Two roads diverged in a park, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

— after Robert Frost

uestion: can you run from Central Park to the Bronx keeping exclusively to parks and avoiding city streets?
Answer: almost. Read on —

When I put this article together, I wondered what to call it. "Carl Schurz Park to Wave Hill" is rather bland and boring. Since the route goes through a number of city parks, in fact that is the core of the route, I thought "Park to Park to the Bronx" or "11 Parks to Wave Hill", but these were not too inspiring so I finally gave up and left it as is. But the point of going from park to park is central to this run and it deserves some emphasis. I have run from the Upper East Side to the Bronx with my running partner a number of times including not a few times to Wave Hill. We've taken a number of routes, but this time we made an effort to minimize travel on the city streets and to maximize travel through the parks along the way. I also didn't want to just run over to Riverside Park and all the way up, since we did that before (see ).

A glance at a Manhattan map, such as the one below, reveals a remarkable fact: many of the parks line up with each other and follow the street grid along the length of Manhattan in almost a straight line. This is not accidental — it's the geography (or the topography, to be more precise). Manhattan is built on a series of long, high rock cliffs and outcrops (called escarpments) which have survived the overlay of the street grid. In many cases the terrain was simple too steep and rocky for laying out streets and those areas became parks. In particular, Morningside, St. Nicholas, Jackie Robinson and High Bridge Parks are in fact all built along the same escarpment, or ridge line, and the gaps between them are generally only a few blocks long. In fact, of all the gaps where we had to run on the streets rather than the parks, only that between Carl Schurz Park and Central Park was longer than a few blocks. And not surprisingly, since Carl Schurz Park is a river front park and does not lay on an escarpment (in fact it lays upon the FDR Drive).

When we ran through these parks we had to chose whether to run along the top of the escarpment or along the lower section below. In some cases the choice was obvious, such as Morningside Park where most of the park is at the bottom and the top of the cliff was right next to the street. In another case, Jackie Robinson Park, there was no continuous path at the bottom so we had to run along the top on the sidewalk. For St. Nicholas, we've run along the top sometimes and in the middle other times depending on where we wanted to end up. The route as described is what we consider to be the best way to link everything together. If you get really interested, you can always go back and try another way.

We hope you will try some or all of this route. I believe you will enjoy the less crowded and often quite beautiful areas of these parks, many of which you may be unfamiliar with. We were surprised and delighted that, without exception, these lesser used parks are all clean and safe, although in some cases, parts are a bit overgrown — which, by the way, we consider a plus.

When to go: one last point: the route ends at Wave Hill, a beautiful area of gardens with 2 old mansions and striking Hudson River views. Normally there is a fee to enter the grounds, but on Saturdays it's free until noon, so that's when we've always gone. More than once I can recall running like hell the last half mile or so to make the noon deadline when we had not been careful about watching the time. Can you blame us, with all the beautiful sights along the way? So don't dawdle, or at least figure your dawdle time into your plan.

The Map

t the right is the map of the route — but just the Manhattan part — to which I've added The names of the parks. It's a little rough in places but it's meant to give you the "Big Picture", as it were. The directions given below in the text are good, so if there's a conflict with the map, use the directions. A group of Flyers, unbeknownst to me, actually did this route a few years back and got to Wave Hill without getting lost — so there! The map for the Bronx part of the route will be shown below.


or those who care about mileage (I'm sure that's not you ), the total distance is about 13 miles, with an alternate route in the Bronx which adds about another mile to that. The mileage is given at the beginning of the section for each park (cumulatively, from the start). These are approximate, but should be within about .1 miles of the true mileage.

Bail-out points

f you're not quite up to the full mileage yet, you could bail out at many points in Manhattan including along the A line which has stops near Morningside, St. Nicholas, Jackie Robinson and High Bridge Parks and on Dyckman Street between Inwood Hill and Fort Tryon Park. If you zoom the map in (use the "+" button at the upper left) you'll see these stations marked.

Water and Bathrooms

've run the whole thing without carrying water — almost all the parks have bathrooms and water fountains. But since the heat wave has hit, you should probably carry extra water just as a precaution.


ll the road sections are pretty safe and have lots of pedestrian traffic. The only dicey park is Inwood Hill, and I suggest you run that with a partner and never at night. But in daytime with a partner it should be fine. I've done it many times.

The Photos

ll the photos in this report were taken by me with my point-and-shoot camera while on the run (or sometimes stopping to get the best angle), so what you see here is what you'll get — I didn't make any of these gorgeous views up or steal them from the internet.

And another trick I use in my reports is to put a whole set of photos at each point in the report "behind" the photo you see. Just click on the photo and you'll see a slide show of the whole group for that section of the run. This way we save space and the text keeps moving along.

Getting started: Carl Schurz Park

arl Schurz Park is built at the foot of 86th Street, right where the East River makes a turn and opens out between Roosevelt Island, Wards Island, and the Queens shore across the way. It was a strategic spot in the Revolutionary War (called Horn's Hook) and was fortified first by the Americans and then by the British during their occupation of Manhattan. Gracie Mansion, which occupies the northern section of the park, was originally built in 1799 on the ruins of a previous house that was lost in the war, and has been used as the official residence for the mayor since the 1940s. The park itself dates from 1891 when the City of New York "demapped" the last block of 86th Street to create the park land. Until the 1930s, the park dropped down to the shore of the river, but in 1935 the East River Drive was put through, which cut off waterfront access for most of the East River, and the park was rebuilt on a platform over the highway as we see it today. See this for more details: .

One of the neatest sights is not in the park, but right in front of it — Blackwell's Island Light — which stands at the northern point of Roosevelt Island (formerly Welfare Island, formerly Blackwell's Island) literally a few hundred yards distant. Click on the picture to the left, and the lighthouse will appear (it's the third photo in the slide show). There's an interesting "legend" of who built it, but it was designed by James Renwick (architect of Saint Patrick's Cathedral) and completed in 1872. See this: , for more information.

You can reach the park from the Lex 86th Street stop, or from any east side bus. Just head east on 86th Street to the river. I suggest finding a Starbucks somewhere and make a bathroom stop before starting your run. There are two bathrooms in the park, but if you start real early in the morning, as we often do, they may not be open when you need them.

As for getting from here to Central park, the next destination, I'll leave that up to you. Interestingly, this traverse on the city streets from Carl Schurz Park to Central Park, is the longest stretch in Manhattan between parks.

Central Park: 1 mile

entral Park is one place that should be familiar to just about every one reading this account. But in keeping with the general philosophy of getting "off the beaten path" and to "take the road less traveled by", to quote Robert Frost, I will give a slightly off the beaten path route even for this, our home park.

Enter the park at the Engineers' Gate at 90th and Fifth. Instead of heading north on the park road, go in towards the reservoir and start up the bridle path. I always take the bridle path when ever I'm in the park since it's easier on the joints and usually has less traffic. Head north and turn west with the bridle path at the northeast corner of the reservoir, then turn sharply down to the right to get back next to the park road. Continue north past the ball fields till you are almost at the 102nd Street transverse (where the bridle path turns left towards the west), cross the road and head east on the path towards the compost pile. Turn right and then keep to the left as the path curves around and you will soon be at one of the loveliest spots in the Park, The Conservatory Garden. Most runners don't go through this gem in their loops, but I recommend doing it. Slow down a bit, check out the flowers and fountain. Smell the roses (sorry they're not in season right now.) There are also bathrooms and water fountains so take advantage of that.

Head out the exit on the north side of the Garden and head east and north around the lake (it's actually called "The Meer"). Pass by the activity center (bathrooms here also) and keep to the right. Get on the path that goes westward right next to the park wall and keep going past 6th Avenue (aka Malcolm X Blvd. aka Lenox Ave.) and 7th Avenue (aka Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) and head to the northwest corner of the park. You'll notice the gazillion other park runners are starting up Harlem Hill on the park road. Say goodbye to them for the day.

