Gateway National Recreation Area | BIKING AT JAMAICA BAY

Jamaica Bay Bike Loop (click to enlarge)

Jamaica Bay Bike Loop (click to enlarge)

Jamaica Bay Unit Home Page

It is possible to make an 18-mile loop ride around the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area by traveling on a paved, Multi-Use Path (MUP) and roadside bike lanes. There are many places within the park to start from, with Jacob Riis Park being as good as any. If that’s your departure point, here’s the route:

Depart from the west end of the parking lot on a paved path that runs parallel to Beach Channel Drive and ends at Beach 169th Street. Take a right, cross over Rockaway Point Boulevard / Beach Channel Drive and you’ll find a hiker / biker path on the other side that very quickly becomes the pedestrian lane for crossing the Marine Parkway Bridge. Once on the other side, follow the pedestrian path up Flatbush Avenue a short ways and then cross over at the intersection with Aviation Road (Floyd Bennett Field unit of Gateway National Recreation Area). This is where the Rockaway Gateway Greenway begins, an MUP for hikers, bikers, and skaters. The trip from Jacob Riis Park to Floyd Bennett Field is approximately 1.5 miles.

The Greenway is its own path and separate from the road. It runs from Floyd Bennett Field and follows Flatbush Avenue and then Belt Parkway all the way to Cross Bay Boulevard where the route turns south and heads towards the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. However, if you take the Greenway all the way to Cross Bay Boulevard, there is no MUP or bike lane south through the Howard Beach neighborhood to the bridge that connects to the Refuge. Therefore, the safer route is to follow side streets that border the neighborhood: 78th Street to 161st Avenue to 83rd Street to 165th Avenue to Cross Bay Boulevard. At that point there is a separate pedestrian path that you can take a short distance down the road to the bridge, and the path continues over the bridge. There is a separate MUP all the way through the Refuge. The trip to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is 12 miles.

At the south end of the Refuge is a developed area, and at this point there is only an on-street bike lane, so you’ll be riding right next to vehicles. The lane continues the rest of the way across the island, but you must cross the road at E 20th Road to get to the pedestrian path for crossing the bridge to Rockaway. Once across the road, take the bike lane against traffic for a block and turn left on E 21st Road. There is no traffic light at 21st, which is why you must cross a block early. Follow 21st / Van Burnt Road to the end and you’ll find the pedestrian path.

Once across the bridge the pedestrian path ends (14-mile ride at this point). You must make your way across the peninsula to the beach using city streets, so just stay straight on Beach 92nd Street, which is the road you’ll be facing when the pedestrian path ends. There is a bike lane on the street, though it jogs right at the first intersection and then continues towards the beach on Beach 94th Street. This bike lane runs all the way to the beach. At that point you can take the boardwalk (which now has a bike lane) all the way back to where it ends at Beach 126th Street. From there you must use the on-street bike lane by turning right on 126th and then left on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. It’s a mile back to Jacob Riis Park (4 miles total along the Rockaway Peninsula).

There are also a few miles of abandoned runways and other roads within Floyd Bennett Field that you can bike on. I don’t see anyone doing this for pleasure, but if you are camping or have other business at the park, biking is a great way to get around the airfield.

There are no designated off-road biking trails anywhere in the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.

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Last updated on January 3, 2022
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