Gateway National Recreation Area
Monmouth County, NJ


Sandy Hook State Park is in Monmouth County and can be reached from Highway 36. Take exit 117 from the Garden State Parkway. Then take NJ 36 east toward Highlands. After crossing the Highlands bridge, bear right and follow signs to park entrance. Proceed past entrance and go two miles to the visitor's center parking lot (on right). To explore the Fort Hancock area, you must pick up a "History Pass" here.


Sandy Hook is a narrow, sandy spit seven miles long, extending into the Atlantic Ocean and lower New York Bay. It is a barrier beach with the ocean on one side and a bay on the other. The beaches migrate because of littoral drift, that is, the sand is slowly moved in the same direction as the near shore current. Every time a wave hits the beach, some sand is picked up and redeposited as the wave ebbs. At Sandy Hook, the littoral drift is from south to north, therefore the beaches at the Hook's northern tip are increasing in size and the ones to the south are decreasing.

When the Sandy Hook lighthouse was built in 1764, it stood near the northern tip of the spit, but now, as you will see during your walk, it is a mile and a half south of the tip. There is some concern that Sandy Hook will again become an island, as it has been several times in the past.


The visitors center, in a building dating from 1894, is housed at Spermaceti Cove, an early site of the first eight life-saving stations built on the Jersey coastline.

The light house was built at the request of New York merchants wanting to protect their ships entering the harbor, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse was lighted for the first time on June 11, 1764. The octagonal tower was the fifth lighthouse in the colonies and remains the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. The lighthouse was occupied by British soldiers during the American Revolution, and was bombarded by cannons served by Patriot troops. It was also the sanctuary to local refugees who were sympathizers of the King.

The grounds around the Lighthouse are open daily, with volunteers from the N.J. Lighthouse Society offering tours inside. Tours are limited on a first-come, first-served basis. From Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends, special use fees for beach parking are charged, while entry to the historic district is free.

Sandy Hook

Richard Hartshorne, an early settler of Middletown, purchased Sandy Hook. His descendants held title to it until 1816.

Others say that Hartshorne sold the tip in 1806 and then he sold the rest in 1817 to the government. 352-353

Beck, Henry Charlton. 1984 from 1934 original. The Jersey Midlands. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.


Sandy Hook has holly forests, fresh- and saltwater marshes, sand dunes.


