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Like Wantagh State Parkway, Ocean Parkway was built in the postwar 1930s to provide access to the crown jewel of the state park system, Jones Beach State Park. Unlike the former road, however, this one travels east–west and only recently added a pathway for nonmotorized traffic. The Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway currently parallels its namesake roadway nearly 14 miles between the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater and the town of Oyster Bay, with a 10-mile extension out to Captree State Park having opened in 2021.
The trail begins where the Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway ends, at Zachs Bay. The trail borders the northern side of the parkway, separated from the road by a grassy median and guardrail. The bay is to your left for about the first third of your journey. As you set off, you get a postcard-perfect panorama of the theater sitting right on the edge of the water, but the vegetation soon rises high enough to form a screen.
As you ride on, the vegetation flattens out in places, opening up views of the marshland beyond. Mile markers painted on the asphalt help you keep track of how far you’ve gone. About midway, a Jones Beach State Park sign appears in the park’s signature Art Deco style, a style that is echoed in many of the park’s other structures, including the iconic Jones Beach Water Tower, looming to the west of the trail.
The trail continues out to Tobay Beach in the town of Oyster Bay. Bikes are prohibited on the beach, but there’s plenty of bike parking outside the turnstile entryway. Tobay Beach features restaurants, a water park, and a marina. On weekends and holidays the beach is for town residents only, but nonresidents can access it for a fee on weekdays.
As of 2021, the trail has been extended all the way out to the eastern end of the island at Captree State Park, with bike parking available along the way at the state park as well as Gilgo Beach and the Cedar Beach Marina, allowing trail users to easily make a stop for some fun in the sun along the water.
You can extend your ride by continuing on the Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway north from Field 5 in Jones Beach State Park to Cedar Creek Park in Seaport. Alternatively, you could choose to combine your ride with a beach day and use the tunnels near the western endpoint of the trail to cross underneath Ocean Parkway and reach the Jones Beach Boardwalk. Bicyclists must go slowly on the boardwalk, as it tends to be teeming with enthusiastic beachgoers.
Parking available at Jones Beach State Park (1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh). To access the western end of the trail from I-495 E, take Exit 38 for Northern State Pkwy. Merge onto Northern State Pkwy., and travel 1.6 miles to Exit 31A for Jones Beach. You will now be traveling south on Meadowbrook State Pkwy. Continue 12.8 miles, then cross Jones Bay. Shortly after crossing the water, the road becomes Ocean Pkwy. Travel east on Ocean Pkwy. 2.4 miles to reach the entrance to Field 6 in Jones Beach State Park, which will be on your right. Note that there is an entrance fee for the park. Once parked, use the tunnel near the East Bathhouse to head under Ocean Pkwy. and access the trail on the other side. Turn right on the trail to travel on the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway (turning left will put you on the Jones Beach Bikeway going north).
For nonresidents, parking on the east end of the trail at Tobay Beach in Oyster Bay may be prohibitively expensive ($50), with limited availability (only weekdays) during the summer season. Therefore, visitors may prefer to park on the west end of the trail.
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