Sandy Hook is a fantastic place to start and finish a road ride. You can use the multi-use path to warm up and to cool down, and what’s better than ending a ride with a quick dip in the ocean?
What Makes It Great
Once you roll over the bridge out of the Gateway National Recreation Area, there are tons of open roads, and almost all of them are flooded with cyclists on the weekends.
If you want to keep it short and recovery-oriented, a spin on the multi-use path exploring the island is a relatively short and easy ride—and you can check out the massive houses left unattended and falling apart at the end of Sandy Hook, a remnant from when the park was an active military base. It’s a strange and compelling combination, the ghost town at the one end and the bustling beaches at the other.
With the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, there’s always a great breeze, which brings me to the next thing the roads in the park are great for: interval training. Take advantage of flat and fast road in the park, especially on weekdays when traffic is light. Use the road for the intervals, then pop back up onto the multi-purpose trail to recover.
If you love rail trails, outside of the park, you can continue to follow the Henry Hudson multi-use trail, which runs for nine miles all the way down to Aberdeen. But if it’s road riding you’re looking for, Route 36 is a great place to start, and riding down Ocean Avenue is a fantastic way to spend the day, and gives you a chance to see some of the best beach spots in New Jersey while racking up the miles: just keep the ocean on your left on the way down and on the right on your way back and you can’t get lost! Perfect for a ride where you don’t want to think about directions, just enjoy the journey.
If you want hills, cross back over the bridge onto 36 and spend some time exploring the nearby roads—the Atlantic Highlands are the Highlands for a reason, and they’re surprisingly hilly despite being so close to the ocean. The roads have plenty of cyclists—and Share the Road signs—so drivers are typically well-behaved.
Who is Going to Love It
Sandy Hook has a little bit of something for everyone - a multi-use path for easy riding, rail trails, and hills.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you’re in Manhattan with no car, simply take the ferry over to Sandy Hook with your bike and ride from there—the park is free if you don’t drive in. The ferry isn’t cheap ($46 round trip) so you might want to plan to spend a day or two in Sandy Hook riding and enjoying the beach.
The down side to parking in Sandy Hook is that it’s a $15 charge per car, but the park security and the chance for a post-ride dip make it a pretty compelling choice. There are also showers, which makes for a much less smelly drive home.
There’s camping available, and great mountain biking at nearby Hartshorne Park, so a two-day trip should be a blast.