Central Park

Location


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Park Overview:

The one and only – this masterwork of urban landscape architecture, located in the Borough of Manhattan, created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux 

Trail Uses:Hiking, Mountain biking, Handicapped
Dogs:Dogs on leash
Trail Miles:
Park Acreage:843 acres
City/County/
State:
Borough of Manhattan/New
York/NY
Web Map:Central Park Conservancy park map
Park Description:

Central Park offers an amazing variety of outdoor activities to experience throughout the seasons – hiking among them with some great trails in serene and scenic places.   

For out-of-town visitors the place to start planning for a hike or to see notable landmarks is at the web site of the Central Park Conservancy (a private, nonprofit organization; link in “Contact Information” below). For New Yorkers seeking some serenity, designated quiet zones in Central Park include Strawberry Fields, Sheep Meadow, East Green, Turtle Pond, Shakespeare Garden, and Conservatory Garden.

Leashed dogs are welcomed in the park but in certain places and at certain times.  See Conservancy website under “About/FAQ”.

Trails Overview:

Park Drive -- shared by pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles (road closed to vehicles on weekends) -- loops around Central Park.  Be aware that some bicyclists ignore crosswalks, stoplights and speed limits. Stay alert. Outer Park Drive Loop is just over 6 miles.

A very helpful “Runners Map” identifies mileage segments along Park Drive, including trail section mileage to complete shorter loop hikes.

  • For instance it is possible to enter the park from E.72nd to hike south along Park Drive approaching Central Park West (59th street), then north approaching W.72nd (1.41 miles), and complete the loop by using a pathway to cross back over to E.72nd (0.31 mile).    

Within the park boundaries are numerous networks of pathways for pedestrians only – on a trail map it looks like a vast circulatory system.  Notable hikes include looping around the Reservoir (1.58 miles) or the Great Lawn (0.55 mile) just west of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Central Park Conservancy has prepared a number of guided and self-guided walking tours.   Of special interest to hikers might be two Woodland Self-Guided tours featuring The Ramble and North Woods.  Each requires about 30 minutes.   From the Conservancy web site:

  • “The Ramble is one of the most intricate and detailed landscapes in Central Park. This woodland, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, was intended to give visitors a taste of the Adirondacks without leaving New York”
  • “At 40 acres, the North Woods is the largest of the three woodlands in Central Park. The Ravine is a lowland landscape in the North Woods that features a small stream, dramatic cascades, and a variety of plants native to the northeastern United States.”

The Hallett Nature Sanctuary, a fenced off four-acre preserve, is the third woodlands in the park.  As an experiment started in 1938 to see what happens when nature was left to itself, the preserve was closed to the public for 80 years – invasive plants took over (which have since been removed).  Except for guided tours, the preserve is open only one day a month for drop-in visitors.  It will take planning to visit the site; the pathway is only 0.2 mile.

To experience another recent example of exceptional urban landscape architecture in New York City visit the High Line, a linear park on an elevated railroad bed thirty feet above street level.

 

Directions:

Numerous subway lines provide access to Central Park, principally the “B” & “C” along Central Park West.  Click on the Web Map near the top of this page for more details. Click for a map of the New York City Subway system

If you drive you are on your own to find parking.

Contact Information:Central Park Conservancy
2127720288
Region:New York City
Fees: