Fall in Central Park is something truly special.
But with an estimated 165,000 visitors on a Fall Saturday it can feel overwhelming to enjoy the season, especially in the southern half of the park with its popular tourist stops. To avoid the crowd, J-Dub and I planned an urban hike beginning and ending in the northern half of the park.
Entering in the northwest corner at 110th street briefly followed the major bike path to find a side entrance into the North Woods.
Taking the inner loop trails around the Blockhouse we explored around enjoying the foliage, views, and relative privacy this area of the park offers. The Blockhouse, Central Park’s oldest building, was positioned as a fort because of it’s vantage point and while much has changed since 1814, there are still some nice views over the treetops here.
We followed North Woods trails through the Ravine and the Loch until we linked up with a trail that runs through the 23 acres of the North Meadow.
Making our way past the North Meadow Recreational Center and the Tennis Courts we hopped on the Reservoir loop and took a quick, Autumnal lap around before exiting the loop and venturing southward past the Great Lawn up to Belvedere Castle.
It was a busy day in this part of the park and we had to wait in line to climb up each of the two sets of stairs in the castle, but the view on the top through crisp October air was well worth it.
After stepping out of the park for a coffee break we headed back northward, this time on the east side, taking the bridle path around the top of the Reservoir. It was here we found, what one New Yorker walking her dogs told us was, the oldest tree in the park.
We went up along the western perimeter of the East Meadow to Fort Clinton with two refurbished cannons and a cool view down on the Conservatory Garden to the south and Harlem Meer to the north.
Heading down from the fort, we walked the perimeter loop around the Harlem Meer, though had to hop onto 5th Avenue with a section of that walk undergoing restoration work.
Following the Meer around we hopped back into the North Woods taking a trail south west to The Pool.
We made a lap of The Pool then followed the stream and water falls back into the North Woods.
After some more time exploring the North Woods we took a trail westward onto the Great Hill which, at 135 feet, offers some amazing views of the city between trees.
The Great Hill put us in good position to make our final exit of the park, catching the C train at 103rd and heading back uptown.
Words by Babysteps
Photography by J-Dub