New York City, NY: Hudson River Park to Central Park

Hit up some of Manhattan's best outdoor and urban highlights on this 7.6-mile hike that features views of the Statue of Liberty and a scenic spin through Central Park.
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Hit up some of Manhattan's best outdoor and urban highlights on this 7.6-mile hike that features views of the Statue of Liberty and a scenic spin through Central Park.

Hiking park-to-park in the Big Apple is not for solitude seekers. But what's a little trail sharing between a few million friends? On this 7.6-mile trek, you'll wander skyscraper canyons and ford rivers of people. From the Hudson River Park, the route tracks north to the brand-new High Line, a restored railway that winds over the Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
Past the High Line, stroll east to Madison Square Park, where you'll find public art installations and the Shake Shack (sample the ShackBurger and Concrete Jungle). From here, follow 5th Avenue north through a corridor of towering skyscrapers to Central Park's Ramble—a 38-acre woodland, with 270 bird and 26 butterfly species. Record your bird sightings in the Bird Register at the Loeb Boathouse (south of the Ramble), then grab a refreshment and watch the rowboats and gondolas that ferry across The Lake.
-Mapped by Evelyn Spence

PLAN IT

GUIDEBOOK AND MAP: The Complete Illustrated Map and Guidebook to Central Park, by Richard J. Berenson and Raymond Carroll

CONDITIONS: For current conditions, go to New York, NY (10023) Weather

INFO:
Hudson River Park, hudsonriverpark.org
High Line, thehighline.org
Madison Square Park, madisonsquarepark.org
Central Park, centralpark.com

OTHER RESOURCES

GEAR
Eastern Mountain Sports
530 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-8730
ems.com

GROCERIES
Whole Foods Market - Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9600
wholefoodsmarket.com

RESTAURANTS
Shake Shack
Corner of Madison Ave. and E. 23rd St.
New York City, NY
(212) 889-6600
http://www.shakeshack.com

Loeb Boathouse
Near the center of Central Park, just a short walk from Fifth Ave. and 72nd St.
(212) 517-2233
thecentralparkboathouse.com

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 12.2

Waypoints

NYC001

Location: 40.72254, -74.012178

Start near the intersection of Laight Street and the West Side Highway and meander along the Tribeca Boardwalk (893 feet of wooden planks). You'll walk past black-eyed Susans and waist-high grass.

NYC002

Location: 40.724406, -74.011898

Leave the boardwalk and merge onto the walkway that traces the edge of the Hudson River.

NYC003

Location: 40.724845, -74.011863

Peer through the free telescopes to get a closer glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, then check out the heron sculptures on the pile fields that jut out into the river (you may spot real herons, too).

NYC004

Location: 40.733045, -74.010912

Turn left and walk to the end of Pier 45, a hotspot for summer sunbathing and free concerts. Groups of white canvas canopies line the pier.

NYC005

Location: 40.733182, -74.013991

At the end of the pier, look south (left) down the Hudson for views of the Statue of Liberty. Look back over your shoulder for a riverside view of the Empire State Building and the rest of the Manhattan skyline.

NYC006

Location: 40.733661, -74.010679

Designed by Stephen Weiss, the late husband of Donna Karan, this ginormous bronze fruit gives New York's nickname a whole new meaning: It's 9 feet tall and weighs three tons.

NYC007

Location: 40.738502, -74.010357

After passing the tennis courts and playground, turn right and cross the West Side Highway. Turn left on the walking path that parallels Horatio Street.

NYC008

Location: 40.738773, -74.008125

Turn left on Washington.

NYC009

Location: 40.739468, -74.008077

At the intersection of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, climb the stairs to the High Line. Opened (to much hype) in 2009, the first section of this abandoned elevated railway has been transformed into a park on stilts, with 161 different native plant species.

NYC010

Location: 40.740785, -74.008054

The Standard Hotel stands on enormous concrete piers and is shaped like an open book of glass. The hotel straddles the High Line and is one of the buzziest new buildings in town.

NYC011

Location: 40.742185, -74.007736

Sundeck: Relax and take a breather on the recliners, some of which are mounted on real train wheels.

NYC012

Location: 40.742811, -74.00753

Stop to look at "The River That Flows Both Ways". To create these glass panels, artist Spencer Finch photographed the Hudson 700 times from the deck of a boat, then crafted each colored pane to match.

