Dead Horse Bay – A Complete Guide and Travel Tips

Dead Horse Bay is a beach in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn.  Recently featured in Atlas Obscura, the bay has become a sort of mecca for those looking for unusual things to do in NYC.  The beach is situated next to an old landfill and it is covered with old bottles, old toys, even old bicycles.  Having spent years in the sea, the trash takes on an almost romantic feel. And, if you are looking for beach glass this is heaven. In this article, you’ll find exact directions to Dead Horse Bay (including a public transport option). In addition, you’ll find travel tips – the best time to visit, what to wear and other things to do near-by.

A littered beach and a bridge in the background, cloudy skies overhead.
Dead Horse Bay is a beach in Jamaica Bay, New York.

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How do you get to Dead Horse Bay?

Step 1:  Drive to Floyd Bennet Field

First things first, how do you get to Dead Horse Bay? Let’s take a look at the car option (the easiest option) first.  Dead Horse Bay is located across the road from Floyd Bennet Field. To get here, take the Belt Parkway to exit 11S.  Then, drive along Flatbush Avenue. After about 10 minutes you’ll see a sign for “Floyd Bennet Field.” At the sign turn left – its the last left turn before you enter a toll bridge. The GPS works here, so you can just input “Floyd Bennet Field” and you’ll get to the right place. 

Once you drive into the federal land, you’ll notice a small ranger booth at the entrance.  Don’t bother stopping here – in 25 years I’ve never seen a ranger in the booth.  They are usually patrolling the land. 

A sign that says "welcome to Floyd Bennet Field, Parking after dusk for aviator or by permit only.  Park closes at Dark."  Behind the sign, a road and a small ranger booth.
You’ll drive past this sign but don’t bother stopping at the ranger booth – it’s not occupied. Park at the lot immediately on the right after the booth.

Brooklyn Travel Tip:

Looking for even more unusual things to do in Brooklyn? Check out my complete guide to walking the Manhattan Bridge.

Step 2:  Walk from Floyd Bennet Field to Dead Horse Bay

On your right immediately after the booth, you’ll see a parking lot and bathrooms.  You can leave your car here and use the bathrooms if needed.  Now, walk back out the way you came, until you get to Flatbush Avenue.  You’ll need to cross 4 lanes of fast traffic but there is a stop signal, just press the button and wait.  After you cross the street, you’ll see a sign that says “Jamaica Bay Greenway.”  Walk just a couple of steps past the sign and you’ll find the trailhead.  There are no markers on the trailhead, but it’s pretty easy to find. 

Next, walk onto the trail and just 3 minutes later you’ll see that the trail splits in three directions.  If you go to the right, you’ll end up at basically the same beach, but officially it called bottle beach.  If you go straight, you’ll end up at Dead Horse Bay, the third trail takes you to the most remote part of the same beach.  Bottle beach also has cool debris but dead horse bay has stronger currents, so usually, you’ll find more stuff.  Walk along the middle lane for about 10 minutes.  It probably won’t feel like you are in Brooklyn anymore.  While the trail is well maintained, you’ll see thick jungle on both sides and hear birds chirp overhead.  Soon you’ll come out to the clearing and to Dead Horse Bay. 

A sign that says "Jamaica Bay Greenway."  A map under the sign, grass and trees around it and a road on the right side of the sign.  The entry to dead horse bay.
After you cross the road, look for this sign. The trail head starts just a few feet behind the sign. The trail head is not marked.

Also read: Downtown Brooklyn – 20 Amazing Things To Do

Can You Take Public Transport to Dead Horse Bay?

You can – but it’s not super easy.  The trains don’t come near Dead Horse Bay, so you’ll need to make a few transfers.  The Q35 bus stops right outside Floyd Bennet Field.  Most of the time, google maps will tell you to take a train to Avenue U and transfer a couple of buses.  Always check google maps public transport option for the fastest route – it varies based on day and construction work.  If you want to save some time, I suggest taking the Q train to Sheepshead Bay and then get an uber from there.  It’s only a 15-minute drive with no traffic to Floyd Bennet field from Sheepshead Bay and it’ll save you an hour commute.

Objects found in Dead Horse Bay. An old tire covered with mollusks, in front of the tire an old glass jar partially filled with sand.  Seaweed all around both objects.
Dead Horse Bay finds – an old tire that is now the home to many living creatures and an old glass jar.

What is the Best Time to Go to Dead Horse Bay?

Before you head out to Dead Horse Bay, check the tide schedule.  Try to time your trip with the low tide.  If you go at high tide you won’t see a lot – mostly just a really littered beach. The cool stuff floats out at low tide.  I like this website for checking tides in Brooklyn, but you can find many more if you just google “tide in Brooklyn.” When I traveled here the low tide was at 12, so it was perfect. 

A rusted metal cage or another metal square object, surrounded by rocks and seaweed.  Water and a skyline can be seen in the distance.
Dead Horse Bay finds, 2019

Is Dead Horse Bay Safe?

Yes, it’s totally fine.  I haven’t heard of an incident happen here since the early 90s.  You are in the wilderness and this is all federal lands. Obviously, things can happen anywhere, so treat this like any hiking situation.  Don’t hike alone, have a charged phone, don’t take too many valuables, and let someone know where you are. Today, even with the Atlas Obscura feature, few people ever come out here. This means that if you come on a weekday you won’t likely see one other person on the short trail.  Its kind of nice to be alone in the city – a great change of pace. Find even more ideas of things to do the Brooklyn here.

