Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Ferry: In summer, take Seastreak Ferry from Manhattan to Fort Hancock. Off-season, take Seastreak's daily commuter ferry to nearby Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Get map & directions to the ferry departure point at Pier 11 or E. 35th St.
Public Transit: Take NJ Transit for transit within NJ. Bus 834 to Highlands drops off near park entrance. NJT's North Jersey Coast train line to Red Bank links to Bus 834.
Take Academy Lines for bus from NYC to Highlands.
Open daily, dawn-dusk
Accessible restrooms are available at all Beach Centers and at Guardian Park in Fort Hancock. The North Beach Observation Deck and Lighthouse Keeper's Quarters are both accessible. All parking lots have handicapped spaces available. Get more information.
Gateway NRA (NPS), 732-872-5970.
A historic fort at Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—provided coastal defense for New York Harbor from 1895 until 1974. During the height of the Cold War, the fort housed Nike missiles prepared to intercept warplanes threatening New York City. Just a quick trip from Manhattan by ferry, this National Historic Landmark district at Sandy Hook is open for the public to explore.
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the nation's oldest continuously operated lighthouse. Due to its strategic location, it was defended by British loyalists to ensure the safe passage of British ships into New York City during the American Revolution. Fully restored, it has been guiding ships into New York Harbor since 1764.
Designed to be invisible from the sea, the first of the many concrete gun batteries at Fort Hancock was constructed as early as 1890. They have housed a wide range of artillery over the years. The first guns had only the limited range of 7 miles, but by 1919 artillery range increased to 20 miles. The Mortar Battery included an extensive tunnel system meant for storage of guns and ammunition. During World War II, the tunnels were converted into a top secret command center for defense of New York City. Battery Potter, one of the oldest gun batteries, is open to the public via ranger-led tours.
Other buildings still on view today include a renovated chapel, homes for the enlisted men and officers, a YMCA building, and the former post movie house which is now used for music and live theater. While not all are open to the public, these historic structures offer a dramatic foil to the beaches and surf available at Sandy Hook.
Things to Do
Special Events in August
Visit with Army Ground Forces Association volunteers as they perform restoration projects. Learn about the battery's role in protecting New York Harbor in 1943.
Fort Hancock Bike Tour
8/9, 5-7pm, Ferry Landing
Ride alongside a ranger on a guided tour highlighting the batteries, historic structures and beaches of Sandy Hook. Bring a helmet. Call 732-872-5970 for reservations.
Fort Hancock Walking Tour
History, scenic views, biking, rollerblading and walking.