Knowing the weather is getting ready to be sunny and warm, we recommend running in the city’s beautiful parks. After all, is there any better way to get in shape while appreciating the city’s natural attractions? The next time you’re going running, test out any of these running trails in NYC’s parks.
1. Central Park
The most visited park in the United States has at least three running tracks suitable for your daily run:
Stephanie and Fred Shuman Reservoir Running Track: Located around the Reservoir, this 1.58-mile loop features an unrivaled view of almost 100 acres of water, the Manhattan skyline and is one of the most popular running destinations worldwide. Central Park Conservancy recently renovated the track to improve the drainage and regrade the surface, hence significantly improving the running experience for everyone. The running track spreads over almost the entire width of the Park, spanning from 86th Street to 96th Street.
Bridle Path: This path allows you to choose from three unified soft surface dirt routes: The Reservoir loop (next to the Reservoir Track), totals 1.66 miles; the North Meadow loop totals 1.1 miles; and the southern spur totals 1.5 miles.
Park Drives: Since the Park Drives circle the entire park, they yield the park’s longest routes (6.1 miles or 5.2 miles). While the Park Drives north of 72nd Street are always closed to traffic, the lower loop is open to traffic at certain times of the day. When it is closed, a runners' lane is always available. However, we suggest running on the weekends, or from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on weekdays to avoid all car traffic.
Map out your journey on the Central Park Running map.
2. Randall’s Island Park
What’s amazing about Randall’s Island Park is the eight miles of bicycle and pedestrian pathways throughout the Park and along its waterfront, which leads to a pleasurable walk, run, or bike ride. Moreover, the trails are also used for non-vehicular commuting between Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, through the 103rd Street Footbridge in Manhattan, the Randall’s Island-Bronx Connector, and via walkways along the RFK Triborough Bridge.
To get your daily exercise, run/bike on the 2-mile, 2.9-mile, or 4.9-mile route!
3. Van Cortlandt Park
The 1,146-acre park in the Bronx is the third largest park in New York City, so it’d be a shame not to run or bike there at least once (no matter where you live). In fact, the park has five stunning trails to choose from:
Putnam Trail: Located on the west side of Van Cortlandt Lake and along Tibbetts Brook, this 1.5–mile trail has the old rail bed of the New York Central Railroad’s Putnam Division, and the former rail line’s passages integrated into the park’s landscape, in the form of iron bridge structures at the south and large underpasses below the roadways.
As you head north, you’ll notice several connections to the John Kieran Nature Trail. Further, the trail crosses a small bridge showing part of Van Cortlandt Lake, the Bronx’s largest freshwater lake. Take a few minutes to enjoy the views of the Bronx skyline and spacious golf course clubhouse from across the lake.
Upon reaching the Westchester County line, you can continue along the adjacent South County Trailway, a 2.35-mile asphalt-paved trail ending at Redmond Park in Yonkers.
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail: This trail totals 1.1 miles and presents the area’s most distinctive forests in New York City, including majestic tulip trees, sugar maples, and American sycamores. It’s also famous for covering the historic 42-mile tunnel designed to increase NYC’s freshwater supply. When walking the trail, look for the telltale mound encasing the aqueduct tunnel in order to understand how it complements the landscape. Did you know the trail was placed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places in 1974?
John Kieran Nature Trail: Founded in 1987, the John Kieran Nature Trail shows some picturesque natural highlights along the 1.25-mile path, starting with Van Cortlandt Lake. You’ll discover a wide variety of animals along the way, including but not limited to the mallard and wood ducks by the lake, red–winged blackbirds and great egrets among the stalks, and different species of chipmunks in the New York fern and Virginia knotweed.
John Muir Trail: Established in 1997, the 1.5-mile pathway is Van Cortlandt’s only east–west trail, extending beyond the steep terrain in the middle connecting Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park East; take the virtual tour!
Cass Gallagher Nature Trail: This path lasts for 1.4 miles and was named in 1984 after a longtime Bronx resident and environmentalist who was committed to protecting and improving the park. Regarding nature sights, the Cass Gallagher trail offers the Northwest Forest off Broadway and Mosholu Avenue.
4. Prospect Park
Prospect Park is inarguably the best running spot in Brooklyn. This ‘running jewel’ has numerous loops for runners and bikers; view the running map here and the most common routes below:
- Full inner-loop: 3.36 miles
- Full outer-loop: 3.68 miles
- Southern-loop (red and green): 1.76 miles
- Larger Southern-loop (red and orange): 2.06 miles
- Middle-loop (green and orange): 1.54 miles
- Larger Northern-loop (brown, blue, and green): 2.84 miles
- Northern-loop (brown, blue, and orange): 2.44 miles