Dr. Richard Stalter, Dr. Eric Lamont, Karl Anderson, Louis E. Hand

Abutilon theophrasti (velvet leaf)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 9/04/96
Aegopodium podagraria (goutweed)
Agalinis purpurea (purple agalinis)
Agrostemma githago (corn cockle)
Agrostis capillaris (Rhode Island bentgrass)
Ailanthus altissimus (tree-of-heaven)
Albizia julibrissin (silk tree)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Alnus glutinosa (black alder)
Amaranthus retroflexus (rough pigweed)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) 9/04/96
Amelanchier canadensis (shadbush)
Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)
Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo)
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (porcelain berry)
Andropogon gerardi (big blue stem grass)
Anethum graveolens
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes)
Anthemis tinctoria (yellow chamomile)
Apios americana (groundnut)
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp dogbane)
Arabidopsis thaliana (mouse-ear cress)
Arabis lyrata (lyre-leaved rockcress)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arenaria serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved sandwort)
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Aronia x prunifolia (purple chokeberry)
Artemisia biennis (biennial wormwood)
Artemisia campestris v. caudata (tall wormwood)
Artemisia stelleriana (dusty miller)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort) 9/04/96
Asclepias incarnata var pulchra (swamp milkweed)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) 7/15/95
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)
Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Aster dumosus (long-stalked aster)
Aster ericoides (heath aster) 9/24/95
Aster laevis (smooth aster) 9/04/96
Aster pilosus (aster)
Aster puniceus (purple-stemmed aster)
Aster racemosus (small white aster) 9/24/95
Aster tenuifolius (perennial salt marsh aster)
Aster undulatus (clasping heart-leaved aster)
Atriplex arenaria (seabeach orache)
Atriplex patula (orache)
Avena sativa (oats grass)
Baccharis halimifolia (groundsel tree) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Barbarea verna (early wintercress)
Bassia hirsuta (hirsute bassia)
Bassia hyssopifolia (bassia)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Berberis vulgaris (common barberry)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Bidens bipinnata (Spanish needles) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Bidens laevis (showy beggar ticks)
Bidens polylepis (tickseed sunflower)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Bromus japonicus (Japanese broom grass)
Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush)
Bulbostylis capillaris
Cakile edentula (sea rocket) 9/04/96
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)
Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)
Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)
Cardamine hirsuta (hoary bittercress)
Carex kobomugi (Japanese sedge)
Catalpa bignonioides (southern catalpa)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Cenchrus longispinus (long-spined sandbur)
Cenchrus tribuloides (sandbur)
Centaurea cyanus (knapweed)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) 7/15/95 9/24/95
Cephalanthus occidentalis (button bush)
Chamaecrista fasciculata (partridge pea)
Chamaecrista nictitans (wild sensitive plant)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Chenopodium ambrosioides (Mexican tea) 09/04/96
Chenopodium leptophyllum
Chenopodium pratericola
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Chloris verticillata (windmill fingergrass)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 9/04/96
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Circaea lutetiana v canadensis (enchanter's nightshade)
Cirsium discolor (field thistle) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) 9/04/96
Clematis terniflora (yam-leaved clematis)
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower) 9/04/96
Comandra umbellata (bastard toad flax)
Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)
Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed)
Conyza canadensis v. canadensis (horseweed) 9/04/96
Conyza canadensis v. pusilla (horseweed) 9/04/96
Coreopsis lanceolata (long-stalked tickseed)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Cycloloma atriplicifolium (winged pigweed)
Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass)
Cyperus diandrus (two-stemmed nutsedge)
Cyperus difformis (two-form nutsedge)
Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge)
Cyperus filicinus (fern- like flat sedge)
Cyperus grayii (Gray's flat sedge)
Cyperus lupulinus ssp macilentus (hop-like nutsedge)
Cyperus microiria (small nutsedge)
Cyperus retrorsus (pine barrens nutsedge)
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella nutsedge)
Cytisus scoparius (scotch broom) 9/04/96
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Datura stramonium (jimson weed)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/15/95 9/24/95
Delphinium ajacis?
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 9/24/95
Digitaria ischaemum (smooth crab grass)
Digitaria sanquinalis (crab grass)
Diodia teres (buttonweed) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Distichlis spicata (spike grass)
Draba verna (Whitlow grass)
Echinochloa crus-galli (barnyard grass)
Echium vulgare (viper's bugloss) 7/15/95 9/04/96
Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olive elaeagnus)
Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn olive elaeagnus)
Eleocharis ovata (ovate spikerush)
Eleusine indica (goose grass)
Epilobium coloratum (purple-leaved willow herb)
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Eragrostis cilianensis (stink grass)
Eragrostis curvula (African love grass)
Eragrostis spectabilis (purple love grass)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane)
Erigeron philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)
Erigeron strigosus (lesser daisy fleabane)
Erodium cicutarium (red-stem filaree)
Euonymus atropurpurea (burning bush)
Eupatorium album (white thoroughwort) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Eupatorium hyssopifolium (hyssop-leaved boneset) 9/04/96
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 9/04/96
Eupatorium serotinum (late flowering boneset) 9/24/95
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Euphorbia maculata (milk purslane) 9/04/96
Euphorbia polygonifolia (seaside spurge) 9/04/96
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 9/24/95
Euthamia tenuifolia (narrow grass-leaved goldenrod) 9/04/96
Festuca ovina (sheep fescue)
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Froelichia gracilis (cottonweed) 09/04/96
Galinsoga parviflora (lesser quickweed)
Galinsoga quadriradiata (common quickweed)
Galium aparine (cleavers)
Galium circaezens (wild licorice)
Galium palustre (marsh bedstraw) 9/04/96
Galium pilosum (hairy bedstraw)
Galium tinctorium (Clayton's bedstraw)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Geranium carolinianum var. confertiflorum (Carolina geranium)
Geranium robertianum (herb Robert geranium) 7/15/95
Glechoma hederacea (gill over the ground)
Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Helianthus petiolaris (prairie sunflower) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Heterotheca subaxillaris (camphorweed) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rose mallow) 9/04/96
Hieracium caespitosum (field hawkweed)
Hieracium floribundum (pale hawkweed)
Hieracium pilosella (mouse-ear hawkweed) 9/04/96
Holosteum umbellatum
Honckenya peploides ssp. robusta
Hosta sp. (hosta)
Hudsonia ericoides (golden heather)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort)
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort) 9/04/96
Hypochoeris radicata (cat's ear) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Ilex glabra (inkberry)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Iva frutescens var. oraria (marsh elder)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus gerardii (black grass)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Kochia scoparia (summer cypress)
Lactuca biennis (tall blue lettuce)
Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce) 9/04/96
Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce) 9/04/96
Lamium amplexicaule (henbit)
Lamium purpureum (purple dead nettle)
Lathyrus japonicus (beach pea)
Lathyrus latifolius (everlasting pea) 7/15/95
Lechea maritima (beach pinweed)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort)
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper) 9/04/96
Leptoloma cognatum (fall witch grass )
Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)
Lespedeza cuneata (Chine bush clover)
Lespedeza procumbens (trailing bush clover) 9/94/96
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Ligustrum amurense (privet)
Ligustrum ovalifolium
Ligustrum regalis? (privet)
Ligustrum vulgare (common privet)
Limonium nashii (sea lavender) 9/04/96
Linaria canadensis (blue-toad flax)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Lithospermum arvense (corn gromwell)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) 9/04/96
Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian honeysuckle)
Lonicera sp. (honeysuckle)
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 9/04/96
Lunaria annua (honesty)
Lycopus americana (American water horehound)
Lycopus europaeus (European water horehound) 9/24/95
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia water horehound)
Lysimachia punctata (spotted loosestrife)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Matricaria matricarioides (pineapple weed)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 9/04/96
Medicago sativa (alfalfa)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 9/04/96
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)
Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Mikania scandens (climbing hempweed)
Mirabilis hirsuta (hairy umbrellawort)
Mirabilis nyctaginea (umbrellawort)
Mitchella repens (partridge berry)
Mollugo verticillata (carpetweed) 9/24/96
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Morus rubra (red mulberry)
Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) 9/04/96
Myosotis micrantha (blue forget-me-not)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Nepeta cataria (catnip) 9/04/96
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Oenothera laciniata (cut-leaf evening primrose)
Oenothera parviflora var. oakesiana (small-flowered evening primrose)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Opuntia humifusa ( prickly pear cactus)
Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram)
Ornithogallum umbellatum (star-of-Bethlehem)
Orobanche uniflora (one-flowered cancerroot)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Oxalis corniculata
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel ) 9/24/95
Panicum amarulum (slightly bitter panic grass)
Panicum amarum (short dune grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Panicum leucothrix (white-haired panic grass)
Panicum oligosanthes (few-flowered panic grass)
Panicum sphaerocarpon (spherical-fruited panic grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch panic grass)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper ) 7/15/95
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston ivy)
Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pinus nigra (Austrian pine)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus sylvestris (scotch pine)
Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine)
Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine)
Plantago aristata (bracted plantain) 7/15/95
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Plantago major (common plantain)
Plantago maritima? (seaside plantain)
Plantago psyllium (leafy-stemmed plantain)
Plantago rugelii (American plantain)
Platanus x hybrida (London plane tree)
Pluchea odorata (marsh fleabane)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Polygonatum biflorum (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonella articulata (sand jointweed)
Polygonum arenastrum (dooryard knotweed)
Polygonum aviculare (knotweed)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese smartweed)
Polygonum glaucum (seaside knotweed)
Polygonum hydropiperoides (false water pepper)
Polygonum lapathifolium (nodding smartweed)
Polygonum pensylvanicum (Pennsylvania smartweed)
Polygonum prolificum (knotweed)
Polygonum punctatum (punctate knapweed)
Polygonum ramosissimum (knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum scandens (climbing false buckwheat)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Populus alba (white poplar)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Populus grandidentata (large-toothed aspen)
Populus nigra (black poplar)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Portulaca oleracea (common purslane) 09/04/96
Potentilla argentea (silvery cinquefoil)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil)
Proboscidea louisiana (devil's claw)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Prunus maritima (beach plum) 9/04/96
Prunus persica (peach)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)
Ptilimnium capillaceum (mock bishopweed)
Puccinellia maritima (seashore alkali grass)
Pyrocantha coccinea
Pyrus communis (pear tree)
Pyrus malus (apple tree)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf buttercup)
Ranunculus bulbosus (bulbous buttercup)
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish)
Rhododendron canadense (rhodora)
Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)
Rhus copallinum (winged sumac)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rosa rugosa (beach rose) 7/14/95
Rosa virginiana (pasture rose)
Rubus allegheniensis (blackberry)
Rubus flagellaris (northern dewberry)
Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (red raspberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rudbeckia hirta v pulcherrima (black-eye Susan)
Rumex acetosella (field sorrel)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex ortusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Rumex verticillatus (swamp dock)
Ruppia maritima (ditch grass)
Sagina decumbens (pearlwort)
Salicornia europaea (common glasswort)
Salicornia virginica (Virginia glasswort)
Salix alba (white willow)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Salsola kali (common saltwort)
Salsola kali ssp tenuifolia
Salsola tragus (Russian thistle)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet) 9/24/95
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)
Scirpus pungens (common three-square)
Scirpus validus (softstem bulrush sedge)
Scleranthus annuus (knawel)
Sedum acre (golden carpet stonecrop)
Senecio vulgaris (common groundsel)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Silene antirrhina (sleepy catchfly)
Silene latifolia (white campion) 9/04/96
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 9/04/96
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's-seal)
Smilacina stellata (starry false Solomon's-seal)
Smilax glauca (sawbrier)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Solanum carolinense (horse nettle)
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade) 9/04/96
Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Solidago elliottii (coastal swamp goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) 9/04/96
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod) 9/04/96
Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod)
Solidago sempervirens var. mexicana (seaside goldenrod)
Solidago sempervirens var. sempervirens (seaside goldenrod) 9/24/95
Solidago ulmifolia (elm-leaved goldenrod)
Sonchus sp. (sow thistle)
Spartina alterniflora (salt marsh hay cordgrass)
Spartina patens (salt meadow cordgrass)
Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass)
Spergula arvensis (corn spurrey)
Spergularia marina (salt marsh sand spurrey)
Spergularia rubra (sand spurrey)
Stellaria media (common chickweed)
Strophostyles helvola (trailing wild bean) 9/24/95
Suaeda americana (northeastern seablite)
Suaeda linearis (tall sea blite)
Syringa vulgaris (common lilac)
Taraxacum laevigatum (red-seeded dandelion)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 9/04/96
Teucrium canadense (American germander)
Thelypteris palustris (swamp fern)
Thymus serphyllum (wild thyme)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort)
Tragopogon dubius (fistulous goatsbeard)
Tragopogon pratensis (showy goat's beard)
Triadenum virginicum (marsh saint johnswort)
Trichostema dichotomum (blue curls) 9/04/96 9/24/95
Trichostema setaceum (blue curls)
Tridens flavus (purpletop grass)
Trifolium arvense ( rabbit's foot clover) 7/15/95
Trifolium campestre (pinnate hop clover)
Trifolium dubius (least hop clover)
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 7/15/95 9/04/96 9/24/95
Trifolium repens (white clover) 7/15/95
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus looking glass)
Triplasis purpurea (purple sand grass)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Utricularia sp. (bladderwort)
Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein) 7/15/95 9/04/96
Verbena hastata (blue vervain) 9/04/96
Veronica arvensis (corn speedwell)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica peregrina (purslane speedwell)
Viburnum dentatum var lucidum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum var venosum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum molle (Missouri arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum opulus (highbush cranberry viburnum)
Vicia cracca (crown vetch)
Vicia grandiflora (big flower vetch)
Vicia villosa (hairy vetch)
Vinca major (greater periwinkle)
Viola sororia (common blue violet)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)
Vitis riparia (riverbank grape)
Vitis vulpina (frost grape)
Wisteria floribunda (Japanese wisteria)
Xanthium strumarium v canadense (seabeach clotbur)
Xanthium strumarium v glabratum (cocklebur)
Yucca filamentosa (spanish bayonet) 9/04/96
Zostera marina (eel grass)

David Snyder found Oenothera oakesiana north of South Beach parking lot