While running is considered one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise, running indoors on a treadmill can make one feel more like a hamster on a wheel than a powerful athlete. As warm weather approaches, consider running outdoors. Whether a tourist or resident, running outdoors in a city allows for more discovery and brings new meaning to “urban playground.”
Here are some of the best running trails in NYC that also serve as a self-guided tour of the sites.
The Hudson River Run
The Hudson River Greenway is a favorite among walkers, runners, cyclists, and everyone in between. Though it can get crowded, the views of the sunset, Hudson River, and some of the city’s best sights are worth it. Start at Battery Park and turn around at 14th street to make it a short three mile run, continue up to 79th for four, or run all the way up to the Bronx for a nearly 9-mile run. Running there in the early morning or early evening is best in order to avoid foot traffic. Some of the sights worth seeing are the Statue of Liberty, Chelsea Piers, USS Intrepid, art installations, and the George Washington Bridge.
Prospect Park Running Path
Prospect Park’s running path offers multiple loops of various distances, so beginners, marathoners, and everyone in-between are welcome. The main outer-loop provides a separate path for runners and walkers from bicyclists and the occasional car. A loop around the park includes a run along the lake, through Long Meadow, and Grand Army Plaza.
Central Park Around the Reservoir
The most popular place to run in Central Park is around the Reservoir. The route itself is a flat, well-maintained dirt path that circles around it. Starting at the Engineer’s Gate (which is on the East Side at 90th Street), there are markings labeling every 100 yards. In total, it is about 1.57 miles around. There is also a secondary path called the Lower Reservoir Loop that’s about 1.66 miles. Since both are on a dirt path, they are good on the knees.
The East River Run
For amazing waterfront views of Manhattan and an amazing long route, run along the East River. Start at the top of Central Park, go over the RFK Bridge to Randall’s Island to Queens and back. The total route is 16.07 miles, or could be cut down to 5.26 for a shorter route by skipping Queens and running along the west side of Randall’s Island after crossing the 125th St. Bridge.
This route has runners cross five bridges and run through three boroughs. The bridges you’ll cross include 59th St. Bridge, the Pulaski Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and, last but never least, the Brooklyn Bridge. Start near Central Park at the 59th St. Bridge and work southward for a total of 16.68 miles. For a shorter three mile run, runners can start at Borough Hall and head over the Brooklyn Bridge, cut to the Manhattan Bridge and then run back to the starting point. The route is complicated, so first-time runners should consider the buddy system.
For a short run along the East River, Brooklyn side, try running along Kent Avenue. Start around Broadway and Kent and run north, under the Williamsburg Bridge, past the old Domino Sugar Refinery, and up towards the East River Park that opens up a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. Kent Avenue will turn into Franklin Avenue and end at a playground, which is the best place to turn around and go back to the beginning, creating roughly a four mile route.