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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Nearby Subway Stops
A, S at Broad Channel
By Car: Take the eastbound Belt Parkway to Exit 17S (Cross Bay Blvd.), go over North Channel Bridge and continue about 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center.
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Though it’s still visible through the smog, the Manhattan skyline doesn’t seem so impressive when viewed from the footpaths of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. This sprawling national park, spread out over dozens of islets in Jamaica Bay, covers 9,155 acres, but only a fraction—the areas called the East and West Ponds—are open to the public. The rest is reserved for wildlife—including more than 335 bird species. The smaller of the two areas, the West Pond, has a 1.75-mile gravel path that takes visitors through salty marshes and dense woods and around a scenic lake that’s the summer home of hundreds, if not thousands, of garrulous ducks and geese. Visitors should bring along their bug spray and wear long pants, or prepare to be assailed by aggressive horseflies, mosquitoes, ticks and spiders. Look out for the park’s numerous (and well-marked) patches of poison ivy as well. These minor annoyances, however, are a small price to pay for the tranquility of a park that’s as much a refuge for people as it is for wildlife.The Blind Pond
This 15-foot-wide pool, which is separate from the much larger West Pond, serves as a breeding ground for the small tree frogs that live in the refuge, as well as a spot for smaller birds to bathe. Visitors can watch them from a small shed with discreet lookout holes cut in the walls.
Trail walks focused on the park’s animal and plant species are offered throughout the year, including tours about horseshoe crabs, butterflies and ospreys. Call 718-318-4340 to make a reservation.
Jan.—Feb.: Wed.—Sun., 8:30 a.m.—5 p.m.; Mon.—Tue., closed; Mar.—Dec.: daily, 8:30 a.m.—5 p.m.