The Norton Basin Natural Recreation Area, in the Bayswater Section of Rockaway is a small state park as well as a nature preserve. I have lived in Rockaway my entire life and not only did I not know this place existed, I have never even seen it on a map!
The park actually has a very rich history, which you can check out for yourself by clicking here. Or you can read my quick abbreviated version:
In the 1970’s this parcel was a piece of city land. It had been handed over to developers for housing, but locals were able to put a stop to this. Eventually the land was acquired by the State of New York. In 1997, marsh and wetlands were planted and restored and began to flourish along with many species of fish, birds and crabs.
A walk through the area is a bit like a trip through time. It feels more like being out on the East End in Montauk or the Hamptons rather than here in New York City. There are hiking trails that lead through the different varieties of dune grasses, and down to the shore line where you can see thousands of tiny little crabs scurrying into their hidey holes in the sand.
Check out the photos here:
Here are the directions to Norton Basin:
Take Rockaway Blvd. to Bay 32nd St. and turn left onto Healy Ave. The Norton Basin Natural Resource Area entrance is located at the end of Healy Ave.
It is well worth checking out for any nature lovers or Rockaway enthusiasts.