Marine Park Salt Marsh: Brooklyn’s Best-Kept Secret

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Folks, I’m about to let you in on one of the best kept secrets in Brooklyn—something that’s not known by many people outside of Brooklyn’s most southeastern neighborhoods. I hope my fellow South Brooklynites can forgive me, but I’ve got to spill the beans about the Marine Park Salt Marsh.

Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail

Who would have thought that a city nicknamed the concrete jungle would have a 530-acre salt marsh within its borders? As a transitional zone between the Atlantic Ocean and dry land, the Marine Park Salt Marsh is a beautiful (and crucial) ecosystem full of reeds and cordgrass as tall as people, as well as a variety of fish, crab, and water-loving birds. As for nature-loving people, the marsh also contains a couple of hiking trails so you can immerse yourself in this wetland wonderland while being only a few steps away from civilization.

Marine Park Salt Marsh Birds

Speaking of civilization, could you believe that the Marine Park Salt Marsh has only existed in this form for just a few years? Of course, this was the area’s natural state hundreds of years ago, but as Brooklyn developed from being a smattering of villages to being part of a full-blown city, by the 1970s 75 percent of the original salt marsh was destroyed. While a lot of the marsh was filled in so Brooklyn could create more space for housing and industry, other parts of the marsh literally became a dump. You can still spot some remnants of its trashy past today as you hike along the trail—burnt out vans and abandoned boats are slowly being swallowed up by the reeds.

Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail Abandoned Car

While striking, these apocalyptic scenes are rare at the Marine Park Salt Marsh. Your most common sights will be the seemingly endless fields of cordgrass lining the languid, salty waters of Jamaica Bay. Take a cue from the water and linger here for awhile. Listen to the wind rustling through the reeds and to the birds squabbling and chirping. Take in the fresh, earthy aroma. Don’t forget to take some sunscreen and a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. There’s a lot of mud here.

Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail Water

In terms of exertion, the Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail is an easy hike. If you’re looking for something more active, feel free to bring a canoe and paddle over to Mau Mau Island, which sits directly across the shore. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Salt Marsh Nature Center to pick up a trail map and learn even more about this beautiful wetland.

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8 responses to “Marine Park Salt Marsh: Brooklyn’s Best-Kept Secret”

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    […] Marine Park Salt Marsh is one of Brooklyn’s best hidden gems. Emphasis on the word ‘hidden.’ Unless you live in the southeastern part of Brooklyn, the Salt […]

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    […] In fact, until 1986 the park used to be the site of an illegal dumping ground. It’s amazing how NYC reclaims land. But the area is not all machinery and factories; the Noguchi Museum and the Welling Court Mural […]

  3. Vivian Avatar

    Shiloh, is there a way to get here by public transportation? I’m a former Brooklyn resident who never knew about this place until now. I’d love to go visit on my next trip to nyc.

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      Hi Vivian! Thanks for reading! Although the Salt Marsh is inaccessible by subway, the B3 bus runs there. I believe the stop is East 33rd Street and Avenue U. I hope you visit it the next time you’re in NYC!

  4. Joana Avatar

    Never heard about this lovely place, thanks for sharing it with all of us. Sorry Brooklynites:)

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      Thanks for reading! I hope you get to check it out someday.

  5. O LaMothe Avatar
    O LaMothe

    The best kept secrete is an adventure. I am very pleased to say I have done the Salt Marsh Many years ago I accompanied a group from my work place Nurses .We did not do the trail because, about 45 to 50 minutes after we got there it started to rain HEAVY .Maybe I can roundup the old gang of NURSES and, we can try again this summer.But in the evening when it is not too hot. We are older now and we will take in our stride.I .hope at least some of them will be interested.Thanks for the blog I have not thought of the Marsh for years. Good reminder.

    1. shilohinthecity Avatar

      That sounds like a fun memory. I hope you can recreate it but without all that rain!

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