Summer at the Hook 2012

Sandy Hook / Highlands History: Originally discovered by the famous Sea Captain Henry Hudson in the early 1600’s, Sandy Hook remains a beautiful, 1,665-acre barrier peninsula within view of the Manhattan skyline. It is recommended that those who would like to spend some time in Sandy Hook stay in Highlands, which is located on the hill across the bay.

Beach Information – The 7 mile stretch of spectacular ocean and bay beaches are excellent for surf casting, swimming, and relaxing on the sand. Nature lovers will revel in the 300 – plus species of migratory birds, as well as the pristine holly forest. Be Warned! Parking lots fill up early on weekends in the summer, causing the gates to close.

2012 Season – Memorial Day through Labor Day

Although there is no entrance fee to Sandy Hook, there is a $15 per car parking fee. A $75 Seasonal Beach Pass is also available. Golden Access and Golden Age Passport holders receive a 50 % discount.

Gateway National Park at Sandy Hook is a ‘dog friendly’ beach on the Inlet side of the Hook but your dogs must be leashed at all times. Please note that there are no amenities (i.e. life guards, rest rooms, food or beverages) available on the Inlet side (western shore) of the Park. Dogs are not allowed at any time on the eastern or Atlantic shore of the Park.

NY Beach Ferry – Spend a day relaxing on the beach, swimming, sun tanning, bird watching, fishing (check with local laws), or sightseeing in Sandy Hook and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Ferries will depart from Pier 11,

SeaStreak Ferry – SeaStreak America, Inc. is a leader in revitalizing fast high-speed catamaran services in the New York metropolitan area. Visit their website at

Big Mohawk Party Boat – The Big Mohawk NJ Party Boat, located in the Jersey Shore town of Belmar, Services also provided are Private Charters and Burials at Sea.

Sea Devil Party Boat – The Sea Devil NJ Party Boat, located in the Jersey Shore town of Point Pleasant Beach, offers New Jersey Blue Fishing and Offshore NJ Tuna Fishing trips. Other services also provided are Inland River Cruises and Burials at Sea.

Bike Trails – Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is an organization dedicated to assisting local communities in the acquisition of abandoned railroad corridors and the conversion of these corridors into trails that are used for biking, walking and running. Most trails are limited to a 3% incline because this is the default characteristic of a railroad track. The gentle slope of a railroad trail is ideally suited for various forms of exercise: rollerblading, biking, jogging and leisurely strolls all occur on these different trails. Henry Hudson Trail – Jersey Shore Location: Aberdeen to Atlantic Highlands Activities: Walking, Horseback Riding, Biking, Cross Country Skiing, In-line Skating, Wheelchair Accessible Length: 9 mi.

Sandy Hook All Women Lifeguard Tournament. – The Sandy Hook All Women Lifeguard Tournament is held every July and include women’s teams from as far away as Cape Cod, MA and Nags Head, NC. The lifeguards of the sandy Hook All Women Lifeguard Tournament are competitors for the honor of the towns they represent and as a group are responsible for saving dozens of lives each summer.

Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters Art Exhibit Schedule – Visit the front room of the Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters for an enjoyable experience viewing artwork and photographs.

2012 Exhibit Schedule

Jun. 2 – Aug. 3 – Sharon Hathaway – Local artist Sharon Hathaway likes to gather subject matter for her detailed beautiful paintings while taking long walks on the Jersey Bay Shore.

Aug. 4 – Sep. 29– Sally Brandenburg – Sally is an award winning member of the New Jersey Watercolor Society, the Garden State Watercolor Society, and American Artist Professional League New Jersey Chapter.

Sep. 29 – Mar 31 – Robert Hillmann returns… Bob Hillmann lives in Atlantic Highlands with his wife and 3 sons.

Note to Readers: In case you haven’t heard, NJ Audubon has closed its Sandy Hook Bird Observatory office but programs at Sandy Hook will continue. As part of NJ Audubon’s NEW All Things Birds initiative, starting Mar. 1, Pete Bacinski and Scott Barnes will bring their considerable talents to bear, respectively, at the Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Bernardsville and Plainsboro Preserve in Cranbury.

Please note the new contact information for Pete and Scott and NEW PROGRAM REGISTRATION INFO: For programs listed below that require preregistration, please contact the Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary at 908.766.5787 or email the center at For logistical info regarding the programs, contact Pete or Scott directly.


OLD MINE ROAD – Sat., Jun. 2 – 8:15 a.m. – Roadside birding around the scenic Delaware Water Gap for a variety of breeding vireos, flycatchers, warblers (including Cerulean and Hooded), and more. We’ll also be on the lookout for late spring migrants such as Olive-sided Flycatcher and Mourning Warbler.

