If you live in Brooklyn and run, chances are you spend quite a bit of time exploring the streets. If you’re new to the area, need a new running route or want to compare notes, here are a few of my favorite running routes in North Brooklyn.
Newtown Creek Nature Preserve
While some might think it’s a bit of a joke that a nature preserve exists alongside a sewage treatment plant, it is much nicer than you would expect, with lots of flowers and plants. Running along the water, you can almost imagine you are in a real preserve, except for the signs that warn you to immediately wash any skin or clothes that come into contact with the water. There are tables with etched maps of the area and informational signs should you want to give someone a tour of the area. Just remember – No Swimming!
The park is usually quite deserted (although there are cameras) – so be cautious, and try to run as a group, if possible.
The Nitty Gritty: To access the preserve, run straight down Manhattan Ave north until almost the very end. Make a right on Box St, and run straight underneath the Pulaski Bridge. It will turn into Paidge Ave; keep running until the very end, and take the steps or ramp up. It’s a short run around, but an interesting one.
While the pedestrian sidewalk of the bridge can be quite crowded in lovely weather or at rush hour, there are plans to turn one of the car traffic lanes into a bike lane. Until this happens, you should run keeping to your right and looking over your shoulder for bikes. It is a great place to run early in the morning or mid-day to do hill repeats. There’s a short spot in the middle on the top where you can pull aside and take in the view and catch your breath.
The Nitty Gritty: To get to the Pulaski, head north on McGuiness Blvd. This bridge connects Brooklyn and Queens. The pedestrian path is on the left-hand side of the bridge. Once over the bridge – Long Island City is yours to explore!
Running along the East River can provide relief in the summer in the form of waterfront breeze, water fountains, and park sprinklers. This route brings you past many of the waterfront parks in North Brooklyn.
The Nitty Gritty: Starting in the northern-most part on Manhattan Ave (Manhattan Ave just past Ash St/Commercial St), you can view some functional and dilapidated sailboats in the small Manhattan Avenue End Park.
Run straight out of the park on Manhattan Ave, making the first right on Commercial St, and you’ll run straight into Greenpoint Playground, just past the cat colonies. Run a loop of the park, and then run south down Franklin St.
When you get to Greenpoint Ave, make a right to run straight down to the end of Greenpoint Ave, straight into the fairly new Transmitter Park. Run on the pier and check out the skyline.
Run back out of the park to Franklin St, making a right. The American Playground is on the right, with basketball courts, restrooms, and fountains. Look up to see the iconic Greenpoint water tower. After, follow the water south as Franklin St turns into Kent Ave.
On Kent Ave and No. 9th St, you’ll find Bushwick Inlet Park, which has a city parks building with a grass roof, soccer fields, water fountains, water misters, and some benches to sit on to tie your shoe.
Run back out onto Kent, turning right, and almost immediately you can run into East River State Park. Avoid the sometimes cranky geese and the people sunning themselves.
Exit the park, running down Kent Ave only until you get to No. 6th St, making a right. This will lead you into the parks in front of The Edge. People will congregate near the East River Ferry, or on the pier taking photos of the skyline. You can run along the parks to No. 3rd St and then exit, making a right onto River St. Run until you hit Grand St, and make a right, where you can drink some water from the fountain in Grand Ferry Park.
Feel free to keep on heading along the waterfront, even running as far as making a right on Williamsburg Street, and then making a right onto Flushing heading toward the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There are more parks along the water, including the Brooklyn Bridge State Park further south.
Fortunato Brothers Run
You might wonder why I am naming a running route after an amazing bakery, but it is such a phenomenal bakery that I can’t help but run past there frequently. Oh, Fortunato Brothers!
The Nitty Gritty: Starting from Greenpoint Ave and Leonard St, run towards the BQE. New buildings and construction sites dot the route, but there is usually minimal traffic (except crossing on Meeker Ave). Once you arrive at Devoe St, make a left. Run until you get to Manhattan Ave, where Fortunato Brothers Patisserie is located.
Slow down your pace, deeply inhaling through your nose to smell the amazing Italian pastries. You might be tempted to stop and get a cannoli, and I urge you to indulge. You can use it as an excuse to experiment with nutrition during running, and should you feel ill (creamy pastries and running don’t work for everyone) – reduce your speed to a comfortable walk on your way home.
One of my favorite things is to run over the Williamsburg Bridge during rush hour and see how much faster I can run versus the cars. The bridge is little bit over a mile long, with hills on either end. Be sure to enter on the Bedford Ave entrance, and when you get to the Manhattan borough side, run on the south side of the bridge to avoid collisions with cyclists. There are great views, and on a hot day, a river breeze makes the run feel even better.
The Nitty Gritty: To get even more miles once you get over the bridge, make a left off the bridge, running back down Delancey St towards the water. Run over the overpass at the end of the block, and run left to go north or right to go south – both in the car-free East River Park.
McCarren and McGorlick
The Nitty Gritty: You can find McCarren Park at the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg – Manhattan Ave, Bayard St, No. 12th St, Driggs Ave, and Lorimer St are all streets that touch the park. I’ll often run loops of the “dirt trail” around the sides of McCarren, knowing it’s the closest thing to trail running I can do in Greenpoint. There are water fountains, restrooms, and lots of people. There is also a running track, fitness equipment, a dog run, and the Farmers’ Market is on Union St beside the park on Saturdays.
Once you’re finished running around McCarren, leave the park on the corner by Lorimer St and Driggs Ave, running away from Williamsburg. Head down Driggs Ave, being careful when crossing McGuinness Blvd. I am always inevitably faced with a long wait at the traffic light, and use the time to stretch.
Run straight on Driggs Ave, and when you get to Russell St, the park will be in front of you. The park has some really nice arches and the paths wind around the park. There’s a small dog park, and a Sunday farmers’ market as well. Hydrate: there are water fountains and restrooms.
Years ago, when I lived in the East Village, I quickly grew bored of the crowded sidewalks. I feel lucky that I have so many different streets and parks I can visit on my runs that are easy to run down.