is a tower (slightly off-path) for better views and if you look north from almost anywhere you can see the Manhattan skyline. What a perfect ride I had followed by a dip in the ocean. Perfect!
What is more fun than cycling in the forest, beach, and ruins of a foregone past? I was virtually alone on an early August weekday that was overcast. I only wish I had my own bike instead of the cruisers they rent here, but it was a new experience and serviceable for this short ride.
Nice, dedicated bike trails on Sandy Hook, but there is no signage along the route. It is very difficult to navigate, but the views are very nice in spots.
Nice views of the beaches and the old fort
I rode this trail last August very easy-going beautiful scenery great beaches. Many historical sites to see. I would definitely check out Gunnison beach. Plenty of bike racks to lock your bike up just bring a towel bathing suits are more of a suggestion then A necessity
My wife and I did this trail on a weekday in August.
We started in parking lot D, then rode north to the lighthouse, and then we turned around and continued to ride into Sea Bright. The trail was great, open, and pretty empty on a weekday. I would imagine it is packed on the weekends, especially in summer. It is flat, for the most part open, and there are rest rooms along the way. We had lunch in Sea Bright, and then returned to our car. Overall, a very picturesque and relaxing ride. I would recommend it highly.
My hubby and I loved this bike trail. We just purchased 2 folding bikes and wanted to try them out. We biked only 2 miles but it was awesome. The rest stops were great. Food trucks were available for lunch. We had kona ice and reminded us of Hawaii. To get into the park, we paid $15 and we had access to the bike trail, beach entrance and parking. I think that cost is reasonable. Great place for kids and dogs. We than took a drive further into the park. Beautiful scenery. We are looking forward to doing this in the fall when it us cooler.
very nice and easy trail. Some parts, there is a great view of the ocean, other parts the bay. If you go, especially during the summer, you must get there early. At some point the park was closed because they ran out of parking spots. If you go just for biking, the entrance is free. If you want the beach, there is a $15 entrance fee. Bottom line, it was fun
This is a very interesting trail. It has many personalities. We started at the southern end of the trail in Sea Bright. It's a bit confusing near the bridge in Sea Bright. It looks like the trail isn't continuous at this point, but it is - just keep going straight. The trail follows the coast for a while, enters a wooded area, then passes through the Fort Hamilton Historic District. This is the area in which the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest continuously running lighthouse, is located. There are numerous gun batteries in this area. If you're a fan of history and photographing abandoned structures, this is the trail for you. There are several small offshoot trails that eventually lead back to the main trail. There were very few people on the trail in the winter. I'm sure the summer is a different story.
How can anyone rate this less than 5 stars!? There is parking everywhere and it's free even in the summer if you park at Fort Hancock. Including the main trail and its offshoots- then combine a couple greenway miles in Sea Bright (south of the park)- you will do the easiest 20 miles possible. The scenery is magnificent and the trail is paved and maintained. It's the best in NJ.
The trail is smooth, flat and well maintaned with nice scenery and historical points if interest. This being part of the NPS, there are plenty of amenities such as bathrooms, food vendors and bicycle rentals. A great trail for families with young bicyclists.
Had a great time on this trail; Definitely comfortable, and can accommodate the less experienced riders.
Getting to the actual start of the trail was a bit of a chore, because we arrived a little later on in the day (around 1:30pm) on what was a perfect beach day (85 degrees and sunny on a summer Saturday); so the beach was crowded, and there was really no where to park / no designated parking.
I suppose if we were to park at the actual beach, then perhaps the beginning of the trail would be just a little further north of that point? I just don't think there's a big yellow sign stating "trail starts here" in the main parking area for the beach - we never made it into the main parking area.
Regardless, we found parking on a side street but had to then cross a busy street w/ a medium to get to the ocean side, which is where the trail is.
Anyway, from that point it was smooth sailing and the trail itself is quite nice, and i'd love to do it again.
The trail was lacking some signs however and as there are several attractions to take notice to along the way, there are no real set signs pointing you in the direction to go, so it's easy to accidentally make a wrong turn and head back in the wrong direction... not the worst thing in the world tho.