ASSUNPINK WMA – Saturday, Jun 23 -8:15 a.m. – Breeding birds and butterflies are at this diverse location; where we’ll search for both species of cuckoos, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak, and others. The lake may hold a surprise or two as well.

FORSYTHE NWR (BRIGANTINE) – Sat, Jul 21 8:45 a.m. – Bird the top spot for shorebirds in the state during the first wave of southbound yellowlegs, “peeps,” and dowitchers. Brig is also excellent for a variety of herons, ibis, and terns.

FORSYTHE NWR (BRIGANTINE) – Sat, Aug. 11 – 8:45 a.m. Shorebird migration generally peaks in mid-Aug, and we’ll take another crack at the variety of sandpipers and long-legged waders that make Brig an outstanding summer birding destination. SANDY HOOK BIRDING – Sat, Aug. 25 8:15 a.m. Nesting terns and shorebirds should be in evidence, and we’ll do some woodland birding for early fall songbirds.

FIELD TRIPS WITH PETE BACINSKI, SCOTT BARNES AND OUR ASSOCIATE NATURALISTS — By caravan with Pete Bacinski, Scott Barnes, or our associate naturalists to seasonally productive birding or natural areas. Please include your e-mail address and phone number with your check or when you register. Single trips: $15 members, $20nonmembers, and volunteers $10,with no cancellations or refunds. Trips go in any weather, usually to mid-afternoon. Bring lunch, weather appropriate gear, binoculars, and scopes. Directions are available at

FORSYTHE NWR (BRIGANTINE) – Sat, Jun 2 – 3 p.m. Pete will lead an afternoon and evening trip to Forsythe NWR (Brigantine) for late shorebirds, waders, and, during the evening, Chuck-will’s-widow and Whip-poor-will.

OLD MINE ROAD – TRIP 1 Saturday, Jun 9 – 8:15 a.m. Pete’s first trip of the season to Old Mine Road for lots of breeding warblers including Cerulean, Yellow-throated, and Hooded, as well as other passerines and perhaps, if we are lucky, a Ruffed Grouse, Black Bear, or Bobcat.

PEQUANNOCK WATERSHED BIRDING Sun, Jun 10 8 a.m. Cherry Ridge, Waywayanda State Park, and Clinton Road in the Pequannock Watershed will be the destination for great Highlands nesting birds. Leader: local expert Ken Witkowski.

OLD MINE ROAD – TRIP 2 Thu, Jun 14 8:15 a.m. Pete returns to Old Mine Road for great nesting birds and beautiful scenery, with a spectacular view and a waterfall.

OLD MINE ROAD – TRIP 3 Sat, Jun 23 8:15 a.m. Pete’s third trip to Old Mine Road along the scenic Delaware River with lots of nesting birds, butterflies, and always the possibility of a Black Bear or Bobcat; and don’t forget the waterfall!

MAHLON DICKERSON RESERVATION Sun, Jun. 24 – 7 a.m. Join associate naturalist Carole Hughes for an adventure at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson, in the heart of the Highlands, with lots of breeding birds and perhaps some surprises.

FORSYTHE NWR (BRIGANTINE) Sat, Jul 28 – 8:45 a.m. The second of Pete’s monthly-through-November field trips to Forsythe NWR (Brigantine). Brig is New Jersey’s premier shorebird migration hotspot, with mudflats covered in birds, and lots of wetland breeding species.

SHOREBIRDS AT THE MEADOWLANDS Sun, Jul 29 8:45 a.m. —Join associate naturalist Rob Fanning for a day at the N.J. Meadowlands in Lyndhurst and North Arlington for shorebirds and passerines.

FORSYTHE NWR (BRIGANTINE) Sat, Aug 25 8:45 a.m. Pete returns to Forsythe NWR (Brigantine) at the peak time for shorebird diversity, with possibilities of Baird’s, Buff-breasted, and Pectoral Sandpipers, and lots of herons, egrets, terns, and passerines.

PETE BACINSKI’S BIRDING AND NATURAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS— Workshops are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers, and are about two hours in duration.

SPRING SHOREBIRDS: AN ID WORKSHOP – Sat., Jun. 16 10 a.m. – Held at the Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, this comprehensive program and discussion on shorebirds will cover all aspects of identification of shorebirds expected in New Jersey during migration. The best locations to view shorebirds will be discussed, as well as shorebird calls.

