When wandering the concrete jungle of New York City it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the towering skyscrapers and miles of asphalt surrounding you wherever you go. Luckily NYC is blessed with an assortment of parks, the most famous of which is of course Central Park. This 843 acre man made park offers a great break from the sprawling urban expanse and features not only a natural getaway but also a complex and varied network of trails spanning over 58 miles and giving visitors a chance to explore the park in a new and unique way every time they visit.
Runners, lace up your shoes and put on your shortest shorts; Central Park is the best place in the city to knock out a couple of miles before or after work. The Park Drives circle the entire park and offer the longest running routes, coming in at 6.1 or 5.2 miles. Be wary that the paved drives have a lower loop that is open to traffic at certain times of the day, but always feature a runners’ lane. If you prefer softer ground try out Bridle Path, which offers three conjoined dirt routes: The Reservoir Loop, North Meadow Loop, and the Southern Spur, all around 1 to 1.5 miles long. If you enjoy the Reservoir Loop, try the newly renovated Stephanie and Fred Shuman Reservoir Running Track, a 1.58 mile loop of crushed gravel that offers some of the best views of the midtown skyline. Also be sure to check out the official Central Park Running Map.
If you prefer a slower pace and are looking for a more natural view, Central Park still offers plenty of trails for visitors to take a more leisurely stroll among the scenery. The Ramble is a 36-acre “wild garden” that offers visitors not only miles of sprawling trails and pathways to hike, but also one of the park’s best areas to birdwatch and explore. The Ravine is another area of the park that features waterfalls and winding dirt paths perfect for exploring and losing yourself in. Finally, the North Woods offers possibly the most secluded and peaceful expanse of trails in the entire park. This area of thick woodlands in the Park’s northwest corner features a taste of the Adirondack Mountains all while sitting just a few subway stops away from Times Square.
No matter what you want out of your brief escape into nature, let Central Park and it’s expanse of trails open up a new road for your time in the greatest city in the world.