One of my favorite sections of Manhattan’s Central Park is The Ramble. It sits right in the middle of the park between 74 Street and 79 Street, with the Bow Bridge to the south and Belvedere Castle to the north. In between you can find a 38 acre area full of winding trails, plenty of greenery and trees, and a variety of wildlife. Read on to learn more about The Ramble and all you will need to know for a visit.
1) Background of The Ramble
There are only a few areas in Central Park where you can find a whole labyrinth of forested trails. You have the North Woods all the way up at the northernmost portion of park, the small Hallett Nature Sanctuary in the southeast corner, and of course The Ramble, located in the center of the park.
In The Ramble you will have the opportunity to enjoy a woodlands landscape, where you will not even feel like you are in New York City.
The Ramble was created by Central Park designers – Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux – as a rural escape from the bustling city of Manhattan that surrounds it. This area was designed to replicate the landscapes of the Adirondacks and a way to truly be entrenched in nature.
The Ramble is not just a forested area with trails running through it. You will find several highlights including the Azalea Pond, the Gill stream, stone arches, over 200 bird species, and even a hidden cave.
There is just so much to explore during a visit to The Ramble and it is a great add on to any visit to Central Park.
Rules of The Ramble // Here are a couple important rules about The Ramble that are important to know for a visit:
1) Dogs must be leashed at all times while in this area to protect against any potential damage to the flora and fauna.
2) You cannot ride your bike through The Ramble. If you are biking through Central Park and end up in the protected area, you just need to get off your bike and walk through with it until you exit.
2) Where to Stay in Manhattan
There are so many different neighborhoods to choose from when visiting Manhattan. Below are some of my top choices for a few of my recommended locations in the city:
Chelsea: If you are looking to be well situated between uptown, midtown, and downtown, then Chelsea can be a great option for you. You have highlights such as the Highline, Chelsea Market, the Vessel, and the Hudson River right nearby.
And if you are looking to head to Central Park uptown or the World Trade Center area further downtown, then you are just a quick subway ride away. Recommended Chelsea hotels:
Midtown: Right in the middle of the action is the midtown area, where you have the one and only Times Square, and all Broadway shows right at your doorstep. You are also within walking distance to the southern end of Central Park.
Almost all subway lines connect at Times Square so getting around should not be an issue. Recommended Midtown hotels:
Tribeca: If you are trying to stay in downtown Manhattan, then I would recommend looking into the Tribeca area. Staying here and you will be just a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center area, 9/11 Memorial Pools & Museum, and the hop on point for the Statue of Liberty.
While Central Park is a bit further away, you should still be able to reach it in about 30 minutes by subway. Recommended Tribeca Hotels:
3) Central Park Ramble Map
One important thing to note about The Ramble is that the trails and pathways that make their way through it can get very confusing. Odds are you will be walking in circles at one point or another as you wander your way around the area.
Below is a screenshot of The Ramble that shows the whole variety of winding trails. I have also pinpointed some highlights of The Ramble, which I will get into throughout the remainder of this guide.
4) How to Get to The Ramble
The Ramble can be accessed from several different entry points on all sides of the park. Below is a Google Maps view with many of the main entrances starred.
1) Bow Bridge Entrance
One of the more popular entrances to The Ramble is to head right across the Bow Bridge near the Bethesda Terrace, where you will then end up in the southern end of the area.
2) Oak Bridge Entrance
If you are heading along West Drive, you can enter from the northwest part of The Ramble as you make your way across the Oak Bridge
3) Loeb Boathouse Entrance
You can also make your way into The Ramble right next to the Loeb Boathouse at the southwest corner of the area.
4) 79 Street Entrances
You can also enter from a couple spots along the 79 Street traverse. You can do so from the intersection of 79 Street and East Drive. Or if coming from Belvedere Castle you can head down right behind it to the traverse and cross into The Ramble from there.
While most of The Ramble can simply be enjoyed by getting lost and walking its trails, I did want to point out some of the top highlights to be sure to visit while exploring the area (as I pointed out in the map above).
5) Ramble Stone Arch
One of the main features at the northwest part of The Ramble is the Ramble Stone Arch. The stone arch was built back in 1863 and measures just 5 feet wide. You can head under the arch and across the top of it as you make your way around the area.
Another interesting thing to note here is that on the east side of the arch, is where one of the entrances was to the infamous Ramble Cave. In the 1930’s, the entrance was covered with dirt and essentially hidden into the hillside.
6) The Ramble Cave
Speaking of the Ramble Cave, you can still get some idea of what used to be there back in the day. If you cross under the arch, head up the stairs to the right and then follow the path towards the water, you should see a steep staircase on the other side of railing that leads down to the waterfront.
Here is where the other entrance to the Ramble Cave was located before being covered up with stones. While you can’t actually visit the cave since it is boarded up, it is still a pretty unique part of the park to visit.
7) The Gill
Also in The Ramble you can find a man-made stream called The Gill. The stream winds its way through the center of The Ramble connecting the Lake and the Azalea Pond. Towards the southern end of the stream you will find a small cascading waterfall that flows down the rocks and ultimately into the Lake.
It is a relaxing walk to take along the flowing water as you make your way between the Lake and Azalea Pond area.
8) Azalea Pond
The largest body of water within The Ramble itself would be the Azalea Pond. The Gill stream starts just beyond the pond, before widening into the pond itself and then emptying out in the Lake.
At the Azalea Pond you will find one of the hot spots for bird watching in all Central Park. The spring time is a great season to visit when the pink Azalea flowers bloom around the lake.
Near the Azalea Pond you will also find the rustic Azalea Pond Bridge that heads over the Gill.
9) Bird Watching
As mentioned a few times before, bird watching is probably the most frequent activity that you will come across in The Ramble. It is common to find many small groups of bird watchers taking their time to listen to and photograph the 200+ species of birds that call Central Park home.
You will also find an area right near the Azalea Pond with several birdfeeders in the trees. This is a great spot for anyone to sit back and enjoy just some of those bird species all in one place.
10) The Lake Viewpoints
If you head closer to the southern end of The Ramble near the Loab Boathouse you will find a small peninsula jutting into the Lake itself. There are a couple of paths on the peninsula with various lookout points onto the Central Park Lake as well as the Bow Bridge out in the distance.
11) Walking the Paths
Of course, throughout seeing any and all of the above places within The Ramble, you are sure to get lost on all the various walking paths. It sure can get confusing in there as you walk in circles but it is all part of the fun of being in the forest surrounded by the variety of flora and fauna.
I should also note that many of the paths also have benches or seating areas, where you can sit back and relax. There are also a few more open areas of The Ramble with small fields, if you wanted to sit down with a group in a quiet place in the park.
As you can see, The Ramble offers a whole lot to its visitors and is a great way to spend a couple hours exploring Central Park. There is also so much more to explore in the park and it can take days navigating all of the different corners.
As always, feel free to write in any questions or comments below. Have fun out there and safe travels!