Completely encircling Central Park is a wide walkway with hexagonal stones. It's nice in all four seasons. In the Spring and Summer, you run through a shady tunnel of green.
The Fall is very colorful, and in the Winter, you can see through the trees into the Park.
Although it looks like a straight, even, easy path, it's very uneven and bumpy. Only run on this path if you have good ankles.
Except for Central Park North, 110th Street. That's completely flat and really nice to run on.
It may look like a long, boring path compared to the windy, scenic paths within the Park boundaries, but there are several great viewpoints into the Park that you can't get from inside (like the Pond, you'll see below). All of the pictures in this post were taken from the perimeter path.
The perimeter is also the home to several monuments and memorials. These three are all along 5th Ave:
The circumference of Central Park, well, not circumference because that's only for circles, right? The perimeter of the Park is 6.1 miles. I ran around Grand Army Plaza (59th and 5th) and backtracked a few times for pictures. That's why mine says 6.5 miles.
Here's some Manhattan Grid knowledge for you. Streets run across the island. The distance between two streets is 1/20th of a mile. So 20 streets equals one mile. Central Park stretches from 59th to 110th Street, or 51 streets. Fifty blocks is 2.5 miles, so add another 20th of a mile to that: 2.55 miles. Avenues run up and down the island. Distance between avenues varies, but usually it's about 3 streets' worth. Central Park goes from 5th Ave on the East to 8th Ave (Central Park West) on the West. That's 3 blocks, or about 9/20ths of a mile. It's actually half a mile. So 2.55 + 2.55 + .5 + .5 = 6.1 miles.
Whew! Math! Let's get back to pictures.
I started on the Upper West Side, around the San Remo Towers.
I ran counter-clockwise around the Park. Along CPW (Central Park West), you see the Lake, the Tavern on the Green and Sheep's Meadow, and then you hit Columbus Circle.
Behind me is the Time Warner Center and Chris Columbus on his tower. Then, running across 59th Street (Central Park South) is a treat. All along the street you'll find horse-drawn carriages waiting for tourists.
...with plenty of pigeons eating the horse food.
You'll also get a great view of the pond and Gapstow Bridge.
When you get to 5th Ave, you'll hit Grand Army Plaza, a very popular spot for street performers.
Starting up 5th Ave, you pass the Arsenal, the home of the Central Park Conservancy - the group that keeps the Park looking great and functioning so well.
Then you run alongside the zoo. You can easily see down into the children's zoo, which is a lot of fun in the Summer. It seemed it was too early or too cold when I ran by this morning because I didn't see anything going on.
Halfway up 5th Ave, you run into the MET.
This was the least busy I've ever seen it. Probably because it had barely opened by this time. If you try to run through here on a sunny summer afternoon, forget about it. It's PACKED. You can barely walk through, forget about trying to run through.
Just a half mile up from the MET, you run into another famous museum.
Past the Guggenheim, it's another mile to the top corner with Pioneers Gate, the northeast entrance to the Park and view of the Harlem Meer.
Just a few steps west gives you another view looking south over the Meer and the rest of the Park towards midtown.
That's 432 Park (tall skinny one) and the Empire State Building (you can see the spire in the middle).
I circled around the northwest corner and headed south along CPW. When I got to 96th, I noticed that my phone had stopped recording my run. :( So I ran back up to 106th where it had stopped (adding 1 unrecorded mile to the run) and restarted the route. Tech issues. :/
Around 101st, the view opens up to see the Pool (not to be confused with Lasker Pool, the actual pool you can swim in next to the Harlem Meer).
This Pool is more like a pond. It feeds the stream that runs through the Loch and the Ravine.
Another mile down the west side and I was done! A full loop around Central Park in a little less than an hour.