Floyd Bennett Field (South)
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:50 Aviation Road, Brooklyn, NY
Hours:Visitor center: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Visitor Contact Station; Visitor Contact Station parking lot; near Park Nursery (adjacent to Archery Range)
Water/Snacks: Concessions in Visitor Contact Station and Aviator Sports and Events Complex

USGS Brooklyn

This former airfield has now been turned back over to nature. Visitors can walk or bike along interesting trails, or camp at the public campground.

Floyd Bennett Field administration building.
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Dredged up from the shallow depths of Rockaway Inlet to create New York City’s first municipal airport (launching pad of Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated final flight), Floyd Bennett Field will strike you as a space suspended in time. The surrounding waters have clearly begun to retake what was once theirs. Weeds thrive happily in the cracks of former runways, and the low-slung forest— thick, humid—thrives incognizant of the abandoned buildings.

For this hike, begin at the Visitor Contact Station at the main entrance near Flatbush Avenue. Walk northeast on Floyd Bennett Boulevard 0.5 mile toward Jamaica Bay. Pass Ranger Road and Enterprise Road, then turn left past the Park Nursery on your right. Take the first right and continue the 0.5-mile loop. From there, take the disintegrating paved path clockwise past the Gateway Environmental Study Center.

The park is hardly crowded, but along the way you will pass people enjoying diverse activities. On one visit, adult hobbyists were racing remotecontrolled cars around a miniature Daytona; golfers were hitting shots across empty baseball fields; adventurous mountain bikers were exploring crumbling parking lots; and archers were lined up aiming at a row of targets. All this activity went on a few hundred feet away from vacant structures that are packed with mazes of rusty pipes and surrounded by determined plant life.

Looking east across Jamaica Bay you will see the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Trip 51 and Trip 52), and looking north you will spot skyscrapers looming over Manhattan. Following Floyd Bennett Boulevard back the way you came, you can take a second look at the abandoned park administration offices, slowly being reclaimed by the salt marsh they were built upon. A short hiking trail is north beyond Ecology Village Campgrounds, a pine grove area that is the only public campground in the five boroughs. Owing to its remote location, Floyd Bennett Field is an ideal location for stargazing. The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York meets there one night a month from May to December.

Remember: A great way to reach this destination is by biking along the Shore Parkway Bikeway/Rockaway Gateway Greenway.

Plan B:

Walk across to the north side of Floyd Bennett Field (Trip 38) for the historical Hangar District and a short hike. If you are driving, try nearby Marine Park (Trip 40), which is a great spot for hiking and bird-watching.

Where to Eat Nearby:

You may encounter a vending truck catering to archers near the Archery Range.


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