Running and Cycling Loops in Brooklyn's Prospect Park

Lengths of Park's Perimeter, Center Drive, and Upper Loop

View of Prospect Park
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People often ask how long the loop is in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. There is more than one loop.

Most folks are referring to Center Drive, the road that drivers use, that encircles the park. But if you looking for a shorter route, there's another internal loop that's faster, it's known as the shortcut or upper loop.

The Loops

Prospect Park is a 526-acre park in the middle of Brooklyn. The park has the only lake in the entire borough of Brooklyn. There are a number of running and cycling paths you can use in the park, but there are three main looping paths that pedestrians, runners, and cyclists use.

  • Center Drive Loop: A full loop around Prospect Park on Center Drive is 3.35 miles. As of January 2018, cars were banned from driving in the park. Before the ban, this loop was used by cars (in addition to having a bike and walking lane).
  • Upper Loop: The shorter, upper loop is 2.44 miles. (This was measured starting at Grand Army Plaza going counter-clockwise and cutting across on Center Drive just above the lake). If you want to take the fastest, shortest route, use the cutaway road above the lake. The upper loop also has the big uphill climb that is experienced by the other loops and is not as well paved in all places as Center Drive, so you may or may not wish to take young or inexperienced cyclists on this path.
  • Sidewalk/Perimeter Loop: The distance around the perimeter of the park (along the bordering sidewalks) is 3.75 miles. If you want to walk and burn off the most calories or spend the longest time talking on your cell phone, then walk the perimeter path in order to log the most steps.

Park Races

If you're interested in participating in a race in Prospect Park, there are many races that take place throughout the year. The Prospect Park Track Club and the New York Road Runners have a handle on most all the races in Prospect Park. 

One of the big favorites is the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which starts at the Brooklyn Museum on the edge of the park. The route loops around Prospect Park goes down Ocean Parkway and ends at the Coney Island boardwalk.

The Prospect Park Track Club features a summer 5K race series every year. From May to August, every other week, there's a race. Awards are handed out by age grouping. Walkers are welcome, but due to liability reasons, no strollers or pets.

Tips

  • Not up for running? You can walk the loop, but be mindful of the runners and stay out of the bike lane.
  • The loop is quite congested with people on weekend mornings, which is one of the most popular times to run the loop.
  • In the warmer months, you might want to reward yourself with a trip to the Smorgasburg, which is located in Prospect Park on Sundays and right off the loop. Smorgasburg is one of the largest weekly open-air food markets in America attracting up to 30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend to eat from 100 local vendors.