When you get to the park corner, you'll see your next destination a short block away to the west. Get around the traffic circle in whichever direction you like, get on the north side of 110th Street (aka Cathedral Pky.) and in a minute of two you'll be at the entrance to Morningside Park.

Morningside Park: 3 miles

ornigside Park is short and sweet, The path goes straight up the middle with just a few curves. The sight of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Devine, overlooking the park from up to the west, will remind some of you of scenes from Europe. And the lovely pool nestled against a rocky outcrop is endearing. (It's actually the remnant of the 1968 excavation for the Columbia Gymnasium, which never came about — a not very endearing story.) There's actually 3 sets of bathrooms in the park, so you'll not want for them. Exit at the far north corner onto Morningside Avenue. You'll be at 123rd Street.

Head up the Avenue, cross over 125th Street, and take a right on 127th. Take the first left up the hill (St. Nicholas Terrace) and in just one block you'll be at St. Nicholas Park, the next destination.

St. Nicholas Park: 4 miles

e've run along the top of St. Nicholas Park (along St, Nicholas Terrace) and we've run along the bottom (along St. Nicholas Avenue). The time we decided to run it somewhere in between. Enter at 128th and St. Nicholas Terrace and after going down a few stairs, you'll find yourself on a wide pathway that heads north. You'll spend most of your time on this pathway. This park is particularly steep, and there are plenty of spots where you can get views down through the trees to the lower area.

Bathroom alert: As far as I know, the only bathroom in the park is right near the 128th Street entrance. If you need to use the facilities, don't enter the park at 128th Street, but stay on St. Nicholas Terrace and in about a block or two there will be a playground with a bathroom in the park, but separated from the rest of the park by a fence. You can then go back to the 128th Street entrance, or continue along St. Nicholas Terrace to the next park entrance to get back on the designated route.

Keep on the main north-south path and avoid going down side paths with stairs heading down to the east. About mid way along, there is a set of stairs to climb. There will be an exit to St. Nicholas Terrace here, but keep straight on the path in the park. There is a little detour a bit further along where you can go on a short dirt path (St. Nick's Dog Run) to avoid a small set of stairs. There is one more set of stairs which will put you in the north end of the park.

The path here is clearly less traveled, and is a little overgrown in places, but it's rather charming. You wish there were more places like this around. Finally you'll reach the north end and you'll have to turn down to the lower section at the northeast corner.

To the left there is some construction going on for the . This is a house, originally built in 1802 for Alexander Hamilton, which was recently relocated to this location. When the construction is completed, it will be a nice destination to visit. It's a rare piece of early 19th century architecture that managed to survive into the 21st Century.

Exit the park at the corner of St. Nicholas Ave and 141st Street, cross the Avenue and go one block east on 141st. Turn left and head up Edgecombe Avenue which is the left fork of the two roads that meet at this point. Continue on Edgecombe to 145th Street and you will arrive at Jackie Robinson Park, down to the right.

Jackie Robinson Park: 5 miles

ackie Robinson Park is a bit of a disappointment to me. We had run by it several times along Edgecombe Avenue but never paid much attention. So in preparation for this article, I took the time to run down the stairway at 145th Street and tried to map out an interesting route through the park. I discovered a few nice things: a mammoth swimming pool behind a large recreation center (as big as an armory); a mall lined with London Plane trees that was a bit neglected, but still exhibited it former majesty; a single stairway up to the top about half way along; and some tennis courts towards the north end. But most of the park lands between these features was fenced off with no reasonable way to navigate along the length of the park. The best you could do would be to follow some overgrown paths and get over or under some fences. I actually like that sort of thing, but not in an organized run like this.

So what I suggest you do is to run along Edgecombe Avenue and enjoy the views down into the park, and the rather impressive views out across the Harlem River and into the Bronx. With little traffic, and no cross streets, the sidewalk is almost as good as a park pathway. When you get to the end, you'll see the sorry site of an overgrown stairway leading down into the park, behind a fence with a locked gate. Alas, someday they may do a little fixing up and restore some greater access to this once lovely little park. Bathroom: if you really, really need a bathroom, you can go down the stairs and use the one in the building, then come back up the stairs and rejoin the route. The bathroom in the next park is a good 2 miles away, so keep that in mind.

