The Great Saunter Is the Ultimate Urban Hike in NYC

The Great Saunter, Manhattan

Sid King

Organized by the Shorewalkers, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of New York’s shorelines and parks, The Great Saunter is an event that leads participants on an endurance-testing 32-mile walk around Manhattan. First launched in May 1985, the event is touted as the chance to "see Manhattan at 3 miles per hour" and occurs each year on the first Saturday of May. On this annual walk, you're guaranteed to rediscover the city that never sleeps at a whole new pace.

Circle Manhattan on the Ultimate Urban Hike

The steady-paced, rain-or-shine walk traverses largely flat terrain as it circles the island's perimeter, often along waterfront parks and promenades.

The walk kicks off in the early morning near the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan for some celebratory fanfare. En route, expect to traverse some city parks and take in views of city sights like the Statue of Liberty, the Little Red Lighthouse, and the U.N. building.

You can bring along your own lunch in a backpack and will have a chance to refuel at Inwood Park. Water bottles and snacks will be distributed at certain points throughout the walk, but supplies are limited. There will be a water station for walkers at Riverside Park, but walkers are encouraged to use the water fountains that are marked on the course maps or carry water in a backpack during their walk. Conveniently, there are several public restrooms along the route and event organizers encourage participants to bring sunblock, spare socks to avoid blisters, bandages, a Manhattan street map, and comfortable shoes.

How to Participate

You can register in advance via online registration or on on-site on the day of the hike. Every year, more than 1,000 participants typically sign up for the hike. The Great Saunter is open to all ages, but the length of the event can be a bit much for some children. If you'd like to bring children, consider beforehand how far and for how long they will be able to walk and plan accordingly. Not all participants who start the Great Saunter finish the walk, so plan ahead if there's a section or site of Manhattan you'd like to designate your own finish line.

Explore South Street Seaport

After a long day of walking Manhattan, you might want to stay near the finish line. The Great Saunter ends up where it begins, back at the South Street Seaport, a lively area downtown near the southern tip of Manhattan. It has many restaurants, bars, some good shopping options, and plenty of hotels. Some of the nearest hotels include the AC Hotel New York Downtown, the Fairfield Inn by Marriott, and the Andaz Wall Street.

To get to South Street Seaport, you can take the subway to Fulton Street Station via the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, or Z trains. From the station, it's just a 10-minute walk to South Street Seaport, which is located between Pier 15 and Pier 17, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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