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
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
Hudson River Park, hudsonriverpark.org
High Line, thehighline.org
Madison Square Park, madisonsquarepark.org
Central Park, centralpark.com
Eastern Mountain Sports
New York, NY 10012
Whole Foods Market – Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Corner of Madison Ave. and E. 23rd St.
New York City, NY
Near the center of Central Park, just a short walk from Fifth Ave. and 72nd St.
- Distance: 12.2
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.
Location: 40.724406, -74.011898
Leave the boardwalk and merge onto the walkway that traces the edge of the Hudson River.
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).
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 40.738773, -74.008125
Turn left on Washington.
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.
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.
Location: 40.742185, -74.007736
Sundeck: Relax and take a breather on the recliners, some of which are mounted on real train wheels.
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.
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.
Location: 40.745981, -74.006071
For now, the High Line ends at 20th Street. Descend the stairs to street level.
Location: 40.74581, -74.005709
Turn left on 10th Avenue.
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Hang a right on 21st Street.
Location: 40.742811, -73.996723
Turn left on 7th Avenue.
Location: 40.743423, -73.996267
Turn right on 22nd Street.
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Turn left on 6th Avenue.
Location: 40.742839, -73.992987
Turn right on 23rd Street.
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).
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.
Location: 40.747919, -73.984798
Walk past the Empire State Building, the biggest and most famous building in the city.
Location: 40.752195, -73.981698
Pass the New York Public Library at 39th and 5th.
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.
Location: 40.758352, -73.977564
Walk past Rockefeller Center.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 40.770032, -73.972621
The Mall: Designed by Vaux and Olmsted, this grand promenade is 40 feet wide and flanked by American elms.
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.
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.
Location: 40.77691, -73.971017
Walk past a small picnic area in the Ramble, the quietest and most forested corner of the park.
Location: 40.777426, -73.970819
Cross a wood bridge over the Gill, a tiny stream in the Ramble.
Location: 40.778242, -73.971215
Hidden in dense foliage, the 5-foot-wide Ramble Arch is the smallest in the park.
Location: 40.778815, -73.971747
Walk across the Bank Rock Bridge, a footbridge crossing a narrow arm of The Lake and Bank Rock Bay.
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.
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.
Location: 40.777275, -73.969252
The path passes a little pool along the Gill, a steamlet that meanders through the Ramble.
Location: 40.774899, -73.970513
The Point: Watch hooded mergansers and bufflehead ducks ferry around The Lake from this narrow spit of land.
Location: 40.775484, -73.969343
Recline on this sunny rock and watch people rowing boats on The Lake.
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Leave the Ramble and walk south.
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.