When you get 155th Street, you can look diagonally across the street up the hill and see High Bridge Park, where Edgecombe Avenue continues, and the long highway ramp down to the Harlem River Drive starts. But in between, there's a magical little triangle of trees with an old monument and fountain. I checked it out but couldn't figure out what it was for, but found the following link: . I'll leave it to you to check the link. It's interesting as an obscure piece of New York City history.

Now it's simply cross the street (watch the traffic which has a lot of confusing off-the-bridge and onto-the-ramp flow) and you'll be at the foot of High Bridge Park.

High Bridge Park: 5.5 miles

f all the parks we ran through on this route, I like High Bridge Park the best. It's not the prettiest, nor does it have the best views, but it certainly is the most rugged, terrain-wise. And the sheer cliff drops straight down, practically to the river. And within the park is one of the most beautiful 19th century structures surviving in the city — the 1872 High Bridge Tower (see photo in the slide show, right). It was built as part of the Croton Water system. Within the tower was a steel tank holding 47,000 gallons of water. The Croton aqueduct crossd the Harlem River on High Bridge (built in 1848) and a pumping house on the Manhattan side pumped water up into the tank. This provided the water pressure to supply the growing uptown neighborhood nearby, which otherwise lies too high to take water from the system. The aqueduct itself, goes along the cliff top, south to 155th Street at which point it goes over to Amsterdam Avenue.

This park is the longest as far as today's run is concerned, almost 3 miles, including the few blocks on streets to the next park. Head north along Edgecombe Avenue and after 3 blocks (opposite 158th Street), turn right into the park and follow the old aqueduct. It's easy to follow and simply heads north for about a mile. There is one point (shown in the photos) where you must veer to the right and then up over a rock ledge, but otherwise it's a straight shot. As you get near the tower, the path becomes paved and soon you'll be at the west end of High Bridge (unfortunately it's fenced off so you can't cross the river). Check the slide show and each of these features is pictured.

From this spot, follow an overgrown path up to the right. Eventually you'll get to a grassy field. Cross the field to the back left corner (a slight back-track) and soon you'll be on the sidewalk of Amsterdam Avenue.

At this point you must head north on the side walk about 6 blocks and cross over several very busy highways which span the Harlem River on bridges. The first is the Cross Bronx Expressway (aka I-95) which is below our grade. The other is 181st Street which we cross at grade. The Rocky cliff of the park actually continues below, but unfortunately you'll have to stick to the sidewalk. Watch out for traffic when crossing the several entrances and exit ramps. After passing this not-so-beautiful section, turn right on Laurel Hill Terrace (the first street after 181st Street) which shortly curves to the left (north). After the equivalent of about 3 blocks, there will be a stone gateway which goes into the park, with dual stairways leading down. Take either stairway and you will find yourself on an old paved park road which is in remarkedly good shape.

Take the road heading to the left (north). You will be treated to one of the loveliest park roads in the city. No cars, no bikes (at least when I was there) and only the occasional dog walker or jogger. Spectacular views of the Harlem River and the Bronx off between the tall trees to the right (east) are plentiful. Stay left at the only fork in the road (the right fork heads down to the river) and you'll eventually come out to Amsterdam Avenue just past the Raoul Wallenberg playground (bathroom within) and continue north on the park walkway.

The road, and the park, will turn to the left and just follow along to the end where you'll get to some high rises. This will be where Fort George Hill goes steeply down to the right, and St. Nicholas Avenue heads south to the left. Cross over and take the second right (check the zoomed-in map on the left for this) and you'll be on Wadsworth Avenue. Unfortunately, there is no street sign at the corner where you turn right onto Wadsworth. Head onto Wadsworth, which turns to the left and in two blocks you'll come to 190th Street. Go down to the right on 190th and you'll come to our next park, Gorman Park.

