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Central Park North

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Fall in Central Park is something truly special.

Two tourists in red stand on an ornate wooden bridge over a calm stream in Central Park. Fall foliage is just coming in with a tree with yellow leaves visible beside the bridge.
Central Park Bridge in the Fall

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.

A crowd of tourists admire the Autumn foliage from the desk of Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Around the castle trees with green, yellow, and orange leaves.
Autumn view off the Central Park's 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.

View off Belvedere Castle of Central Park's Turtle Pond and Great Lawn with sky scrappers in the background.
View off Belvedere Castle of Central Park's Turtle Pond and Great Lawn with sky scrappers in the background.

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.

Cell phone photo of London Plane Tree with yellow autumn leaves in Central Park. Tourists walk on the loose graveled Bridle Path next to the tree.
Cell phone photo of London Plane Tree with yellow autumn leaves in Central 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.

Cannon monument in Central Park's Fort Clinton. Around the monumnet is loose gravel and an ornate wooden fence surrounds it. In the background can be seen tall buildings and sky scrappers of Manhattan.
Cannon Model in Central Park's Fort Clinton

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.

Autumn view of The Pool in Central Park with green, yellow, and orange foliage in the trees surrounding the water. Tall brick buildings of Manhattan's Upper Westside can be seen in the background.
Autumn view of The Pool in Central Park

We made a lap of The Pool then followed the stream and water falls back into the North Woods.

Bridge underpass into Central Park's North Woods following a stream. Looking into the woods trees with start of Autumn foliage can be seen.
Bridge underpass into Central Park's North Woods.

After some more time exploring the North Woods we took a trail westward onto the Great Hill which, at 135 feet, offers stunning glimpses 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 (and cellphone photo) by Babysteps

Photography by J-Dub

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