Central Park is a runner’s paradise. In celebration of this month’s TCS New York City Marathon, we’re sharing the best routes and Park tips for runners. Did you know the first New York City Marathon, in 1970, consisted entirely of loops around Central Park? Now, runners pass through all five boroughs before reaching the finish line at 67th Street on West Drive.
The Park offers a wide variety of loops and trails, and there is no shortage of groups that use the Park as their running hub. Enjoy this runner’s guide to Central Park—and be sure to download our official running map before you hit the pavement!
Choosing where to run in Central Park
One of the most popular running destinations in the world surrounds the Reservoir. The Stephanie and Fred Shuman Reservoir Running Track is a 1.58-mile loop that offers some of the Park’s best views of the City. The track—a soft surface made of crushed gravel—spans almost the entire width of the Park and reaches from 86th to 96th Street.
Going the distance? Paved drives circle the entire Park and provide the longest routes. The longest loop in the Park totals 6.1 miles.
If you’re looking for a soft, dirt surface to run on, the bridle path is for you. It stretches almost the entire length of the Park, and a 1.66-mile bridle path loop surrounds the Reservoir running track. Keep an eye out for leashed dogs and horses (yes, really!).
Aside from the Park’s popular loops, there are countless other places to run. The Great Lawn Oval contains a paved path that is shaped like a track and measures almost exactly one-half mile. Take a jog through the Ramble or the North Woods to feel like you’re in the woods. If you’re looking for a challenging hill, try the Park’s upper loop or a jog from the Loeb Boathouse to the 79th Street Transverse Road.
Park secrets for runners
Central Park contains a little-known nod to Fred Lebow, creator of the New York City Marathon. Look for a bronze statue of Lebow staring at his stopwatch at Engineers’ Gate at Fifth Avenue and 90th Street (where runners enter the Park on race day). Because the statue is temporary, it must be moved at least once a year—appropriately, it is moved to the finish line of the marathon each race day.
If you’re running in the Park, it’s likely you’re keeping an eye out for drinking fountains. The Park contains dozens of them, but most are turned off in the winter because their pipes are close enough to the ground’s surface to be susceptible to freezing. Seven drinking fountains stay on year-round, due to either the location of their pipes or their design. Find those fountains (and restrooms, too!) on our official running map.
If you get lost while running in the Park, lampposts can help you find your way. Check the four numbers on any lamppost base—the first two numbers indicate the nearest street (“60” would mean 60th Street) and the last two numbers designate whether you’re on the west or east side (odd number means west, even number means east).
Looking for a place to store your stuff while you run? The New York Road Runners RUNCENTER, on 57th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, serves as a meeting place for the running community and offers lockers for runners. New York Running Company at Columbus Circle also provides lockers.
Tips for watching the marathon
Roughly 50,000 runners will complete the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 5. Cheer on these runners—and the more than 30 runners who are competing on behalf of Team Central Park—while spectating from the Park.
Experience the excitement by watching from any of these areas: Fifth Avenue from 90th to 110th Street, East Drive from 59th to 90th Street, West Drive from 59th to 66th Street, 59th Street from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West, and Columbus Circle. Large portions of the Park will be closed to all visitors on race day—visit our alerts and closures page for more details.
Whether you’re training for the marathon, going for a short jog, or trying a new hobby with friends, we hope our official running map and these tips help you make the most of running in Central Park. Visit our running page for even more information.
Commemorate the completion of a marathon or race with a paving stone on Gilder Run, located on the steps of Bridge No. 24, which connects the East Drive with the Reservoir running track. Normally $5,000, there are a limited number of stones available at a discounted rate of $3,500 now through the end of December.