Gorman Park: 8.5 miles

orman Park, ever hear of it? We never did. We discovered it by accident while trying to find a shortcut from the end of High Bridge Park over to Fort Tryon Park. It's just 2 blocks long (188th to 190th Streets) and a block wide. But it was a perfect find for this route since it got us down from the high ridge along the Harlem River down to Broadway in the valley below.

It's named for Gertie Gorman (who? check it out ) and built in the 1930s (seems like everything was built in the 30s). Its winding stone stairway gets you down the steep hill and it has many touches that you just never see any more. The bird silhoettes on the fence at the top are just amazing! Check the pictures.

Warning: something very cool coming up —
When you get to the bottom, cross Broadway and go one block west on 190th Street. Turn right on Bennett and go north about 3 blocks till you are opposite the sheer rocky cliff of Fort Tryon Park. And what to your wondering eyes should appear in the face of that rocky cliff? A subway entrance! Go in (yes, go in) and you will behold a long tunnel. Run to the end — yes, you're allowed and there's no fare — turn left, and take the elevator up to Fort Tryon Park. You have now included a tunnel and an elevator for the first time into a long run. Cooool!

When you come out of the top of the subways station and look across the street, you will see your next park, the beautiful Fort Tryon, home to the Cloisters

Fort Tryon Park: 9 miles

ort Tryon Park is, I believe, the most beautiful park in the city. This is based on the landscaping, the setting, the views — you name it. One of the two highest points in Manhattan is in the park (near the flag pole) and it has . The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but instead of showing medieval art hanging on the walls of galleries, it has the actual rooms, interiors and exteriors of medieval churches and other structures. It's amazing! If you haven't visited it, go visit it soon. (You can run there if you like — you know the way .)

By the early 20th century the area consisted of several mansions of the very wealthy. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960) bought the land in 1917 and hired the Olmstead Brothers' firm (sons of the co-designer of Central Park) to develop the land. He also bought land directly across the Hudson River along the Palisades to protect his view. Eventually that became the Palisades Interstate Park. In 1931 he donated Fort Tryon to the City. (it was not completely altruistic — in return he got the land on the Upper East Side to build Rockefeller University.)

As you enter the Park, you will be in the Heather Gardens. I have trouble not stopping to check this beautiful area and on some days our run has stopped right here. But assuming you want to go further (there are plenty of beauties to come) steer to the left and run along the leftmost path. Beautifully landscaped gardens will be on both sides with awe inspiring views of the Hudson River, the Palisades and even the George Washington Bridge over your left shoulder. Pass by the rocky outcrop on the right (the high point is up there) and you'll soon come out to a beautiful lawn with The Cloisters visible beyond. An exit ramp off the Henry Hudson Parkway, just for the Cloisters, lies below. The southbound lanes of the Parkway used to be part of the old Riverside Drive which went all the way up to Dyckman Street before the Parkway was built.

Circle around the highway exit ramp far below, and keep to the far left as you approach the Cloisters. Promise yourself you'll come back for a visit, then pass by the parking area on the left and start down the hill. Go down hill all the way (first to the right and then take a sharp left at the bottom) and you'll exit the park onto Riverside Drive (a short length of the old road that still exists). Cross over and go straight down Payson Avenue to Dyckman Street. You'll now see Inwood Hill Park diagonally across the street to the left (with bathrooms in the handsome building a short distance further to the left).

Inwood Hill Park: 10 miles

nwood Hill Park sits at the very northern point of Manhattan with the Hudson on the West, The Harlem River Ship Canal on the north, and the Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood on the east. It is large — at 196 acres it is third in size behind Central Park (840 acres) and Riverside Park (222 acres) in Manhattan.

It also has 3 distinct sections with greatly different "personalities". Along the Hudson there is a series of ball fields and open lawns that are very busy with games and picnics all summer. On the north side it also has a series of open lawns, a few ball fields, a wetland and a visitors center, and we've seen peewee soccer games in progress there. In between is a heavily forested hill that is said to resemble the original landscape of the pre-European island of Manhattan. It's worth a look at the description on the web: .

