Oh, how much I love rollerblading in Central Park.

my central park routes

For me, rollerblading in Central Park is the perfect workout, with a good warmup, nice early effort, a steady middle, a tough finish, and a forced cooldown. (Consult the numbers on the map to the right to make sense of what I’m saying; the blue lines correspond to uphills, the red to downhills, and the yellow to relatively flat or mildly-sloped roadway.)

I start out at my apartment, and have a three-and-a-half block blade to the Park, which provides a nice warmup. I go across West 100th Street, which is much wider than most crosstown streets due to a police and fire station and then a complex of highrise condominiums; that means that there’s plenty of space to share the road with cars and bikers.

My entry to the park is near the bottom of a short hill (number 1 on the map), which my counterclockwise route takes me up. I’m then greeted with a short downhill into another, slightly steeper, uphill (number 2); then again, I get a quick downhill and even steeper uphill (number 3) until I reach West 85th Street and things level out a bit. It’s a great series of quick sprints and rests, and definitely gets things moving a bit.

From there through the bottom of the park and a bit back up the east side, the grade gently slopes and makes for a good, steady middle part of the workout. Additionally, it’s in this stretch that a lot of peoplewatching takes place, since the southern parts of Central Park are generally more populated than the northern parts, and also contain a lot of people walking home from work in the evenings.

Once I reach East 74th Street, one of the tougher hills in the park awaits (Andy’s Hill, number 4), if only because the past two miles have lulled me into complacency. Additionally, the hill is on a curve, making it harder to keep a steady pace on rollerblades. It’s a good wake-up call, and makes me remember that I’m actually getting some exercise in.

From there, it’s another relatively nice cruise around the east side of the Park — past Cleopatra’s Needle, the Met, and the Guggenheim, mixing with all the runners coming to and from the Reservoir running path. Again, there’s a good chance for peoplewatching, but there’s also a nice flat stretch from East 86th to East 90th where I can go into an all-out sprint to see how much stamina I have in reserve.

Once I see Mount Sinai hospital towering out of the foliage, I get to make a decision — do I choose to cut off the top of the park, taking the 102nd Street cutoff (number 5) and get home faster, or do I continue northward, to an awesome downhill (number 6) past the Lasker pool and skating rink that segues into the most brutal uphill series in the Park (Heartbreak Hill, number 7)? Either way, I end up back at the hill I started on, and repeat it, jetting out of the park just at its peak on West 96th Street. The eight-and-a-half block trip back to my apartment gives me a nice cooldown, and then it’s all over.

Total distance? About 5.5 miles if I cut off the top of the Park, and about 6.3 miles (and the glory of completing Heartbreak Hill) if I leave it in. It really is the perfect workout; I’ll miss it when I move to Boston.

Thanks to the Central Park Track Club for the map that I modified to draw the above route.


Awesome. Meg and I were just talking about the possibility of Rollerblading in Central Park. Glad it’s not only a possibility but a good time as well. We hope to take good advantage of that in the spring.

• Posted by: jkottke on Oct 9, 2002, 1:05 PM

This is a good loop to do on bikes too, of course. If I have my road tires on my mountain bike, I do 3 laps of the park on the weekend for a good cardio workout.

I know that the bladers/skaters used to do a tight slalom course with cones down near the Tavern on the Green. The past few times I’ve been in the park on the weekend, I haven’t seen them though.

Another great route is basically the West Side Highway/ Hudson River Park. You can take it from the bottom of Manhattan most of the way to the George Washington Bridge. I often cross the GWB and ride up into the Palisades in NJ if I have the time and endurance. It can make for a great 40-70 mile ride if you want to do that.

The Lower Manhattan Youth Green Map is a fun resource too.

• Posted by: Gen on Oct 9, 2002, 2:11 PM

how long does it take you?

• Posted by: alison on Oct 9, 2002, 4:17 PM

Alison- if you’re asking me, it’s about 20-25 mins per lap. I’m on a mountain bike and the roadies (and people in better shape) blow by me like I’m standing still, so I’m not that fast :) I usually stop once a lap near the Tavern on the Green to take a break and people-watch.

If you want to do the whole West side from Battery Park to the GWB and back, I’d allot at least 3 hours possibly 4 if you don’t know the way and get lost ;) It’s not so much that it’s that far, it’s just that it’s very crowded on the weekends and for most of the way you are going uphill.

Getting across the GWB on a bike is a bit tricky too- there’s a small foot/bike path that you have to find and navigate. Also, it’s a bit spooky for me as I have a slight fear of heights. Walking or riding a bike across the GWB is really spectacular though. I cross it every day, twice a day, on my commute and the whole experience never ceases to amaze me.

• Posted by: Gen on Oct 9, 2002, 4:52 PM

Alison, blading the in-Central-Park part generally takes me about half an hour, with another five minutes to get from and to my apartment. It’s awesome.

• Posted by: Jason on Oct 9, 2002, 9:49 PM

I roller bladed the central park once. I’m gonna try it tomorrow Sat. again. I haven’t touched my skates in like a year. I think it’s one of the most fun activities to do in NYC. And it’s free! Plus you get a wonderful workout!

• Posted by: Leo on Jul 10, 2004, 2:53 AM

Are there free rollerblading lessons in Central Park anywhere or pay??

• Posted by: Loretta on Aug 9, 2004, 4:28 PM
Please note that comments automatically close after 60 days; the comment spammers love to use the older, rarely-viewed pages to work their magic. If comments are closed and you want to let me know something, feel free to use the contact page!