Running Map – Central Park
Central Park is the gem of Manhattan running. If you are adventurous enough, there are dozens of routes that one could take. There are the most common bike path routes and the dirt reservoir runs, but there are also trails in the North Woods and the dirt track on top of The Great Hill. For those looking for a scenic run, you can cruise through the Great Lawn or stop by Belvedere’s Castle.
The Upper Loop, North Woods, Great Hill Track
The Upper Loop is the hilliest of Central (aka. the Northern Hills). Following the bike path and using the 102nd Street cutoff, the loop runs about 1.4 miles. It is common to find runners use this section of the park for hill repeats.
The North Woods is roughly sketched out in blue on the map. The trails are short, and mainly dirt. At times the footing can be rocky, and is mainly used by walkers. It is nice to use for a change of scenery, especially if you are tired of running the same old loops around Central. There is a long hill that begins on the most northern part of the park which cuts through the middle of the woods. It is paved, so the footing is good and it brings you to the highest point on the west side of the Upper Loop, making for a smaller loop – good for repeats.
The Great Hill Track/Oval is a dirt loop around a nice green lawn (popular with the sun bathers). It is approximately 1/5th of a mile (more exact measurement coming soon). It is relatively flat, making it good for running tempos. There is a bathroom, which isn’t open year-round (just spring and summer), and a drinking fountain. Also, to get to the Great Hill Oval, you’ll have to run up the Great Hill, which there are a number of routes, all which are excellent locations for hill repeats.
The most popular place to run in Central Park has to be the Reservoir. There is a beautiful, flat, and well maintained dirt path that circles it (marked in red above). Generally, people run/walk the path in a counter clockwise fashion. Starting at the Engineer’s Gate (which is on the East Side at 90th Street), there are markings labeling every
110 yards 100 yards (A “Thank you” to the Stuyvesant Cross-Country team for catching this error). In total, it is about 1.57 miles around.
The lower bridle path (shown in blue above) also circles the Reservoir, and is sometimes called the Lower Reservoir Loop. It is a wide rolling dirt path that goes for 1.66 miles. Both are great for soft surface running.
Middle Loop and Bridle Loop
|Top: 4 mile Middle Loop. This is a very popular route. The hills are small, but rolling. A significant portion of this route is used for the New York Road Runner’s races in Central Park.
Another place to get away from the traditional bike path run, you can explore the Ramble. It is a series of short trails, but long enough to add some variety. It can get crowded, so I would recommend staying away during peak hours.
Left: Bridle Loop. This run is the best soft surface run in Central Park. The trail is wide and is only poor after heavy rain. There are small rolling hills.
The Lower Loop is a 1.7 mile run along the southern bike path and using the 72nd Street transverse to cut across the park. There are spray painted markings on the road indicating quarter mile segments through 1.5 miles.
The Bike Path and Combos
The bike path that loops around the entire park is approximately a 10K, about 6.1 miles. Combining the upper and middle loops makes about a 5.2 mile run. Also, combining the middle and lower loops make another ~5 mile run. If you get creative, there seems to be a good variety for Central Park runners.
Talk with other runners about Central Park at our message board.
- More detailed running routes
- Approximate distances
- Labels for scenic spots
- Labels for bathrooms and water fountains