The central section of the park is also cut by the railroad (just east of the ball fields) and the Henry Hudson Parkway (part way up the hill). This leaves this section rather fragmented and often deserted. We've run there a few time, and it's a great feeling — like no where else in Manhattan — but I highly recommend you go only with a buddy and never at night in this section.

Our route is rather simple: after passing the bathrooms, run along Dyckman Street towards the Hudson and pass under the bridges. Then enter the western part of the park and go along the right hand (east) side of the ball fields. You will shortly come to a pedestrian overpass over the railroad. Go over this and turn left on the path. Avoid the first path up to the right (which takes you under the highway to the main part of this section) and continue to a fork. Take the right fork up the hill (after 10+ miles you'll feel this one) and soon you'll be on the side of the Parkway, with the toll plaza for the Henry Hudson Bridge a short distance ahead.

Take the sidewalk and head over the bridge and you will have finished your brief visit to this park.

Henry Hudson Bridge (11 miles) and Henry Hudson Memorial Park: 11.3 miles

bviously, the Henry Hudson Bridge is not a park, but it is majestic and affords great views. It was closed to pedestians for about 2 years, so you ought to take a run over it while the going is good. Regular followers of this series of articles know I love bridges (e.g. see ) and this is a good one. It was opened for traffic in 1936 and was the longest fixed arch bridge in the world at that time. Beside, I think it's beautiful. The problem, of course, is it's filled with smelly, noisy cars. So run fast and enjoy the views.

When you have reached the other end, you will be in the Bronx. Get off the bridge sidewalk and take the short connector road down to the left and you will see the Henry Hudson Memorial Park, just on the other side of Independence Avenue.

It's a small park, but enter it at the corner and run in and check out the enormous column with the statue of Henry Hudson on top. The column was put up first in 1912, funded by public donations. But it was not until 1936, that Henry got to stand on the column. This was when the bridge opened and the park and the bridge were joined as part of one project. Ironically, when the park was first established and the column was built, a bridge joining this point to Manhattan was proposed. The only original crossing was at the Kings Bridge which was eliminated when the Ship Canal was built in 1898 to be replaced by a bridge at the present site of the Broadway Bridge (the one which the No. 1 train goes over). So both Henry the statue and Henry the bridge had to wait over 20 years (with a little help from WPA funds) for completion.

Here's an amusing story about this statue. We were running in the area a few years ago trying to get to Riverdale Park (that's "Riverdale" not "Riverside"), which follows the Hudson in this area. We asked a local for directions and he said go over near "that statue of Christopher Columbus", pointing to Henry Hudson on his column, which was quite visble from most points in the area. We chuckled and went on with our run. "Henry Hudson", "Christopher Columbus" — same thing! Whatever.

Exit the park at the northeast corner and you will be on Independence Avenue.

Independence Avenue: 11.5 miles

For an alternate route to Wave Hill starting at the Henry Hudson Memorial Park and traversing Riverdale Park, a secluded wooded enclave along the Hudson River, check the next section of this report.

his section starts on Independence Avenue around 228th Street and takes you to Wave Hill which is also on Independence Avenue at around 249th Street. It's about a mile and a half, so it sounds pretty much like a straight shot. But this is Riverdale, where straight roads twist and turn and sometimes disappear altogether for a while, only to reappear further on. And everything in Riverdale is hilly. But Independence is a lovely run — little traffic and a variety of neighborhoods from suburban to almost rural. And a few pretty nice houses along the way.

The way starts north along a tree lined street with pretty houses and then veers to the right. To the left, the map shows something called "Seton Park" but it's not the kind of park we've been hitting today. It's a ball field. There are a number of schools and institutions for a few blocks and suddenly at 246th Street the Avenue seems to disappear. Look more closely — the wide avenue has turned into a 1 lane country road. And the road seems to get little attention — the pavement is in bad shape. Although not so labeled, I assume this part of the road is private and the block association, or whatever they have, is not too concerned with upkeep. This may be to keep through traffic out. I recommend you look carefully at the pictures for these road changes before venturing forth. It's pretty easy once you "get it".

