By Marnie Kunz
If you’re looking for a Central Park running map, I am sharing my maps of the best Central Park running routes. As a New York runner, I’ve enjoyed many races and training runs in the park. Central Park is the main running hub in New York City, offering stunning Manhattan skyline views as well as beautiful natural scenes, and a lively racing and running community.
Running Central Park - Iconic Views and Endless Options
Central Park is the most famous place to run in NYC, and for good reason - the park offers iconic NYC views and varied runs, with options for different running surfaces, distances, and challenge levels. The main paved loop circles the park for a scenic 6.1 miles (almost 10K), and the Central Park Reservoir features great city views and a soft, flat running surface along the 1.58-mile loop around the reservoir. The Central Park Bridle Path has more running options off the beaten path, with a winding trail for 2.5 miles.
You can also mix and match your running routes in Central Park, with trail options that cut through the main loop and bridle paths, as well as ways to tack on more miles to your run. Whether you’re a beginning runner or a seasoned marathoner, you can enjoy scenic running in Central Park.
Central Park Running Map 1: Main Loop
The main running route in Central Park is the most popular option for runners, cyclists, and walkers. The paved loop is 6.1 miles (9.8 km) and includes a few transverse paths that cut across the loop for a shorter run if you’d like to do less miles.
I have created this Central Park running map that you can favorite and pull up on Google Maps to use when you run in the park. If you’re running the main loop, the good news is it’s easy to follow, as you will probably have hundreds of fellow people running, walking, and cycling on the loop with you. And since it’s a large, paved circular loop, if you just keep running, you will end up wherever you started on the loop.
For a convenient jump-on point on this Central Park running map, I recommend beginning your loop at Columbus Circle, coming from the southwest side of the park, at West 59th Street and Columbus Circle. Most people run the loop in a clockwise direction, which is my recommendation for the easiest option for yourself and others.
The Central Park loop is a popular running route, and it is also one of the most high-traffic biking areas in the city. When you run, it’s important to stay to the left side of the pedestrian path, away from the bikes which will be zooming by on your right. For more safety tips and general rules for running in Central Park, check out my tips for running Central Park.
Running Route 2: Central Park Reservoir Track
The Central Park Reservoir running loop is a great option for iconic city views and a shorter, flat running route in Central Park. This Central Park running route is 1.58 miles to complete one loop of the reservoir. Some of my favorite NYC skyline views are from the reservoir running path. With the break in the sky above the water, you can see the magnificent Manhattan skyline against the natural beauty of the water and park as a backdrop. The reservoir path is great for beginners and anyone who wants to catch iconic views of the city. If you’d like to add more miles to your run, you can run the loop multiple times or hop onto the nearby bridle path or main loop for more miles.
You can access the Central Park Reservoir running path from the east or west side of the park. The reservoir is located just above the 86th Street Transverse and below 97th Street Transverse in Central Park. If you’re coming from the Upper East Side, you can hop on the reservoir path from East 90th Street and East Drive, and if you’re coming from the Upper West Side, take the 86th Street Transverse west to West Drive, which is right next to the path to the reservoir, which will be on your left.
Running Route 3: Bridle Path
The Central Park Bridle Path is personally my favorite running trail in Central Park. If you want a break from the concrete and crowds on the main loop, you can go off the beaten path and enjoy the trails of the bridle path. The path is made of crushed gravel and dirt and offers a softer running surface than the main loop. The bridle path - named because it has been used for horses to navigate through Central Park, is winding and has different route options. One loop of the bridle path circles the Central Park Reservoir just outside of the reservoir running track loop. You can also head north along the bridle path going above the reservoir up to the North Meadow fields and across the 102nd Street Transverse for a total loop of 2.5 miles.
If you want to add more miles to your bridle path run in Central Park, hop on the main loop to head farther south and see the midtown Manhattan skyline. Another option is to do a few loops on the Central Park Reservoir running path to get in more scenic, flat miles on a softer surface than the main loop.
How to Run in Central Park
As you can see, there are many options for running routes in Central Park. When you run in the park, here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your workout:
Stay out of the bike lane when running. Bikes tend to zoom around the park and they have hit runners and walkers so always look both ways before crossing the bike lane. When you’re running, stay to the left on the main loop, with the bikes to your right.
Pay attention to your surroundings. As with any city, it’s important to know what’s going on around you when you’re running. If you listen to music, keep it low enough so that you can hear loud noises around you such as horns, bells, or yelling.
Let someone know where you’re running. You can use a running safety app or a safety feature like Strava Beacon to allow a trusted contact to track you while you run. The apps share your GPS location in real time. In case an emergency arises, it will be much easier to locate you.
Check out my tips for running Central Park and the Central Park Conservancy Running Guide for more insights to help you navigate the park and find the best running spots.
Have you run in Central Park? Get more training and fitness tips on my Runstreet Youtube and tag @Runstreet on Instagram to share your workouts and get cheered on. Happy running to you, Wolf Pack, and enjoy the park!😊
Related Posts: Tips for Running Central Park, Running Safety Tips, Top NYC Marathon Tips for Runners and Spectators, Where to Run in Brooklyn: A Local’s Guide
Marnie Kunz is a NASM-certified personal trainer, USATF and RRCA-certified running coach, and the creator of Runstreet Art Runs, which bring together communities through running and street art. She is a Brooklyn resident, trainer, Akita mom, and writer. She enjoys running coaching, traveling, art, and eating messily. You can follow her running and training on @Runstreet Instagram.
nyc, nyc running, manhattan