Sometimes referred to as “Crown Jewel of Fire Island,” the Sunken Forrest is truly a natural wonder. This ancient primeval maritime forest is a beautiful canopy of tangled flora is a sea level hideaway protected by majestic dunes that restrict the forest’s abundant growth to consistent heights through a natural phenomenon known as “salt spray pruning.” A leisurely stroll through Sunken Forest is a fantastic way to spend the day out of the sun, and features some of Fire Island’s best bird watching and wildlife.
Threats of destruction to the Sunken Forrest for commercial development purposes prompted the establishment of the Sunken Forrest Preserve, Inc. in 1952. Steered by Point O’ Woods resident James N. Dunlop as President at the helm, Sunken Forrest Preserve, Inc. began the task of collecting donations from across Fire Island to slowly acquire land parcels within the forest. This campaign is considered the predecessor for the fight to keep Robert Moses from building a highway down the middle of Fire Island for it signaled the ability for Fire Islanders of all communities to unite.
“I sometimes think that it is by such little-noticed actions for the public good that the world is held together,” wrote author Herman Wouk in a letter dated 1955 along with his contribution check to the cause.
In 1966, after the establishment of Fire Island National Seashore the Sunken Forrest Preserve, Inc. transferred over the considerable deed holdings that they had accumulated for more than a decade to the National Park Service. Today FINS manages the Sunken Forrest and the adjacent Sailor’s Haven together making it an incredible public visiting experience. The Sunken Forrest is accessible by ferry from Sayville, NY as well as lateral water taxi and of course private boat with docking at Sailor’s Haven where refreshments and amenities await visitors after a day’s hike.