Then suddenly you get to 247th Street and it really does disappear. What to do? Turn up to the right and you'll see a black sign with "Alderbrook PRIVATE NO WAY THROUGH" apparently hand painted on it. It looks more like a drive way then a road, but it is shown on the map. Just to be sure, we've asked local people walking here if it's all right to pass through and they said "Sure". The road turns to the left and goes slightly down hill, and then it turns into a walk way. It goes through a wooded area with a pool visible on the left and ends with a chain barrier. This is to keep vehicles out, not pedestrians.

Once past the chain you are on a stub of a road which shortly leads to Spaulding Lane coming up the steep hill from the left and, lo and behold, Independence Avenue leading up the hill straight ahead. You are now in the last lap of the run, and Wave Hill is but one long block ahead on the left. And if you watched your time you will arrive just before noon on a Saturday and you can enter free of charge.

Riverdale Park, an Alternate Route to Wave Hill: 11.7 miles
One more park, one more hill (a big one) and one more mile

ome folks like parks and love hills, so I've given an alternate route to Wave Hill, in place of the long run along Independence Avenue. It's not quite a mile longer, but the hill (up 254th Street) is a beaut, dwarfing anything else in today's run. I've provided a separate map for this section which, you will note, has a very simple route.

To get to it, when you get off the Henry Hudson Bridge and run the block west to Henry Hudson Memorial Park (as described above), you simply continue west through that Park instead of heading north. You will start to go down hill and when you exit the park on its west side, you'll find yourself on Palisade Avenue, just a little north of Kappock Street. Bear right on Palisade and head north. You will shortly pass 231st Street coming down from the right and then 232nd Street. At this point, just past the houses, enter Riverdale Park at the opening in the fence.

The path through Riverdale Park is entirely dirt and covers about a mile and a half of gentle ups and downs. It is a perfect introduction to trail running. On your left down the hill, is the railroad and the Hudson River, and up the hill on your right, you will get occasional glimpses of Palisade Avenue and sometimes glimpses of beautiful mansions. This is one of the most beautiful and hidden neighborhoods in New York City.

If you keep heading north and avoid any of the side trails down towards the river, you will not get lost. About 1/3 of the way along, you will suddenly find yourself on a short side street off of Palisade with a few houses. This is a small inholding of private houses that didn't get included in the park. Simply run up the street to your right to Palisade Avenue, turn left for a short block, and then reenter the park.

A bit further along, Palisade Avenue will disappear, and for the rest of the way the park is abutted on the east (right hand side) by private property, and for a stretch, by Wave Hill itself. If you peer through the trees up the hill in this section, you can get a glimpse of the Wave Hill mansions.

When you finally leave the park, you'll find yourself on 254th Street, just up the hill from the Riverdale Metro North train station. Take a big breath, turn right and start up the hill. About halfway up, take a right on Sycamore Ave. This is gentler, but the hill is not over yet and it gets steep again when Sycamore joins 252nd Street and you swing to the left and head up. Soon (but not soon enough) you will hit Independence Avenue. Turn right and in about 1/4 mile you'll be at the gate into Wave Hill. Hopefully it will be before noon on a Saturday and you can go in free of charge.

You may notice that the pictures for this section show much less vegetation. That's because I took them on an early spring run in March of last year. In fact we have done parts of this run in just about all the seasons of the year — there is no bad time of year to do this run!

Wave Hill: 13 miles (or 14 miles via the altenate route)

ou made it! Whether via the high road (Independence Avenue) or the low road (Riverdale Park), congratulations! As you might have guessed, in this run getting here is a HUGE part of the fun. Let's see, there were 12 parks (we can't count the HH Bridge or Independence Avenue): Carl Schurz, Central, Morningside, St. Nicholas, Jackie Robinson, High Bridge, Gorman, Fort Tryon, Inwood Hill, Henry Hudson Memorial, Riverdale and Wave Hill itself. I hope you've discovered at least 1 and maybe 11 new parks in the process (I assume EVERYONE has been to Central Park). But fear not, for this trip, the destination IS the destination. Wave Hill is a special type of park — it's city owned, but charges an entrance fee — but NOT on Saturday mornings! The views and landscaping rival that of Fort Tryon park, plus it has not one, but two gorgeous mansions open to the public, a great gift shop, and lots of places to explore. Just last month, when I photographed and made notes (mental notes) for this article, my running partner and I discovered a new and very charming area we had not visited before — and we've been here close to a dozen times.

