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The two diverse sections of the Shore Parkway Greenway Trail blend urban and scenic, offering views of sights ranging from the Statue of Liberty to wildlife refuges. Following the Belt/Shore Parkway, users can expect to witness takeoffs and landings at the nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport; cargo liners along Jamaica Bay; and a number of beaches, salt marshes, freshwater ponds, and maritime forests.
Howard Beach to Brooklyn: 7.9 miles
At nearly 8 miles, the longer eastern segment follows the Belt/Shore Parkway southwest from Howard Beach to Brooklyn. Although this section is paved, it contains steep slopes and bridges that make it unsuitable for wheelchair users. The shadeless concrete surface could be useful for athletic training or commuting purposes. Note that the first parking area for this segment is located 3 miles into the trail, at Canarsie Pier.
From its beginning at 84th Street, the trail parallels the parkway, passing Spring Creek Park on the left in 0.4 mile. This stretch of trail can become quite noisy and unpleasant at times, as it closely follows the parkway. The water and greenery on the opposite side of the trail provide some relief, although smells from the Fountain Avenue Landfill natural restoration area can be overwhelming.
From Canarsie Pier, you can find parking, restrooms, and a drinking fountain. Continuing down the trail, you’ll pass several parks and recreation areas around mile 5, including Four Sparrow Marsh and the North Forty Natural Area in Floyd Bennett Field. This historical (now deactivated) airfield provides users the exciting experience of biking along its runways. The field is located within the three-part Gateway National Recreation Area, where former landfills have been converted into wildlife habitat and recreation areas. The area makes up a significant part of the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds.
Exiting this area, you’ll reach a signaled crossing for the high-speed Flatbush Avenue, which can be dangerous. The crossing also intersects the 1.4-mile Flatbush Avenue Greenway. Toward the end of the eastern segment, the trail connects to Plumb Beach, where parking is available. In 0.5 mile the trail ends at Brigham Street, across from several hotels.
Bensonhurst Park to Owl’s Head Park: 5.1 miles
The shorter western section in Brooklyn begins at Bensonhurst Park and extends just over 5 miles north to Owl’s Head Park. This segment along Upper New York Bay is the more scenic of the two, providing impressive views of Coney Island, the historical Fort Hamilton Army Base, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth and Battery Weed, the Statue of Liberty, and One World Trade Center.
The fully paved trail is wheelchair accessible, with separate sections for cyclists and pedestrians. There are several restrooms, benches, and parking areas along this stretch, which is heavily used by families, children, professional athletes, and everyone in between. The views and facilities make it worth the ride.
Eastern Segment: Several buses from Queens stop at 84th St. and 157th Ave., less than a block away from the easternmost terminus. For more information on bus routes, visit the Metropolitan Transportation Authority website.
To access parking at Canarsie Pier from Belt/Shore Pkwy., take Exit 13 toward Rockaway Pkwy. If heading southbound, merge onto Shore Pkwy., and turn left onto Rockaway Pkwy. In 300 feet take the first exit at the traffic circle, and turn left in 0.1 mile. If heading northbound, take the first exit at the traffic circle, and turn left in several hundred feet. Head into the Canarsie Pier parking area.
Parking is also available at Plumb Beach. Located on Plumb Island, the beach is just off Belt/Shore Pkwy., east of Exit 9 or 9B toward Knapp St./Sheepshead Bay.
Western Segment: Subway riders can take the R train to the Bay Ridge Ave. station. The westernmost terminus is at the southwest corner of Owl’s Head Park (53 68th St.), about four blocks away.
To access parking near the middle of the western trail segment from Belt/Shore Pkwy., head to where Belt/Shore Pkwy. travels beneath the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Take Exit 2 to merge onto Fourth Ave. toward Fort Hamilton Pkwy. In 0.2 mile turn left onto Shore Road. Trail parking is located on the left at the Shore Road Park and Parkway.
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