Monday, 13 January 2014

New York Riverside Park Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 11.3 km (7 miles), terrain: flat, with small hillside along river
NOTE: You can shorten this route by just turning around along the Greenway any time you like.

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks! 

New York Running Routes:
Best New York Running Routes: Overview
Downtown  
Greenwich Village  
Midtown and Central Park

Riverside Park 
For other running routes, see Route List

Here's a great riverfront run along the Hudson, along the upper west side of Manhattan. Riverside Park lines an 80-block-long section of the Hudson, and provides a great, uninterrupted waterfront trail, plus a collection of other parallel paths winding through its lawns, sports fields and trees. We'll just follow the lower, 60-block section, between 72nd Street and 129th, but you could continue up to the George Washington Bridge and beyond, further north.

There's something great about having a free horizon off across the river, an experience you don't find elsewhere inland on Manhattan.
View of Greenway and park from boat basin, photo by xymox
The park is bounded by the Hudson to the west and Riverside Drive along its eastern edge. As with most urban green areas, this one is not pure nature. A loud freeway, the Henry Hudson Parkway runs straight down through the park. There is also a railroad, but that is covered and nicely hidden beneath the park.

This run will follow the river shoreline going north, and return inland via Columbia University and the park landscape. So, does this route sound like something for you? Then let's get a move on!
Sunday afternoon in Riverside Park, photo by WilliamNYC
The Riverside Park Route
We'll start at the subway station at 72nd Street and Broadway (the 1-, 2- and 3-Lines all stop there, so it's easy to get to). Now turn to the west and run the 3 blocks to Riverside Park, past the dog-run area and under the Henry Hudson Parkway, downhill to the water's edge.

You now turn right and head north for about 4.5 kilometers. We are now on the Greenway, a combined bike/pedestrian trail that circles most of Manhattan. It's mainly a bike trail: there are only narrow pedestrian shoulders in some spots, so you'll have to see how you like it. But the great view over the Hudson River makes it a great run, in my opinion.

You'll soon come to a marina, the 79th Street Boat Basin, with a waterfront restaurant.

Soon afterwards, the freeway meanders close to the water and becomes louder for a half-kilometer. Then, at about 100th Street, it comes back to the waterside, and you run next to the freeway most of the way to the north end of the run. Luckily, the road is situated higher up the hillside, so you don't really see it, except for one new section of the Greenway, which was raised up to street level, around 86th Street.
Greenway: View south from new section, photo by lgh7

Beginning at about 100th Street, the trail has the name "Cherry Walk," named after the 2,000 cherry trees planted here by New York's Japanese community. Also at 100th Street is the last tunnel beneath the freeway. There is no other way towards the east until you reach 129th Street, the turn-around point of this run. There are other tunnels further south, at 79th Street, 83rd Street and 93rd Street.
Along the Cherry Walk, photo by rbs10025
At the northernmost point of the waterside trail, just before you get to the piers ahead, turn right onto 129th Street and run under the freeway- and railroad-bridges. Then turn right onto the sidewalk going up the hill below the metal bridge for Riverside Drive.

Now run south along Riverside Drive for a half-kilometer until you come to a rectangular, columned pavilion, where you turn left and run past the front of the big white monument, the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant, who was the commander of the Union Army during the Civil War, and later U.S. President.
Grant's Tomb, photo by Grey Barklay
At the monument, face east and cross the other part of Riverside Drive and run through the south end of Sakura Park, with the imposing Riverside Church right next to it.

Continue eastwards along 122nd Street for one block, to Broadway. Now turn right to run south past some Columbia University buildings to 120th Street.

Here, you turn left and run to the middle of the block, where you will see an iron gate on the right side, leading into the university's main campus. Run through the gate and take the stairs to either side of the white-stone building to run around it.
The Columbia campus, photo by David Molloy
You will now run south past the impressive libraries, running down the steps and through the South Lawn until you exit the campus at 114th Street. What can I say: I love college campuses!

Now turn right and head west the two blocks to Riverside Park. You can now turn left onto any of the parallel paths that you please, heading south towards the starting point. This is the green part of the run, with tree-lined paths and sports fields for the rest of the way.
Riverside Park walkways, photo by Shawn Hoke
At 96th Street and 79th Street you'll have to cross freeway exits, but the rest is pleasant parkland. At 89th Street, you'll pass the Civil War veterans memorial.

When you get back to 72nd Street, turn left and head uphill back to the subway station. Now that was New York at its best!

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