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Exploring Fire Island’s Meat Rack—A Famous Spot for Hookups & A Bridge Between The Pines & Cherry Grove

Nestled between the quaint communities of Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove lies a place shrouded in both mystery and allure – the Meat Rack. This dense, untamed forest has become a symbol of liberation and clandestine encounters, drawing visitors from all walks of life.

On my most recent summer trip to the Pines for the 4th of July, I spent some time rediscovering the Meat Rack, hoping to understand its magnetic pull and discover the stories hidden within its tangled paths.

The Arrival

The adventure began with a ferry ride from Sayville, NY, to Fire Island Pines, a serene and picturesque community known for its pristine beaches and vibrant LGBTQ+ culture. As the boat cut through the waters of the Great South Bay, I could feel a sense of anticipation building among the passengers. Conversations about weekend plans, upcoming parties, and the island’s storied history filled the air.

Stepping off the ferry, I was greeted by the charming wooden, raised boardwalks of the Pines, lined with overgrown shrubs and the modernist entrances to homes and the small, car-free boulevards leading to either the ocean side or the bay side of the island.

The atmosphere walking the Pines boardwalk is simultaneously relaxed yet buzzing with energy, a perfect blend of tranquility and excitement. Everyone says hello to one another, little signs of friendliness while also checking each other out—admiring each other’s fashion (gay speedos!) and looking for party flyers pinned to house doors or the telephone poles.

Entering the Wilderness

The entrance to the Meat Rack is unassuming, a narrow path leading into a dense thicket. There’s a giant puddle where someone has places a single wooden plank to help get over it without making a mess.

As I ventured deeper, the sounds of the bustling community faded away, replaced by the rustle of leaves and the distant crashing of waves. The forest felt alive, with dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy and casting ever-changing patterns on the forest floor.

Navigating the winding trails, I encountered fellow explorers, each seemingly on their own journey. Some exchanged knowing glances, while others offered friendly nods, a silent acknowledgment of our shared destination. The path ahead was not always clear, and there were moments when I felt disoriented, but there was an undeniable thrill in the uncertainty.

The Stories Within

The Meat Rack has long been a place of intimate connections and secret rendezvous, its history woven into the fabric of gay culture. For decades, it has provided a sanctuary where individuals could express themselves freely, away from the prying eyes of society. As I wandered through the forest, I couldn’t help but think about the countless stories that had unfolded here – stories of love, lust, and liberation.

Below, some of the photos of the remnants of whatever happens in the Meat Rack. On my Friday night in the Meat Rack, I even stumbled on an early morning rave—something that only happens twice a summer, apparently. There’s always a surprise in the Meat Rack.

There wasn’t much trash or remnants of the hookups that happen here. On a Monday morning walk, around 9am, I found very little trash. Even the rave I’d stumbled into and danced at until nearly 6am on the weekend; there were no remnants. At that rave, the DJ made multiple announcements about it being a “leave no trace” party.

Walking between Cherry Grove and The Pines through the Meat Rack, if you walk directly, it shouldn’t take more than 15-18 minutes. The sand can be thick and that can make it feel a bit like a trek, but it’s mostly an easy and well-made path. It’s just when you wander off the off-shoots into the deeper brush where you stumble on possible hookups.

Reflections and Revelations

As the sun began to set, casting a golden glow over the forest, I found a quiet spot to sit and reflect, looking out on the bayside near the Belvedere Hotel. The Meat Rack is more than just a physical space; it’s a symbol of resilience and defiance, a testament to the enduring spirit of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a place where history and modernity converge, where every tree and trail holds a piece of the past and a promise for the future.

Leaving the forest, I felt a deep sense of connection to the countless individuals who had walked these paths before me. The Meat Rack, with its shadows and secrets, offers a glimpse into a world of hidden beauty and untold stories.

Fire Island Pines, with its vibrant community and natural splendor, is a destination that captivates the soul. The Meat Rack, in all its enigmatic glory, remains an integral part of that allure, inviting all who visit to explore its depths and discover the stories that lie within.