Run around New York City: 10 great places to hit the pavement
With over 1,700 parks, waterfront pathways, and recreational facilities spread out over five boroughs, New York City is one giant playground for runners. In fact, running is on the rise in the city with more than 50,000 finishers in the last TCS New York City Marathon and a slew of running clubs that meet nearly every day. From easy runs along tree-lined paths to longer, more challenging circuits over bridges and hills, the following Big Apple running routes will have you itching to lace up your sneakers and get moving.
1. Five Bridges Run
If the same old routes just aren’t cutting it anymore, try the Five Bridges Run. This path takes you through three different boroughs and over the 59th St. Bridge, Pulaski Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The route is a bit helter-skelter, so you might want to bring a GPS device to help you navigate. For those who still want the bridge experience but aren’t into 17-mile runs, try the shorter 6-mile route over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
2. Van Cortlandt Park
Tucked away in a wooded area of the Bronx, the Van Cortlandt Park has a 1.25-mile rubber running track at the stadium and wooded trails that make their way north of the Bronx. Looking for a challenge? Try the famous 3.1-mile cross-country trail that tests even top marathon runners with its steep inclines through forested areas and fallen trees and rocks.
3. Prospect Park
Prospect Park is about half the size of Central Park, but it has a ton of loops that traverse hills and pass by pretty natural features like the lake, streams, and a tree-cloaked ravine. While you may feel that you are surrounded by nature, you will also be sharing the paths with cars, cyclists, and other runners. However, cars are only allowed to use the park from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, so you will find that the paths are blissfully car-free for most of the day.
4. Astoria Park
For a pleasant run and cool river breezes, make your way to Astoria Park in Queens. Here you will find a quarter-mile public track that’s great for laps, as well as multiple trails that run around the perimeter of the park. The route around the park is about 1.5 miles, and there are plenty of places to stop for a breather, relax on a bench, and take in views of the Manhattan skyline across the river. If you’re feeling overheated after your run, take a dip in the outdoor pool, the city's largest and oldest public pool.
5. Hudson River Path
For those who want a bit of scenery while they sprint, the Hudson River Path (also known as the West Side Path) is an easy tree-lined route that stretches from Battery Park to the top of Manhattan. If you're visiting the city, this route is also a great way to see some of the best sights, including the Statue of Liberty, George Washington Bridge, and the USS Intrepid. You can jump on or off the path wherever you like, or challenge yourself to do the whole 15.9 miles. Insider tip: The trail is quite popular with runners, cyclists, and walkers alike, especially in the afternoon, so try to come in the early morning when it's less likely to be crowded.
6. Central Park Reservoir
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir sits smack in the middle of Central Park and it is surrounded by a flat dirt path often called "The Res" by locals. Do a lap or two around the main 1.5-mile path or take the secondary 1.66-mile Lower Reservoir Loop. For a real workout, run the 6-mile Central Park Loop, which covers various types of terrain. The nice thing about the Reservoir run is that you get great views of ducks and swans cavorting in the waters along the way.
7. East River Run
Spectacular waterfront views are just a few of the pay-offs for doing this challenging run that starts at Central Park, runs along the RFK Bridge to Randall’s Island, then through Queens and back to Central Park. Along the way, you can soak up scenes of Manhattan from across the water, stop for a water break or cool down on Randall’s Island, and marvel at the famous Hell’s Gate Bridge. The full route is 16 miles, but you can cut the run short to about 5 miles by skipping Queen’s and heading back to Manhattan over the Ward’s Island Bridge.
8. Inwood Hill Park
Situated on the far northern tip of Manhattan Island, Inwood Hill Park is a mainly untouched patch of wilderness. Locals come to get away from the urban sprawl and crowds of other outdoor enthusiasts. The park's trails make their way over hills and pass by caves, ridges, and forests, and they offer great views of the Hudson River. The Urban Park Ranchers launched a bald eagle release program here. If you’re lucky, you may see one flying above or perched in a tree. Maximize your workout by adding the neighboring Fort Tyron Park trails to your route.
9. Staten Island Boardwalk
At 2.5 miles long, the Staten Island Boardwalk is the world's fourth longest boardwalk. It’s also a great place for runners, as you’ll get views of the harbor, New Jersey, and the Atlantic Ocean. The boardwalk starts at Miller Field and runs to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Many running clubs schedule runs here, so there's a good chance that you’ll see plenty of fellow runners along the way.
10. Lower Manhattan Loop
The running route along the southern tip of Manhattan Island is flat, easy, and a great way to pack in some stellar sights. Start at the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex and make your way down East 23rd Street to the East River. Then follow your way south along the horn for views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the Hudson River. The best part? You can avoid pesky traffic by sticking to the jogging and cycling paths.