Central Park: The North Woods

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Escape the city within this stream-cut woodland featuring multiple waterfalls, rustic bridges, and a picturesque pond.

Quick Info:

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Map: See bottom of page

The commute:

Take the B or C train to 103rd St and walk 3 blocks down Central Park West to the 100th St entrance (or get off at 96th and walk 4 blocks uptown). Alternatively, take the 1, 2, or 3 train to 96th St and walk east up the hill until you reach the park. Then walk four blocks up CPW to 100th St.

The Hike:

1. Enter Central Park on the uptown side of the 100th St entrance and keep straight on the path heading downslope. Look out for red-tailed hawks, who often soar overhead or hang out on the street lamps.

Red-tailed hawk hangs out on a street lamp (1)

2. You'll pass a rushing stream and come to the "Pool" (don't try swimming in it), a pleasant pond lined with weeping willow and bald cypress trees.

3. Follow along the pond until you come to a three-way split. Choose the middle path, bringing you down to a cascading waterfall and stone arch. You might see a raccoon climbing along the rocks where they make their home.

Raccoon makes eye contact (3)

4. Walk under the arch and you'll be transported into the peaceful North Woods. Other than the metal fences, can you believe you're still in Manhattan?

5. Follow along the stream, known as the Loch, and you'll come to a rustic wooden bridge. Don't cross the bridge, instead go to the rocky area straight ahead. Here is an elevated view of the Loch as it meanders through the North Woods.

The meandering Loch (5)

6. Continuing past the overlook, turn left and cross a different bridge over a rocky stream.

7. Take another left after crossing the bridge. Continue to follow the stream as it passes moss covered logs, bright-green ferns, and lush wetland plants. Multiple paths lead over to the water's edge.

8. Eventually the main path will head downhill, dropping you off at a scenic waterfall.

The Waterfall (8)

9. When you've sufficiently taken in the refreshing sound of rushing water, depart the falls by taking the stairs to your right. Keep straight on this path through the forest, which loops back around to the wooden bridge from before.

10. Take the path on the right and head back under the arch. Say goodbye to the North Woods!

11. Walk up the stone steps alongside the waterfall, returning you to the Pool. Take a right and then a left to walk along the opposite side of the pond from before. Now you can either take a right up ahead to leave the park at 103rd St, or a left for the 100th street exit.