- Public transportation: Subway — Rockaway-bound A train to the Broad Channel stop. Walk west to Crossbay Boulevard and turn right (north). Continue on Crossbay Boulevard approximately ½ mile. Refuge entrance is on the left. Bus – Q53 or Q21 bus to the wildlife refuge stop.
- Car: Southbound: Crossbay Boulevard south over the North Channel Bridge. Continue 1 ½ miles to the refuge entrance on the right). Northbound: over the Crossbay Bridge and continue on Crossbay Boulevard. Once past Broad Channel, continue ½ mile to the refuge entrance on the left.
- Visitor Center phone: 718-318-4340.
New Yorkers are lucky to have a national park in their own backyard, accessible by public transportation. Nestled next to John F. Kennedy Airport, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge consists of 9,155 acres that fit into the larger Gateway National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service. Diverse habitats like marshes, upland fields, woods, ponds (both fresh and brackish), bay and bay islands, make this refuge is world-renown as a top notch birding spot year round, with over 325 species recorded.
Besides birds, the Refuge has plenty to offer all budding naturalists! Animal visitors and residents include Virginia Opossums, Little Brown Bats, Spring Peepers, Eastern Gray Squirrels, Diamondback Terrapins and Brown Snakes. Though we might not be able to see them from the refuge trails, the bay’s waters support many finfish like Porgies, Bluefish, Atlantic Silversides, Winter Flounder, and Atlantic Menhaden.
A visit to the refuge begins with a stop at the Visitor Center, constructed of recycled and renewable materials, while boasting efficient uses of power and water. Visitors can enjoy the interpretive exhibits, gift shop, and the restrooms and water fountain. Staff and volunteers are present to make your journey into the refuge more enjoyable and rewarding.
You’ll receive a free permit, allowing access to the trails and explaining the Refuge’s rules – important to follow as they are established to protect the species and landscape. Be certain to also pick up the various informative brochures, as well as a trail map.
Though the West Pond trail is covered with gravel, good walking shoes are recommended, especially when venturing onto one of the smaller trails (waterproof footwear is best for the East Pond which may be very muddy). Also bring along water, sunscreen and insect repellent. Poison ivy and ticks also make the refuge home – another good reason to stay on the trail. Dress appropriately since summer can be quite hot, while the winter wind is cold and fierce.
While the lush landscape of native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs (as well as its share of non-native plants) may look healthy, Jamaica Bay is experiencing a variety of environmental problems that threaten its future. Salt marshes – important natural filters of pollutants and necessary to stabilize land from erosion – are decreasing at a concerning rate. Increases in nitrogen from wastewater plants, sewer overflows, and storm water discharge are partly to blame, along with urbanization of the shoreline.
Do your part to preserve the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge! Visit often to appreciate the Refuge’s diverse species and learn what you can do to help preserve this delicate landscape. Volunteer with the National Park Service, or join in on the restoration efforts and beach clean-ups offered by the American Littoral Society.
Through our combined efforts, we can help preserve this exceptional habitat.
- Amphibians, Reptiles, and Mammals of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by Robert P. Cook and Clive Pinnock, Gateway National Recreation Area.
- East Pond Trail Guide by Dave Taft, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Gateway National Recreation Area.
- Finfish of Jamaica Bay by Don Riepe, Gateway National Recreation Area.
- The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by Don Riepe, Gateway National Recreation Area.
- Nitrogen Loading in Jamaica Bay, Long Island, New York: Predevelopment to 2005, by Mark J. Benotti, Michele Abbene, and Stephen A. Terracciano, published 2007 by the United States Geological Survey accessed on 12/1/2008 at http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5051/SIR2007-5051.pdf.
- Wildflowers of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge by Kathy Krause and Don Riepe, Gateway National Recreation Area.
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