o those of us Central Park-centric runners, the Bronx is up, the Battery’s down, and Riverdale is up and down. Why should you venture across a bridge to the only borough of NYC connected to the mainland U.S.A.?

Hills — Great Training

Hills. Rolling hills. Steep hills. Hills on roads. Hills in the woods. Outdoor flights of stairs. Cross-country trails. Real trails. Head up there and explore and you’re likely to get a good hill workout just by wandering. Warm up by crossing the Broadway Bridge across the Harlem River Ship Canal (or let the #1 subway take you across), which has a very interesting history. Take the western sidewalk — the bodega on the northwest corner under the stairs to the subway is a good stop for a cold drink or snack in case you’ve run all the way up from Central Park.

Explore the streets of Marble Hill, technically part of Manhattan though connected to the Bronx, or parallel Broadway on more pleasant streets to get up to Van Cortlandt Park. Or head west and wander through the fancy parts of Riverdale to Wave Hill.

Races — Great Variety

Our friends in the Van Cortlandt Track Club work very hard to put on the annual rite of spring Urban Environmental Challenge on VC trails, the Riverdale Ramble 10k road race, and the great Thursday night summer 5k X-C series, for which see the companion article in this blog: . And for exploring lesser known wooded parks, see Riverdale Park and Raoul Wallenberg Forest

Aesthetics — Great (and small) Places

Cute little parks, mansions with landscaping to rival the botanical gardens in springtime, the views of the Palisades from the wooden chairs at Wave Hill and a huge column surmounted by a statue of Henry Hudson — or, if you believe some locals we asked, Christopher Columbus. (Hmmm, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Half Moon?!)

For food and drink: Irish music and a well-earned Guinness. For excellent Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, which you can buy at their store at 6087 Broadway, across from the Tortoise & Hare statue in VC Park, in case you don’t win one of their muffins at a VCTC race.

And then what could be more authentic then hopping the #1 train heading south?

A Few Routes

Note: These routes are meant to be combined into larger routes and loops. The first two routes are usually done together.

Marble Hill to Riverdale Park — about 2.5 miles

The route starts at 225th Street and Broadway, on the Bronx side of the Broadway bridge, underneath the 225th Street subway stop.

  • After crossing the Broadway Bridge, go left on 225th Street for 1 block.
  • Go right on Marble Hill Avenue and stay on it as it bends to the left, and then back to the right.
  • Go left on 230th Street and go all the way to Irvin Avenue.
  • Go left on Irvin, which becomes Johnson and go up the long hill.
  • On the way down the far side of the Johnson Avenue hill, approach the Henry Hudson Bridge far overhead.
  • Optional loop: take a sharp left on Edsall Avenue down to the Spuyten Duyval RR station. It circles back to Johnson.
  • Continue on Johnson, which becomes Palisade Avenue at the bridge.
  • Stay on Palisade down and to the right. After about 1/2 mile you will get to 232nd Street with Riverdale Park on the left.

Here's a map of the previous route combined with the next: Marble Hill to Wave Hill

Riverdale Park to Wave Hill — about 3 miles

The route starts at the south end of Riverdale Park, on Palisade Avenue and 232nd Street, where the previous route ends.

  • Enter Riverdale Park at the opening in the fence.
  • Stay on the main trail and head north. Eventually you'll get to a street with a few houses.
  • Go right up the hill to Palisade Avenue; go left and pass by the houses, then reenter the park at the opening in the fence.
  • After about a mile, the trail will come out onto Palisade Avenue and Spaulding Lane will head up to the right. Palisade Avenue will disappear here.
  • Choice 1 (the long way):
    • Get back on the trail and continue through the park to 254th Street, about another half mile.
    • Continue across 254th Street onto Palisade Avenue.
    • Continue of Palisade all the way to the end at 261st Street, about 3/4 mile.
    • Turn around and return to 254th Street.
    • Turn up on 254th Street (very steep) 1 block to Sycamore.
    • Go along Sycamore as far as you can go, turning left up the hill at the end.
    • Go right on Independence Avenue for a few blocks to Wave Hill — it's free before noon on Saturdays.
  • Choice 2 (the short way):
    • Go right on Spaulding up the hill (steep).
    • Go left on Independence up the hill to Wave Hill on the left — it's free before noon on Saturdays

Old Putnam Line and Old Croton Aqueduct Loop — about 6 miles

The route starts at the south end of VanCortlandt Park on Broadway, a couple of blocks north of the 242nd Street subway stop.

  • Enter the park and head past the old mansion. Bathrooms are available at the nature center.
  • Continue across the south end of the field on the track. Enter the woods at the path where the track turns left.
  • Go down the path through the woods about 20 yards to the old Putnam Line — a straight dirt path which was formerly a rail line.
  • Go north on the path. After about 1.5 miles, you will enter Weschester County where the path is paved and is known as the South County Rail Trail.
  • Continue north to Tibbets Brook Park, a paved path to the right just after a bridge.
  • Go north on the park road to the bridge over the brook, just before the last lake.
  • Circle around the lake and head up the hill on the walkway, going under an underpass, to the Old Croton Aqueduct, a level straight dirt path. This is the original aqueduct from Croton to New York City completed in 1848.
  • Head south on the aqueduct about 3 miles. The Aqueduct will disappear and you will find yourself on a rough paved path. This will drop down to the right and follow the Mosholu Parkway south, for about 1/4 mile and then head up to the left.
  • The rough path will end at the north sidewalk of the Major Deegan. Turn right and cross the overpass where the Deegan crosses over the Mosholu.
  • At the west end of the overpass, the sidewalk will disappear and an old stairway will be on the right. The top of the stairway is fenced off. Go around and down to the golf pathway below.
  • Circle around to the left (don't go under the Deegan) and follow the golf pathway to the Golf House.
  • Cross the road and head straight west on the path through an underpass, and continue along the south end of VanCortlandt Park, arriving back at Broadway at your starting point.
It's much easier than it sounds — here's a map of the route: Old Putnam Line — OCA loop