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New York City: West Pond Trail

Discover New York City’s best birding on this 2-mile loop along bay shores and wetlands at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

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An oasis hidden in vast metropolis, the expansive salt marshes and sandy beaches at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge seem a world away from city life. Terrapin lay eggs along southwestern end of West Pond. Coastal bushes bud with fluorescent pink wildflowers. Thousand of migratory birds flock to nest at the park’s shorelines and uplands. Birders and naturalists are also frequent visitors to the refuge, recording more than 300 species in the past thirty years.

The gentle, two-mile-long West Pond Trail circles a 45-acre brackish pool dotted with bird boxes and observation benches. The gravel path cuts through sunlit shrubbery with occasional bay views to the left. After about 1,000 feet, catch close-up views of lofty osprey nests. Tree swallows with strikingly blue and white coats fly rapidly from branch to branch, feasting on insects in mid-air.

If it’s open, continue west onto the Terrapin Trail to see more shorebirds and turtles. Otherwise, turn north along West Pond. The Pumpkin Patch Channel winds through grassy wetlands to the left of the trail.

After heading south, pass through a shaded woodland area. Spur trails provide access to North and South Gardens, where observation blinds allow hikers to watch warblers and various migratory songbirds. Close the loop at the Visitor Center.
*Editor’s Note: This map contains the route from the Broad Channel subway station to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan

Mass Transit: From Manhattan: Take the A subway to Broad Channel Station. Walk on Noel Road, then turn R onto Cross Bay Boulevard. The Refuge Visitor Center is three-quarters of a mile down the road on the lefthand side.

To Trailhead

From Manhattan: Take I-495 East to exit 19. Keep right at the fork to continue toward Woodhaven Boulevard. Turn right at Woodhaven Boulevard. At 3.9 miles, continue on Cross Bay Boulevard. Cross over Channel Bridge. The refuge is on the right side of Cross Bay Boulevard.

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