It's best left to you to discover what's here, but may I suggest a few highlights: the views, the south mansion (Perkins House or Wave Hill House) with it's café and terrace, the pergola, the north mansion (Glyndor House) with it's grandious armor hall and art galleries, the gardens, the gift shop, the ornamental trees, the views, the green house, the hidden alcove, the grape arbor, the bees, and the views. We like to hang out, maybe have a glass of wine, walk through the gardens or explore how far down the hill you can go (answer: all the way down to Riverdale Park — but remember, you have to walk up the hill again), among many other things.

Before you go, read up a little — here's a few links:

What, you say you're hungry? You want to get home?

  haven't forgotten that when you run a long run, especially in summer, you don't want to be left in some spot where there's nothing to eat or drink and no convenient way to get back home. You can eat on site at Wave Hill or nearby (nearby, that is, for a runner like you), and transit is also available within walking distance (walking distance, that is, for a runner. ). Here's the deal:

Food: For food there is a café in the southern mansion with a reasonable menu of ready-made soups, sandwiches and the like, with an assortment of soft drinks, beer and wine. You can eat outside on a lovely terrace with river views. For traditional pub food, there is an excellent Irish pub/restaurant, , with a good brunch menu about a mile distant, and it's right on the way to the subway (the 238th Street station). I've eaten at both places many times. See the map to get there and then to the subway.

Transit: Wave Hill has a web page outlining directions to and from the site by train, bus, subway or car: . You can walk to the subway or the Metro North station or get a free shuttle bus (see next).

Shuttle: A free shuttle bus leaves the Wave Hill gate at 20 minutes past the hour to get you to the Riverdale Metro North station for the New York bound train. A free shuttle leaves the gate on the hour to take you down to the subway with a drop off near the 242nd Street No. 1 train station. I've never taken this shuttle, so to confirm schedule and availability, check with the guard when you go in.

Train: The fastest way back to the city is to take the Metro North train from the Riverdale station, a little over a half mile from Wave Hill, all down hill. Just walk out the Wave Hill gate, go left on Independence Avenue to 252nd Street, which is the end of the Wave Hill property. Go left down the hill and then bear right on Sycamore Avenue which will shortly get you to 254th Street. Go left on 254th down the hill to the station. At the train station you should buy a ticket from the machine — it costs more if you pay on the train. The New York bound trains are on the other side — use the overpass.

The train is more expensive than the subway but it's closer to Wave Hill and and much faster to get you to mid town (30 minutes to Grand Central). The one way off-peak price to Grand Central is $6.50 ($4.25 for seniors). Inbound trains leave at 3 and 36 minutes past the hour. Here's the schedule: .

Subway: The IRT No. 1 train's last stop at 242nd Street and Broadway is the closest subway station. It's about a mile and a quarter from Wave Hill, almost all down hill. I've walked it many times. Just head out the gate and go straight east on 249th Steet, to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Go right along the parkway to the 246th Street overpass and go all the way east on 246th to Post Road. Turn right down the hill on Post Road and you'll end up right next to the 242nd Street station.

Getting to An Beal Bocht and then the subway is almost the same (check the map), except you go along the Henry Hudson Parkway to the second next overpass, 239 Street/Riverdale Ave. Cross the Parkway, and go on Riverdale 1 block to 238th Street. Go down 238th a little more than a block and the the pub is on the left (north) side of the street. After eating just continue down the hill (including 1 block of stairs) and you'll soon be at Broadway and the 238th Steet station.

Beware of weekend interruptions to the No. 1 train service. Check the alerts on the MTA web site () before you go.