About New York City
New York City is home to a vibrant running scene. New York Road Runners is the epicenter of the running world and clubs abound. During popular times of day, local parks become quite clogged with runners, walkers and bikers. If you are stuck in the city, Central Park, Prospect Park, Riverside Park, Rockaway Beach and the Hudson River Greenway are the best-paved routes. I prefer the Hudson River Greenway, which traverses about 14 miles along the vast Hudson River. A point-to-point run across the length of Manhattan, from Inwood to the Battery, should be on everyone’s running bucket list. The subway makes it simple to get to and from any of these locations. The best coffee shop in New York City is easily the Hungarian Pastry Shop; it is reasonably near Riverside Park and Central Park and in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. But, remember: it’s cash only.
Do not fear running through all four seasons of the northeast. A light, warm jacket, crampons and beanie will likely get you through most snow- and ice-covered trails. For the humid summers, a hydration pack and electrolytes are usually enough for the heat. All of the below runs are available via public transportation: the subway, Metro North or New Jersey Transit. Wonderfully, in the larger New York region, public trains and buses abound.
Van Cortlandt Park
There are a shocking number of ways to hit the trail around New York City. For Van Cortlandt Park, you don’t even need to leave the five boroughs. Van Cortlandt Park is in the Bronx; the last stop on the 1 train drops you at its doorstep. Miles of trails criss-cross the park and around the golf course. Van Cortlandt is actually the cross-country meet location of choice for many New York City schools, so be sure to avoid race days. On your first visit, stop by the Van Cortlandt House Museum to get a taste of the history of Van Cortlandt. Most importantly, runners must stop by Lloyd’s Carrot Cake on their way back to the 1 train. The cake is quite literally world-famous and the shop is locally owned.
Old Croton Aqueduct Trail
The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail runs 26.2 miles from Van Cortlandt Park to Croton Gorge Park. It alternates between paved and dirt surfaces and rests above the Old Croton Aqueduct, which long provided New York City’s drinking water. The route passes many historic sites, including Lyndhurst Mansion and the Armour-Stiner Octagon House. At the trail’s northern terminus, you can check out the New Croton Dam and Croton Gorge Waterfalls and continue your adventure via the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway. South of Van Cortlandt Park, runners can follow the path of the Old Croton Aqueduct to the New York Public Library in Midtown, Manhattan. To do this, you’ll need to know the route, as city streets do not exactly have trail markers. My favorite town along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is Tarrytown, home to Coffee Labs Roasters. This toasty, adorable coffee shop fits perfectly within the quaint and historic Hudson Valley.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
The Rockefeller State Park Preserve can be reached off of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Sleepy Hollow. The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is home to a series of carriage roads once used by the Rockefeller family. Its trail network connects to a series of surrounding parks. The preserve also connects to the Stone Barnes Center for Food & Agriculture, where visitors can peruse gardens and watch pigs, chickens and cows. If you have a large wallet or are up for a treat, make a reservation at the renowned Blue Hill restaurant, which boasts two Michelin stars.
Palisades Interstate Park
The Palisades Interstate Park is accessible from Manhattan just across the George Washington Bridge. While the run across the bridge is by no means a trail, it offers sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. The bridge is also popular with bicyclists, so beware of the inevitable bell-ringing. Just across the Hudson River, miles of trails grace both the ridge and water of the Palisades. The Palisades have an impressive ecological history, as they represent part of where Pangaea separated 200 million years ago. Just north of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 9W Market offers a great atmosphere to rest up before heading back to the city.
Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park is accessible via New Jersey Transit from Penn Station. Harriman is home to a section of the Appalachian Trail, so from there you could trek your way to Georgia or Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Endless smaller loops are also available. Views of the city skyline are aweing and the lights from planes at night litter the sky. If you’re looking for a quick weekend backpacking trip, Harriman is surely the place to be. There is an active black bear population, so campers must be responsible with food and other scented items. Harriman connects to a series of state parks, including the popular Bear Mountain. Check out Dottie Audrey’s before heading back to the city.
The above is just a taste of what New York City’s trail running has to offer and the availability of public transportation makes the opportunities endless. If you have a car and are looking for a weekend getaway, the Catskills and Adirondacks are not far. If you prefer to stay closer to home, Westchester County is home to a myriad of parks and trails, many of which are interconnected. Somehow, all of this is available within miles of Manhattan.
I usually have a yearly work trip to New York City and I’ve only run Central Park. I look forward to checking out some of the places you mentioned, particularly Harriman State Park.