As the summer solstice approaches, the long, warm days that pass are ideal for runners of all kinds. For those who live or work in Manhattan, however, finding a running course free of traffic, stoplights, and construction can be quite a challenge. Here are a few routes that will keep your legs moving and allow you to explore some of the most pleasant parts of the island:
East River Promenade—2 miles This short East River Park route is perfect for an easy cool evening run as the sun sets in the west. Begin in the southern half of the park by Grand Street and head north on the East River Bikeway.
Follow the bikeway until you reach the north corner of the park, and turn around onto the East River Promenade, which provides an excellent view of the Williamsburg Bridge and a section of Brooklyn's waterfront. Continue running until the end of the promenade, which will wrap around and bring you back to Grand Street.
Central Park Reservoir—3.5 miles This is a great route in the heart of Manhattan, and is best enjoyed during weekdays and early mornings, as it is often crowded with visitors and sightseers later in the day. Several hills along the route make it a good challenge for various paces and fitness levels.
Begin at the top of the park and enter at 110th Street and Malcom X Boulevard. Head west on the road, which will take you on your first uphill and around a bend in the northwest section of the park. Coming down from the hill, you will find a dirt path along the east side of the paved road, which will take you to the reservoir.
Follow the path along the reservoir to the east side of the park, where you will see the Guggenheim and Cooper Hewitt National Design Museums on your right. Exit the reservoir path near the 97th Street Transverse Road and continue onto East Drive. Follow East Drive as it winds through the northeast section of the park and loops you back to 110th Street and Malcom X Boulevard.
West Side and Battery Park—5.4 miles This run takes you along the Hudson River past some of New York City's most popular tourist sights. Begin at Dewitt Clinton Park at W. 53rd Street and head south on the West Side Greenway bike path for about three and a half miles, passing the USS Intrepid and Chelsea Piers.
Take a right at Chambers Street for a short break from the bike path and cut towards Vesey Green on the River Terrace. Turn left at the end of the Terrace and find your way back to the Greenway bike path. Continue on south until you hit Battery Place, near the Skyscraper Museum, and enter onto the Battery Park pathway. Follow the pathway as it curves along the river, passing the Castle Clinton National Monument and providing stunningly clear views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Take your first left through the park shortly after passing the Circle Line/Statue of Liberty dock, and exit the park at Bridge Street. End at the Museum of the American Indian on Bridge Street.
Riverside Park and Cherry Walk—6 miles Running in Manhattan on hot summer days may be most comfortable through Riverside Park. The park's verdant elm trees and waterfront location provide shade and cool breezes when the rest of the island feels stagnant and humid. Start running south from Riverside Church, at the corner of 122nd Street and Riverside Drive.
Enter the park down a stairway at 120th Street and Riverside Drive and continue through the park's short wilderness trail, which offers a pleasant and surprisingly quiet break from the bustling city streets. The trail exits smoothly onto a well-worn pathway in the grassy median of the park. Follow this path for a little over two miles until you reach the south end of the park at 72nd street. Exit the park towards the river and make a U-turn onto the Hudson River Greenway.
Running north along the water, you'll have a unobstructed view of the George Washington Bridge and the many boats that glide through the river. You'll reach Cherry Walk, a beautiful cherry tree lined path along river, at around 103rd Street. Follow Cherry Walk until it ends at St. Clair Place, and loop back around onto Riverside Drive after running under the Henry Hudson Parkway bridge. Run for a few more blocks, past General Grant National Memorial, until you are back at Riverside Church.