Explore a forest growing on New York City's first airport, the ruins of an abandoned building, and shoreline on Jamaica Bay -- all within an urban national park.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Map: See bottom of page
Take the 2 or 5 train to their last stop, Flatbush Avenue. Catch the Q35 bus, which stops in front of Target on Avenue H. Get off the bus at Floyd Bennett Field.
From the bus stop, walk in the direction of a warehouse with "National Gateway Recreation Area" in big letters (believe it or not, you're in a national park). Cross the street at the light and turn left onto the path along the highway. Follow this path for a few minutes until you see a sign about the Jamaica Bay Greenway. Behind this sign is the overgrown entrance for the North Forty Natural Area.
1. After squeezing your way through the gate, follow the grassy path. You'll see lots of birds, and maybe even a groundhog.
2. Turn right when you come to a wide junction. Now turn left onto the path ahead. Immediately you'll see a bird blind offering views of a small pond.
3. After checking out the bird blind, continue following this path through a vine covered forest.
4. North Forty is a bit of a maze, so bear with me here. After a little while you'll come to a junction. Turn right here, then right again at the coming split in the path.
5. Soon you'll come to another junction, now keep left on this sandy path. In a few minutes you'll come to a T in the path, turn right here.
6. Next you'll pass by a barn and then come to a junction. Turn left here and you'll now come to the ominous ruins of an abandoned building worth exploring.
7. Beyond this graffitied building is the shoreline of Jamaica Bay, covered in cracked seashells.
8. Walk to your right and follow along the shore. Out on the bay you'll see seabirds diving in the surf and boats enjoying the maritime life.
9. After walking along the water for a while, you'll come to a wooden berm and the beach becomes crowded with fishermen. A short distance ahead is a path leading off the beach.
10. Walk down the former runway of NYC's first airport. This walk is admittedly pretty boring, so put some music in! Keep an eye out to your right and you'll eventually see bathrooms, and then an entrance back into the nature preserve (marked by a fancy National Park sign about local wildlife).
11. Continue straight as you enter back into the nature preserve. In a little while you'll come to a split. Turn left here and then go left again at another split.
12. Next you'll pass by the bird blind and come to a T. Turn right here, then keep left at the junction ahead, and soon you'll come to your way out. Now you can continue straight on the path along the highway, taking you back to a Q35 bus stop.