NYC013

Location: 40.743924, -74.006945

Where 10th Ave crosses 17th Street, you can sit on the steps for views of Midtown. Look down to see the traffic pouring underneath you.

NYC014

Location: 40.745981, -74.006071

For now, the High Line ends at 20th Street. Descend the stairs to street level.

NYC015

Location: 40.74581, -74.005709

Turn left on 10th Avenue.

NYC016

Location: 40.746312, -74.005022

Hang a right on 21st Street.

NYC017

Location: 40.742811, -73.996723

Turn left on 7th Avenue.

NYC018

Location: 40.743423, -73.996267

Turn right on 22nd Street.

NYC019

Location: 40.742227, -73.993446

Turn left on 6th Avenue.

NYC020

Location: 40.742839, -73.992987

Turn right on 23rd Street.

NYC021

Location: 40.741612, -73.988328

Stop at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park to sample the ShackBurger, arguably the best burger in a city of great burgers. Wash it down with a Concrete Jungle (dense vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas, and peanut butter).

NYC022

Location: 40.742234, -73.988392

Madison Square Park is also home to rotating public art installations. Recent featured artists include Roxy Paine, Sol LeWitt, and Mark di Suvero.

NYC023

Location: 40.747919, -73.984798

Walk past the Empire State Building, the biggest and most famous building in the city.

NYC024

Location: 40.752195, -73.981698

Pass the New York Public Library at 39th and 5th.

NYC025

Location: 40.75332, -73.983827

Located off the backside of the Beaux-Arts New York Public Library, this green square is Midtown's little oasis. Need a navigational challenge? Find the bust of Goethe.

NYC026

Location: 40.758352, -73.977564

Walk past Rockefeller Center.

NYC027

Location: 40.765396, -73.973147

Doris Freedman Plaza: Because of Freedman, a former director of cultural affairs for NYC, all civic construction projects have to spend a portion of their budgets on art. The upshot? There's always a work on display here.

NYC028

Location: 40.766973, -73.973705

The Gapstow Bridge resembles the Ponte di San Francesco in San Remo, Italy and it has views of the ice skating rink and the Plaza Hotel.

NYC029

Location: 40.769086, -73.973844

The Dairy: Stop at this Victorian Gothic building, which used to supply safe, fresh milk for families during cholera outbreaks in the late 19th century, for maps and info.

NYC030

Location: 40.770032, -73.972621

The Mall: Designed by Vaux and Olmsted, this grand promenade is 40 feet wide and flanked by American elms.

NYC031

Location: 40.773904, -73.971173

Bethesda Terrace: Split-level, with grand staircases and views of The Lake, this is a great spot for watching buskers, breakdancers, and fellow New Yorkers.

NYC032

Location: 40.77574, -73.971747

Bow Bridge: Sixty feet long, cast iron, and one of the most famous spots in New York. It leads into the 38-acre Ramble.

NYC033

Location: 40.77691, -73.971017

Walk past a small picnic area in the Ramble, the quietest and most forested corner of the park.

NYC034

Location: 40.777426, -73.970819

Cross a wood bridge over the Gill, a tiny stream in the Ramble.

NYC035

Location: 40.778242, -73.971215

Hidden in dense foliage, the 5-foot-wide Ramble Arch is the smallest in the park.

NYC036

Location: 40.778815, -73.971747

Walk across the Bank Rock Bridge, a footbridge crossing a narrow arm of The Lake and Bank Rock Bay.

NYC037

Location: 40.779445, -73.969043

Belvedere Castle: Sitting on Vista Rock (the second-highest natural elevation in the park), Belvedere overlooks the 55-acre expanse of the Great Lawn.

NYC038

Location: 40.778332, -73.969579

Tupelo Meadow is one of the biggest open spaces in the Ramble, a great place for spotting one of the park's 230 species of bird.

NYC039

Location: 40.777275, -73.969252

The path passes a little pool along the Gill, a steamlet that meanders through the Ramble.

NYC040

Location: 40.774899, -73.970513

The Point: Watch hooded mergansers and bufflehead ducks ferry around The Lake from this narrow spit of land.

NYC041

Location: 40.775484, -73.969343

Recline on this sunny rock and watch people rowing boats on The Lake.

NYC042

Location: 40.775992, -73.968501

Leave the Ramble and walk south.

NYC043

Location: 40.775199, -73.968474

Loeb Boathouse: Record your bird sightings in the Bird Register, then grab a refreshment and watch the rowboats and gondolas.