Sandy Hook [Gateway National Recreation Area]


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Park Overview:

With all the beach-goers, summer weekends can be busy.   Hikers will find trails, a multi-use pathway, and ocean beaches open for walking.

Trail Uses:Hiking, Mountain biking
Dogs:See park description
Trail Miles:8 miles
Park Acreage:2044 acres
Fort Hancock/Monmouth/NJ
Web Map:Brochure and Trail Map
Park Description:

Sandy Hook is a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, created by Congress in 1972 to provide parkland around New York Harbor - the gateway through which millions of immigrants entered the New World.  The park includes six miles of ocean beaches, the waters of Sandy Hook Bay, salt marshes, hiking trails, shorebird habitat, historic Fort Hancock, and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse [the oldest in the United States].   There is a parking fee for beach access parking lots from Memorial Day to Labor Day [see the park's web page below under Contact Information for particulars].

The New Jersey Audubon Society operates the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory in one of New Jersey's best year-around birding locations.

Pets are allowed only on leashes, with additional restrictions at some times and places. Click here to learn more.


Share your favorite hike(s) with Trail Conference web site visitors. We are especially interested in hikes from The Jersey Shore Region where this park is located. Click for further information and a submission form.


Trails Overview:

The beaches attract hordes of sunbathers during the summer.  However, the off-season visitor can use those same beaches for flying kites, walking, and fishing.  During the spring and summer shorebird nesting season some areas are closed.

A 5.5-mile-long paved multi-use trail, open to hikers, joggers, and bicyclists, extends from the tolls booths at the southern end of the park to Fort Hancock on the northern end, running between the main park road and the ocean for most of the way.

The Spermaceti Cove Visitor Center offers ranger-led historical and natural interpretive programs.  From this site the one-mile Old Dune Trail meanders north through heather and bayberry to a portion of the Holly Forest.

The Fisherman's Trail starts at the Area K lot, at the northern end of the park, and leads 1.5 miles to the tip of Sandy Hook at the ocean shore.  An observation deck, one of four in the park, reached at 0.5 mile, offers a view of the Manhattan skyline.

For "Planning Your Visit" map with hiking trails of Sandy Hook click here.


Take the Garden State Parkway to Exit 117, and continue on NJ 36 East for 13.5 miles, following signs to the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Public transportation is possible by bus, train, or ferry.

Contact Information:Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook Unit
Region:Jersey Shore
Fees:Some times and places; check with park

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Hurricane Sandy Impact

Click for official information concerning what is closed and what is open at Gateway National Recreation Area.

Also see "Gateway Recreation Area, Most of It Still Closed After Storm, Faces Long Recovery," New York Times, December 11, 2012 (p. A28).