The Best Running Routes in Manhattan/Brooklyn

I’ve been living in Brooklyn for about 3 months now, and although I am still a noobie to the Big Apple, I have covered quite a bit of pavement. I remember when I first moved here, I had no idea how I would be able to run in a city with so many people, traffic, and activity. Luckily, Brooklyn is a bit better than Manhattan as it has larger roads and is generally less busy, but it was still challenging trying to navigate where to run. Something I did not expect to be so difficult, but ended being quite a challenge, was trying to find the entrance to bridges. On one of my very first runs, I had planned to go across the Williamsburg Bridge and ended up spending an extra 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to get on the bridge itself. (The entrance is on Bedford St and S 6th St, for all those who are wondering.)

I’ve done a countless number of runs in Prospect Park, up and down the Hudson River Park, the East River Park, across the Williamsburg/Manhattan/Brooklyn Bridges, just to name a few areas of the city that are runner-friendly. Every route has its pros and cons, and I now have a pretty good understanding of which ones I like and don’t like.

So, in an attempt to help out fellow noobie New Yorkers, future New Yorkers, or veteran New Yorkers who are looking for new running routes, here are a few of my favorite ones.

Note: Most begin/end in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, as this is where I live (clearly). Also, these are routes designed for my own training/mileage, so please use these as a rough guideline and adjust as need be. Seems obvious but I feel like I need to point that out.

Best Flat, Quick Run: Up and Down Kent Ave (Brooklyn)

This is a good run for anyone in proximity of Kent Ave, which starts in Clinton Hill and goes up all the way to Greenpoint. The road is flat, you don’t have to worry about starting/stopping, and you will have lots of company as this is a popular running spot.

Total Mileage: 4.14 miles

Elevation: 110 ft

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 2.19.09 PM

Best for Training Hills: Across Manhattan and WIlliamsburg Bridges (Brooklyn/Manhattan)

The bridges have a steep incline (followed by a steep decline), so they are great if you want to include hills in your runs. I’ve seen a lot of runners just go across the same bridge multiple times in a row… which isn’t really my idea of an enjoyable run, but hey, whatever works for you.

I usually run to Manhattan Bridge, then go through Chinatown (beware: it is not the cleanest area in the city. In fact, today I nearly stepped on a dead pigeon.), then onto Delancey St, which leads directly to the Williamsburg Bridge, and then down Kent Ave home.

Note: The Manhattan Bridge has a separate entrance on the Brooklyn side for runners and bikers. Runners must enter at Jay St and Sands St. Don’t do what I did and try to enter from the bike entrance– you will get yelled at. And you will feel like an idiot.

Total Mileage: 8.44 miles

Elevation: 270 ft

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.13.07 PM

Best Park Run in Brooklyn: Prospect Park (Brooklyn)

I love this run. It’s simple, challenging but not impossible, and it’s always nice to have so many fellow runners around you. Don’t worry about getting lost (although I somehow did the first time I ran in this park): you just need to follow the crowd. Everyone pretty much runs in one direction and does the same big loop. You should know there is a massive hill at the end, so if you like to avoid hills at all costs, don’t run in this park. Or simply exit the park early.

Total mileage: 7.33 miles

Elevation: 306 ft

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.15.42 PM

Best Park Run in Manhattan: Central Park (Manhattan)

This run is a must if you live in NY. It’s an iconic park, and for good reason. The view around the reservoir is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve done this run just once only because it’s far from my place, but I loved it. It’s definitely a harder route since there are rolling hills throughout the park, but if you’re looking for a challenging yet scenic run, this is it.

Total Mileage: 8.26 miles

Elevation: 419 ft

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.18.33 PM

Best Long Run: Cross bridge; up/down east side of Manhattan; Prospect Park loop (Brooklyn/Manhattan)

I’m training for a marathon right now, and long runs are a great way to explore parts of the city you haven’t had a chance to see yet. It feels like options for exploration are limitless, and I love spinning the dread of a long run in a positive light. It goes from being a seemingly impossible task to a fun adventure. :)

That said, what I find best is staying on the east side of Manhattan and then going back to Brooklyn and doing the Prospect Park loop. I’ve gone across Manhattan and ran on the Hudson River side (the west side), but I find it annoying to have to deal with traffic going to/from the east and west sides; it involves more starting/stopping than I would like. Also, the Hudson River Park can be a little confusing since it has so many different roads for runners and bikers, and I never really know which road I should be on because it switches so often.

The East River Park is lovely, with views of Queens/Williamsburg on your right as you run alongside the water. To get to it, you just run all the way east on Delancey St and you will eventually hit a bridge that takes you over FDR Drive and into the park.

Note: I had to split the route into two since it wouldn’t fit on one screen shot.  

Total Mileage: 19.06 miles

Elevation: 687 ft

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.25.43 PM
Miles 1-11: Cross the Manhattan Bridge, turn right on Grand St; left on Lewis St; right on Delancey to reach the East River. Run north until 25 St, turn left on 25 St, and run south on 1st Ave until you hit Delancey St. Cross the Williamsburg Bridge; go south on Kent Ave; turn right on Flushing until you hit Vanderbilt Ave…
Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.26.00 PM
Miles 11-19: … Go south on Vanderbilt Ave until you hit the park. Do the loop, exit the park and turn right onto Eastern Parkway (another great road to run on, by the way), turn around when you hit Nostrand Ave, and go back west until Washington Ave to go home.
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