A Rambling Walk in Central Park from Summit Rock to Conservatory Water

The recent spring rains may have put a damper on strolls in the park, but the rain has been mighty good for the flora and fauna. On Friday, when the weather was just plain cloudy, many residents and visitors, including many migratory birds, flocked to Central Park.

Summit Rock in Central Park

A meandering walk from Summit Rock near Central Park West over to Conservatory Water on the east side of the park near Fifth Avenue is a good choice for such days. The stroll offers glimpses of the built environment but mostly stays within the trees, especially in The Ramble.

A glimpse of skyscrapers under construction from Summit Rock
 
Birds love Central Park, as the city’s most famous park provides everything that birds need during spring migration - food, water, access to shelter and open spaces.

A Blackburnian Warbler in flight at Summit Rock

Studies of successful public spaces have demonstrated that humans require the same things as birds, so it’s not surprising that birds of a feather will flock together in the great green space in the middle of Manhattan. Central Park provides convenient access to food, water features, necessary facilities, the choice of solitude or companionship, and a quiet place away from the street.

Near the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park

From Summit Rock, this walk meanders down past the Shakespeare Garden, the gardens set aside for the Bard located next to Delacorte Theater, home of Shakespeare in the Park.

Oak Bridge leading into The Ramble

Cross 79th Street and head south on West Drive. Look for Oak Bridge, a path to The Ramble crossing Bank Rock Bay. Study the map on the other side of the bridge for an overview. The park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, intentionally kept this part of the park wild and free, so it’s easy to get turned around. The Ramble is naturally one of the prime spots for birding.

View of Bow Bridge from The Ramble

The Ramble provides good views of the famous Bow Bridge and Bethesda Terrace.

Telephoto view of Bethesda Terrace and Fountain from The Ramble. 

If you’ve brought along a proper camera for birding, you can also zoom in to watch the humans on The Lake and the terrace on the opposite shore.

Azalea Pond at the end of azalea season.

Azalea Pond in The Ramble also attracts ample birds and birdwatchers. Plus, azaleas are in bloom during a few weeks in spring. If roughing it in The Ramble is unsuitable for more formal types, rest assured that The Loeb Boathouse is nearby, providing easy access to food and drink.

Kerbs Memorial Boathouse at Conservatory Water

The walk continues to Conservatory Water, a charming stop in Central Park with model boats for rent and more opportunities for adults to act like children. Nearby statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson reinforce the message. The Kerbs Memorial Boathouse also offers food and drink.

I'm sure Stuart Little is around here, too.

Fifth Avenue is now just a few steps away.



The stroll, as shown on the map, is approximately 1.5 miles. Should you wish to postpone rejoining the world of concrete and traffic, the walk can take much longer.

I almost forgot to note that Central Park will go car-free on June 27, 2018, except for emergency vehicles and the four main east-west tranverses.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from May 18, 2018.

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About Walking Off the Big Apple



Walking Off the Big Apple features self-guided tours to neighborhoods, streets, cultural history, good books, architecture, museums, parks, landscapes, and offbeat travel experiences in New York City.

Older posts will sometimes be updated to reflect relevant changes in the city, i.e. store or restaurant closings or transit information.

Writer and editor Teri Tynes created Walking Off the Big Apple in the summer of 2007. Email: teritynes@gmail.com.