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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.
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