ometimes I just want to go somewhere. A favorite brunch spot, a beautiful park, or maybe the beach. And being a runner, I say to myself, "Hmm .. I wonder if I could run there?" Often times we think "I'm training for a marathon; my schedule says I gotta do 14 miles this weekend." That's called focusing on the milage. That's not me. I would more likely say "How can I run to that place, get 14 miles (more-or-less) of running in, find a nice place to eat, and have easy subway access to get home?"
That's what these "Runs to Beautiful Places" posts are all about. It's the destination that comes first, not getting there. Forget about your "life's journey" (and don't even think about your "life's destination"!) , this is about getting somewhere you want to be.
Fort Tryon Park is definitely one of those places. I've written many reports on these pages about going through this place to get somewhere else, but this time I'd like to talk about just getting there, spending time enjoying the beauty of the place and its setting, and perhaps taking in a visit to The Cloisters, one of the most unique and marvelous museums in the world.
So how do we get there? Let me count the ways ... well, in my many reports of long runs I counted four different ways to get there with varying distances — I know you haven't forgotten that factor — of between about 7+ and 9 miles. This is perfect for early marathon training. If you want to do more miles, tack on some at the beginning or throw in a park loop or two (see below). And if you're torn between one route and another, no problem, go part way on one route and the rest on another. For consistency they all start at Carl Schurz Park, but of course that's up to you. Start where ever you live and join your preferred route somewhere along the way.
A note on the photos: most of the photos were taken on visits we made in March of 2012 and in June of 2013. So you will notice some shots show spring foliage with fruit trees in bloom, and some show the dense foliage and the flowers of summer. There is also a December 2016 album which show that Winter is no obstacle to beauty.
like maps. I almost always put them in my reports, often using the USATF running route maps, or sometimes using my own custom maps. I've generated maps for hiking, for mountain climbing, for locating survey markers and lately for runs.
This one is a bit different in that it shows four different routes on the same map. They are color coded: red, blue, green and purple. They are described from west to east. Let's call them "the west side route", "the parks route", "the streets route" and "the South Bronx route".
Note: as if there were not enough confusion on the map, the part from Carl Schurz to Central Park is common to three routes ("west side", "the streets" and "the parks"), and the part that goes up to the north end of Central Park is common to two routes ("the streets" and "the parks"). The route colors sort of mush together on these sections, sorry.
Look at the map for a minute and you'll "get" it. They all start in Carl Schurz Park and the first 3 head over to Central Park before splitting apart and heading their own way. The 4th route heads up the river and over to the Bronx for a bit before returning back to Manhattan. I've marked most of the parks and other interesting points of interest. Although we are focusing on the destination here, we should, of course, observe and enjoy the places we are running through.
Mileage: the mileage listed is apoproximate. Use your Garmin or iPhone if you need to know it to .1 miles. For the first three routes, if you want extra mileage, I suggest adding one of more reservoir loops (on the bridle path) which is 1.7 miles per loop, or one or more inner loops of the park roads at 4 miles each.
Details: the report links included for each run have detailed directions. These can be quite valuable since the directions here are cursory (remember, this is about the destination, not the journey ).
ow for the best part! Fort Tryon Park is one of the gems of Manhattan or for that matter, of the whole of New York City. The Park comprises 66.6 acres and sits atop some of the highest public land in Manhattan, providing views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.
In 1917, John D. Rockefeller purchased the land and hired Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to design a manicured landscape to preserve the valuable views as a city park for all to enjoy. The modern Fort Tryon Park opened in 1935, after years of transformation and is the only northern Manhattan park with a design similar to that of Riverside or Central Park. The Cloisters, a branch of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, opened within the park in 1938, and houses the museum’s medieval collection. Although the majority of the park remains true to its Olmstedian design, the slopes leading up to the park are largely naturally occurring second growth forest communities.
Go into the park and head along the walkway (not the road). This is the garden section and in the spring it's covered with heather and sedge and surrounded by fruit trees in bloom. When we got there one day last spring, we arrived just as they were doing the "trimming of the sedge", a once-a-year ritual attended by local school children. Who knew you had to trim sedge?
Next, head for the flag pole, which is on a promontory surrounded by a stone rampart with stairs up to the top. This point, one of the highest in Manhattan, has the most fantastic views in all of New York City. Unobstructed 360° views of the GWB, The Palisades, up towards Westchester, and east over much of the Bronx. If you visit this park, you must climb the steps to this point.
Keep heading north on the various pathways and you'll next see the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum. It's a treasure trove of medieval art and architecture. Coming off the flag pole pinnacle, there is an open lawn surrounded by mature trees. You can certainly see the hand of Olmstead in this area.
e've also been there in the Winter. Last December (2016) Susan S. and I ran up there on a very cold day. We followed the "Streets Route" from the Engineers' Gate in Central Park as outlined above with a few small variations (see the report here: ). I took no photos at all along the route — it was too cold — but I took a few inside the park and quite a few inside the cloisters. Notice the lack of foliage on the deciduous trees. But the brown and gold of the leaf litter and flower stalks have a special winter beauty of their own. The next photo album gives a really good sense of the grounds and what you'll see in this unique museum of medieval art.
Here's a few links on Fort Tryon Park: and .
he Cloisters really deserves a separate dedicated visit, since you could spend all day there. But we have occasionally made a visit in a tired, post-run state, and it's worth it. It's part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and even though it has a suggested entrance fee, it's technically under a pay-what-you-want policy, so you can pay a dollar if you're cheap. I'm a member so I'm good.
What's it all about? It's basically built with fragments of ruined medieval churches with authentic art and appointments. The rooms give you an idea of the original settings for the art. The most memorable thing to me is the series of large tapestries made around 1500 AD which tell the mysterious and symbolic story of "".
Visiting The Cloisters will certainly put you in a world far removed from 21st century New York City. And there is a beautiful interior garden which is a perfect place for silent contemplation. I hesitate to say where to go and what to look at. Both photo albums give a good sense of what you'll see, better than I could describe. What's that saying? "One picture is worth a thousand words." Especially true in this case.
Here's a good link giving some details: .
here are couple of favorites of mine both to the north (), and to the south (), but they are both a mile or more distant. I would suggest you give the your consideration. It's a little pricey, but to me it's a special treat commensurate with the beauty of the park. It's in the park, just south of the flag pole, down the slope to the east of the gardens. And maybe bring a change of clothes or a clean shirt in your pack. There is a bathroom in the basement of the restaurant, accessible from the road.
Across the street from the park entrance you can get an M4 or M98 bus, or take the elevator down to the A-Train. What's not to like about this place?