This was our first big ride on our bikes, and it was a great choice! On an off-season weekday, there were just enough other people there that it didn't feel abandoned.
We're new to biking but had been taking cycling classes to get in shape. We were ready to be done by the end (riding into the wind most of the way back didn't help), but it was still doable as novice riders.
I was absolutely blown away by the scenery! We stopped briefly to look at the fort and lighthouse, but mostly left that to be explored on a later trip.
Parking (2015 season) is $15/day and $75/season, Memorial Day to Labor Day. We plan to do per-day this summer, as we are new to biking and want to try out several spots. We may try a season pass in the future.
Last Year I did the Henry Hudson Trail and while in the area I did this Trail. I am not a Greenway fan It was hard not to give this trail a try and it is a beautiful ride. If you are in the area make sure you give this trail a try.
The Sandy Hook trail is one of my favorites for bike riding and we have been going there for the last 6 years. The entire path is paved and relatively flat with only a few minor inclines and declines. We usually park a few miles south in Sea Bright and take the path north to the top of Sandy Hook at Fort Hancock. Most weekends from Spring to Fall there is always something to see at Fort Hancock. There are guided tours of some of the historic buildings at the fort and the lighthouse also has tours. Check their website to see when the tours are. The only tricky thing about Sandy Hook is the wind. If it is blowing above 5-10 mph it can make the ride somewhat difficult depending on which direction it is blowing. Check the weather conditions for Sea Bright which is the closest town and just south of Sandy Hook. Parking is free at Sandy Hook before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. We took a first timer out last weekend who had never gone 15 miles before. Perfect for the beginner or for families to ride together.
This is a beautiful trail to ride in the summer. It's not that crowded and the scenery is great. Be sure to check the wind conditions before heading out there in the winter.
Had a great ride on Saturday, Nov 2. This is a great off-season ride (non-beach season). The scenery was fantastic, part beachside and part woodsy. The surface is flat although the path is a bit narrow. It got quite busy with families in the afternoon since the weather was hot and sunny. The parking is abundant in the many parking lots and there is no fee during the off season. You can bring your lunch and eat at the tables at the various restroom stops or at the picnic area at Fort Hancock facing the water. There are many road cyclists who bike on the road alongside the path. I would highly recommend this path. I am surprised there are not more reviews for such a great path.
Now is a great time to visit Sandy Hook and ride the wonderful trail there. Summer beach goers are gone, so there is plenty of parking and the path is not crowded. The weather is just right for riding: it's not too hot and not too cold to enjoy both the shaded parts as well as sections that are out in the open. The scenery is fantastic and varied, and there are places to explore along the way.
I rode the trail today and greatly enjoyed it. They stop charging entrance fees after Labor Day. Previously I used to park at the lot A, which is right past the toll booths, but today that lot was full. No worries - plenty of space at lot B, hopped by my bike and rode all the way to North Beach and back, which is about 5 or 6 miles one way.
I would recommend having some warm clothes with you when going to Sandy Hook. The wind when you're right near the ocean can be quite intense, especially when you're riding against it.
Last time I was at Sandy Hook was before Memorial Day. Back then some areas of the trail still had damage from Hurricane Sandy. Some sections were completely covered by sand. Today I could see that a lot of work was done to restore the pavement: previously damaged sections had freshly laid asphalt and it was no longer necessary to take any detours into parking lots or roads. Overall the condition of the pavement is excellent: there are small breaks here or there, but it didn't affect the quality of the ride at all.
The scenery along the trail is nothing short of phenomenal. You start your ride along ocean beaches, then come into park setting with lovely greenery, pretty flowers and nice shaded alleys. Eventually you reach historic Fort Hancock, where you enjoy the view of the rocky ocean shore on one side and a historic village on the other side of the trail. You see military artifacts along the way; and the trail ends at North Beach when you reach cannon installations. You can climb those and take in the view of Manhattan skyline; there is also an observation deck at the beach just before North Beach, the name of which I didn't capture. There are restrooms at the end of the trail.
In my opinion wonderful scenery with great views, plentiful trail length, an opportunity to breathe fresh ocean air and proximity to New York City and Northern New Jersey make Sandy Hook a must to check out. I also think that now is just the perfect time of the year to do so.
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