COLONIAL WATERBIRDS, OUR COASTAL GEMS —Sat., Jun. 30 – 11 a.m. —Presented at the Essex County Environmental Center. This workshop will look at NJ’s colonial nesting herons, egrets, terns, and gulls, featuring images taken by some of America’s best nature photographers.

SHOREBIRDS: AN ID WORKSHOP – Sun., Jul. 15- 1 p.m. —This comprehensive program at Plainsboro Preserve is a discussion on shorebirds, detailing all aspects of identification of shorebirds expected in New Jersey during migration. Best locations to view shorebirds will be discussed, as well as shorebird calls.

COLONIAL WATERBIRDS, OUR COASTAL GEMS — Sat., July 21 10:30 a.m. — Held at Rancocas Nature Center. This workshop is a look at New Jersey’s colonial nesting herons, egrets, terns, and gulls, featuring images taken by some of America’s best nature photographers. Get acquainted with this marvelous group of birds in their finest attire (breeding plumage) and learn about their way of life.

THE NATURE OF SANDY HOOK – Saturday, Aug. 11 – Time TBA. Program held at Plainsboro Preserve. Sandy Hook is one of NJ’s premier year-round birding and natural history destinations. Learn the significance of Sandy Hook as an important birding area for critical migrating species along the Atlantic Flyway and enjoy a program of wonderful images of some of The Hook’s 350 recorded avian species, as well as of the six-mile barrier beach’s habitats and flora and fauna.

SHOREBIRDS: AN ID WORKSHOP – Sunday, Aug. 12 – 1 p.m. —Offered at Rancocas Nature Center. This comprehensive program and discussion on shorebirds will cover all aspects of identification of shorebirds expected in New Jersey during migration.


ADIRONDACK MOUNTAIN VAN TOUR – Jun. 15 to 18 —Join Scott Barnes and Linda Mack for a long weekend of great birding and natural history. The northern Adirondack Mountains provide one of the last, unspoiled wilderness areas in the northeast. Over 6,000 sq mi of rugged peaks, rocky slopes, pine/spruce forests, and wetlands are both beautiful and bird-rich. From our base in Saranac Lake, we’ll day trip to nearby bogs, boreal forests, and mountains in search of Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Olive-sided & Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Mourning Warbler, and “winter” finches.

Participants will also have a chance to visit Lake Placid and the Adirondack Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s. Price is $575 based on double occupancy; single supplement is $75. Meeting locations are Sandy Hook or Bernardsville.

Package includes: guiding, van transportation from NJ, three nights’ accommodations, and entrance fees. For more info contact Chris Tonkinson at or 609-861-0700


Sandy Hook Visitor Center – The former Spermaceti Cove Life-Saving Service Station contains exhibits and a bookstore. The Visitor Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 732-872-5970 for more info.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse – Tours are given daily from 1 4:30 p.m. Sandy Hook Lighthouse Tours are first-come, first-served. Visitors must be at least 48 inches tall to climb the tower. Groups need reservations in advance for a Lighthouse tour. Contact the park Visitor Center at 732-872-5970.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse Keepers Quarters – The Lighthouse Keepers Quarters has exhibits on New Jersey Lighthouses. Weekdays Apr. through Oct – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Weekends 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. History House – This 1898 lieutenant’s residence along “Officers Row” is furnished to the 1940’s. Open Weekends 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Step back in time to the 1940’s at History House, where visitors can help make WWII recipes, cultivate the Victory Garden, and spend time with living historians learning about the era.

Battery Potter – Tour Sandy Hook’s oldest gun battery. Opens on weekends in 2012 starting May through August from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit the nation’s oldest concrete gun emplacement, and decide for yourself whether it was a technological marvel or military mistake.

Battery Gunnison – April thru October – Weekends 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Visit and chat with living historians from the Army Ground Forces Association to find out why the 6” guns here were fired six times between the fall of 1943 and spring of 1944.

Fort Hancock Museum – The former post guardhouse contains exhibits on Fort Hancock. Currently closed for renovations. Did you know that Fort Hancock had an integrated unit in World War II? The 1225th Army Service Unit had African-American soldiers and in 1943 received a group from the Women’s Army Corps.

Sail, Canoe and Kayak in Jamaica Bay (seasonal) – In 2012, look forward to Walk-up Kayaking, Excursions for all skill levels, Friday Family Sailing and Kayak Skills Workshops.

Camping at Floyd Bennet Field – Gateway is proud to announce the addition of 40 camp sites at its existing campgrounds in Floyd Bennett Field, including six sites for recreational vehicles. As of the Fourth of July 2011, camping reservations must be made online at

End of Summer Party – Friday, Sep. 7, 2012.

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