A small child's toy (likely an astronaut) lays inside a large accumulation of sea weed.  Behind the toy a piece of a comb sticks out.
Dead Horse Bay finds, 2019

Travel Tips

The beach is covered with glass. Some of it is old beach glass, but some of it still has edges.  It’s very important you wear proper footwear.  Don’t wear open-toed sandals or flip flops – you’ll almost certainly get a cut.  Wear hiking shoes if possible, the thicker the sole the better.  If you plan on touching things you may want to bring a pair of gloves.  And remember this is federal land, so you are not supposed to remove anything.  Oh, and you won’t need a bathing suit for this beach 😊

A large mass of broken glass in small pieces and in various colors, as seen in Dead Horse Bay, 2019.
Wear shoes with good soles to Dead Horse Bay.

What Are Other Things to Do Near Dead Horse Bay?

If you keep going past the parking lot and make the first left, you’ll eventually come to a huge old airplane hanger.  Today it’s an athletic center called “The Aviator” and you can spend a few hours here.  At Aviator you’ll find a climbing wall, a flight simulator, and a huge ice-skating rink. You can rent skates here and enjoy a few hours in the freezing cold (if that’s your cup of tea).  There is also a cafeteria which is decent, so you won’t starve to death.  Alternatively, if you keep going straight past the ranger booth, you’ll find hiking trails and even places to camp and tent.  Yes, you can tent in Brooklyn.  Crazy right?  You can learn more here about camping at Floyd Bennet Field

Dead horse bay beach, a bridge seen in the distance. Vertical sticks intended to prevent people from swimming are placed on the bridge.  Sticks are surrounded by rocks and sea weed.
The view in Dead Horse Bay.

That’s it for Dead horse Bay!  I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have read this far. please let me know your thoughts on this article below. Questions and comments are super helpful both to me and to the search engines.  Thanks so much for reading and see you on the road!

Viktoria aka Traveltipster

An old glass jar lays on its side, mostly filled with sand.  Around it a large mass of seaweed and a few other pieces of broken glass.
Dead Horse Bay Finds, 2019.
One large green bottle stands on Dead Horse Beach.  Around the bottle, lay countless old bottles.  The beach is surrounded by water and seaweed.
In the foreground, seaweed covered rocks.  Behind them, wooden poles placed vertically in the sand, water, and a bridge.
Old metal roller skates rusted to almost beyond recognition, stick out from the sand.  Around them broken glass and seaweed.
An old glass container with a narrow throat lays in the water.  Inside the container, seaweed and other objects.
A pinterest friendly graphic for Dead Horse Bay article.
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20 Responses

  1. Would like to visit here, but I read somewhere that they closed it down to the public & there going to clean it up? Is that true? Would love to visit, before they do all that?

    1. Still open as far as I know. No real way to close it, its a wild area and there is no staff there to monitor who goes in and out


  2. Back in the late 60’s, early 70’s l worked there. It was the home for the us coast guard and the New York air national guards’ 106th were I worked also. The nypd aviation unit was there. During the summer we would have lunch on the board walk at Riss park and watch all the girls sun tanning. Then they closed us down and move us to the closed us Air Force at west Hampton beach Suffolk county Long Island. The unit is still there as the 106th Air Rescue wing flying and working with the local Coast Guard. Some time one of us old boys from Brooklyn visit one or the other. At west Hampton in front of the head quarters’ building there are plaques with the names of the ones lost in rescue and training missions. Thanks for the update. Tony q. Msgt Ret

  3. Fabulous. A travel guide to a polluted filthy beach. I understand the mentality of making the best of what one has but this is ridicules.

  4. Not heard of Dead Horse Bay before, but certainly seems like an interesting place to visit. Would love to go xx

  5. Oh my goodness, this place looks beautiful! Although I’ve never been to Dead Horse Bay before myself, I would love to make my way over in the near future. Thanks for sharing all of this! 🙂

  6. Good tips on being smart and safe. I think it would be nice to venture where you were actually alone with nature for a bit.

    1. Yes, it’s rather unusual in Brooklyn. Being alone in nature one of the benefits of visiting Dead Horse Bay.

  7. This is a place I’d like to visit for sure! “Treasure” beaches are so much fun to discover but at the same time, it makes me sad that so many things en up in the ocean.

    1. I believe it is because in the 19th century dead animals used to wash up here, including horses. Back when horses were the main method of transportation. But I don’t think anything terrible ever happened here… good question though!

      1. This is an amazing article Because of your article I went to Dead Horse Bay it’s amazing there I found marbles children’s toys old bottles old shoes blue and white pottery milk glass that I make jewelry out of beech Glass that I make jewelry out of it’s an amazing place And it has a lot of history to so thank you for this article it was amazing and in your article tells you how to get there it was so much easier because of your article that I found Dead Horse Bay thank you

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Looking for vacation ideas or travel tips? You’ve come to the right place! 
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Always practical, accompanied by beautiful photography and a bit of history, my goal is to help you create – and fulfill – the ultimate travel bucket list.  I look forward to your comments and questions, and happy traveling!

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