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Running in Central Park

Runner's Map
Central Park Running Map

The famous New York Marathon has its final miles in Central Park every year and it's easy to understand why: the park, with a variety of terrain and excellent scenery, is the ultimate runner's dream. With its many paths that range in level of difficulty, Central Park allows a runner to experience clarity and freedom in this picturesque urban oasis.

An excellent time to run is when the park is closed to traffic, Monday through Friday from 10AM - 3PM and 7PM - 10PM and also on the weekends starting at 7PM on Friday through 6AM on Monday. If you can't fit in a run during these times, a runner's lane (the innermost recreation lane) is always available. It is recommended, for safety reasons, that you run against the traffic.

There are a variety of loops and locations that are ideal for running in the park.  Below are some of the most popular:

A full loop through Central Park is nearly 6.1 miles and runs along the Park Drives on the West and East sides using the various transverses to cut across the park.  Shorter variations are also possible.  For example, you could take two 5-mile loops through the lower and upper sections of the park or a 1.7 mile loop in the southern part of the park by the Tavern on the Green.

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The Reservoir loop gives runners a soft surface cinder pathway of just over 1.5 miles around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.  It has a slight 2º slope and offers spectacular city views.  Stay to the right on this path and run counterclockwise.

There are also two Bridle Path Loops to choose from, both on dirt.  The shorter of the two is 1.66 miles and circles around the Reservoir below the aforementioned cinder path.  The Full Bridle Path Loop is 2.5 miles and extends beyond the Reservoir, further north to the North Meadow fields and across the 102nd Street Transverse.  It eventually rejoins the main path after some time on the West Drive.  Please note that horses have the right of way on the Bridle Paths, so make sure that you are aware of their location.

Download a free running map here.

Also, if you want some company on your run, check out our Central Park Running Group at WalkJogRun.net.  The New York Road Runners hosts more than 100 running events every year in Central Park, and also has a kiosk in the park at the East 90th Street Entrance and East Drive by theEngineers' Gate.  Open from 6:30AM- 7:00PM Monday through Friday, 10:00AM- 5:00PM on Saturday and 10:00AM - 3:00PM on Sunday, runners can go here for assistance and information about events.

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Top of Page Header Photo: © Rick Anderson 2014
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