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Whether you are a casual Sunday jogger or a serious road warrior with many marathons behind you, Central Park is a runner’s paradise, although it’s also a great place for a walking tour. If you feel the urge to stretch your legs and get a run in during your trip to NYC, head up to the park! Central Park offers several distance options and different types of terrain. No matter what your preference is, there is something for you!
Map below is from the New York Times. Click here for a printable version of the full map
Central Park Drive (the main road that goes around the park) can be broken down into different “loops,” so that you can customize your run for whatever distance you prefer. The distances can be altered by turning onto various “traverses,” or smaller roads that cut across the park. Unless noted, assume all routes begin at the southeast entrance to Central Park, at 59th St and 5th Ave.
A full loop around the entirety of Central Park Drive is about 6.1 miles. It is all on cement, and it ranges from flat (in the southern part of the park) to quite hilly (in the northern section of the park). A great run for those used to distance running and wanting to see as much of the park as possible!
5 Mile Loop
You can choose to cut off some of the distance and make Central Park Drive a 5 mile loop. This can be accomplished two different ways. If you want to keep it flatter, run Central Park Drive, but take the turn onto the 102nd St. Traverse rather than continuing north and doing the complete loop.
For a hilly challenge, start at the 72nd St Traverse and then run the loop of Central Park Drive all the way around and back to where you began.
4 Mile Loop
Sometimes called the “inner loop” or “middle loop” by local runners, this is great for those who want a shorter distance but still want to see a lot of the park. It also cuts out the challenging hills in the northern part of the park. Start at the 72nd St Traverse and then run north. Take the turn-off at the 102nd St Traverse and continue around back to the start.
1.7 Mile Loop
One of the shorter distances that you can do on Central Park Drive. For a quick but beautiful run, begin at either of the southern park entrances (east or west), and run up to the 72nd St Traverse, where you will take the turn-off and then continue back around to your starting point. Bonus: this part of the park is pretty flat!!
1.4 Miles with all hills!
For those who want a quick but challenging run- head uptown! This route can be started from either of the northern entrances to the park on 110th St. Begin on Central Park Drive and then take the turn-off at the 102nd St. Traverse and continue back to where you began. The largest hills are in the part of the park, so be ready to feel your legs!!
Some Tips For Running on Central Park Drive
The Reservoir Path
The path around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is quite possibly the most beautiful run in the entire park. This is a dirt path (great for those with knee problems!) and it is relatively flat. The distance of one loop around the Reservoir is about 1.6 miles, so it is perfect for anyone that wants a quick but stunning run. The best way to get there is from the 86th St or 96th St entrances on either side of the park.
Some Tips for Running the Reservoir
The Bridle Path
There are two loops of this dirt path. There is one that goes around the outer edge of the Reservoir (1.7 miles) and one that continues a bit further north into the park (2.5 miles). To take the longer route, start by the southern end of the Reservoir and then continue past the Reservoir towards the North Ball Fields and the 102nd St Traverse. Continue around the Bridle Path and back to where you started.
Some Things to Know
General Tips for Running In Central Park
For The Ultimate New York Running Experience…
If you enjoy racing, see what is going on during your visit. There are dozens of races run in Central Park all year long, so get out there are run with the locals. New York Road Runners sponsors many races, so check out www.nyrr.org to see what might work for you!
Like what you see on your run?
Take one of our Central Park walking tours to learn more about this beautiful urban oasis. Check out calendar for dates/times.