If that scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest starts off walking . . . and just keeps on walking . . . ever inspired you to set out to hoof it some distance yourself, here's your chance to test out your gumption. Organized by the Shorewalkers, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of New York’s shorelines and parks, The Great Saunter leads participants on an endurance-testing 32-mile walk around Manhattan's circumference. On this annual urban hike, you're guaranteed to rediscover the city that never sleeps, with its many natural and urban landscapes, in a whole new way!
Circle Manhattan Island on the Ultimate Urban Hike
First launched in May 1985 (held annually on the first Saturday in May), the event is touted as the chance to "see Manhattan at 3 miles per hour." The steady-paced, rain-or-shine walk traverses largely flat terrain as it circles the island's perimeters, along waterfront parks and promenades where possible.
The walk kicks off in the early morning near the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, where it also winds down later that evening, for some celebratory fanfare. En route, expect to traverse some 20 city parks, and to take in views of city sights like the Statue of Liberty, the Little Red Lighthouse, and the U.N., along with views across the waterways to all four outer NYC boroughs, as well as New Jersey and its Palisades. The springtime date ensures seasonal blooms for a beautified route (And at 32 miles, you'll put that measly 26.2-mile marathon to shame by a full 6 miles!).
Bring along your own lunch in a day pack for a pit stop to refuel in Inwood Park, along with an ample water supply. Water bottles and snacks will be distributed at certain points throughout the walk, though supplies are limited. Conveniently, there are several public restrooms along the route. Event organizers encourage participants to bring sunblock, spare socks (to avoid sweating-induced blisters), Band-Aids (for said blisters), a Manhattan street map (in case you decide to drop out early), and most importantly -- comfortable sneakers or shoes!
How to Participate
More than 1,000 participants typically sign up for the yearly hike. You can register in advance via online registration at the Shorewalkers site by registering for a Shorewalkers Hiking Club membership. On-site, day-of registration is also usually available -- you'll get your participant number to pin on your shirt, and can pick up your program guide and map.