Must-See Jamaica Bay: Camping and Hiking
Outdoors & Recreation
by Alyssa Grossman, 05/15/2012
Summer is the ideal time to camp in Jamaica Bay. One of the most popular places to spend a night outdoors is the Floyd Bennett campgrounds, Camp Gateway. Just steps from Aviator Sports & Events Center, you'll find 1,358 acres of land—a majority of which is accessible to the public—providing an ideal location to watch planes take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport by day and a clear spot to stargaze at night. With all of the activities offered here, it's easy to spend several days exploring Floyd Bennett alone. You'll also find an archery range, sailboating opportunities and the newly renovated William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center. Marine Park is another wonderful place to camp out in Jamaica Bay. Family programs throughout the summer are led by an Urban Park Ranger and include plenty of nighttime activities.
Embrace the great outdoors even further with a hike around one of the area's many trails. Options span all ability levels and interests and include nature exploration, fitness and night hikes. If you'd rather explore on your own, a great place to get started is Marine Park, where waterfront views combine with flora, fauna and wildlife for a nature-filled outing. Trail maps are available at the Salt Marsh Nature Center.
Have a wilderness experience without leaving New York City by checking out these events and activities:
All Year Long
Camping at Floyd Bennett Field
Spend up to 14 days surrounded by nature. Visit recreation.gov to reserve your spot.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, May 1–June 28
A Walk in the Park at Floyd Bennett Field, Ryan Visitor Center
Get your heart pumping while taking in the sights of the Hangar Row Historic District, including the Ryan Visitor Center airport terminal. The one-hour, 1.25-mile trip starts at 10am.
Saturdays and Sundays, June 1–September 1
Camp Gateway Ranger Adventure at Wiley Post Group Campfire Ring
Children ages six to 12 are invited to these park ranger-led walks complete with games and plenty of exploring. Walks run from 9:30–11:30am.
July 3, 13 and 26
Family Camping at Marine Park
Families are invited to spend a night under the stars at Marine Park. Campers are chosen by a lottery system. Programs are led by an Urban Park Ranger and include family-friendly activities. For details on entering, visit nycgovparks.org.
Healthy Heart Beach Walk at Riis Park
Meet at the boardwalk clock at 8am for this three-mile beach walk to 106th Street and back, led by a park ranger.
Junior Ranger Canoe Hike at Floyd Bennett Field, Mill Basin Kayak Launch
Ages six and up can practice their kayaking skills during this three-quarter mile trip close to shore. After docking at the Seaplane Ramp, participants will take a hike to the starting point. The trip runs from 1–3:30pm.