If it’s peace and quiet you’re after, the middle of Manhattan is usually not the place you want to be. Except, maybe it is? The North Woods–the lush, green, overgrown 90-acre section of northern Central Park–is filled with rushing waterfalls (I came across three), tight canopies of trees and winding, wooded paths. When you’re in the thick of it, the city’s skyline completely disappears. Originally designed to simulate the Adirondacks, you could imagine yourself anywhere, from central Vermont to rural Shenandoah, except you’re at about 105th Street near Central Park West, mere yards away from some of the liveliest sections of the city. The starkness is highlighted when you finally exit the woods–which I did at the eastern end of the Pool–and you’re greeted by the pleasant din of picnicking tourists and racing bicyclists. The Central Park Conservancy doesn’t meticulously cultivate the area the way they do most of the park; fallen trees are left unmoved unless they are deemed hazardous, lending the woods a pleasant untouched quality. It’s a slice of the rural life tucked inside the world’s busiest urban park.
Below, a walk through the North Woods on a rainy day. I entered from the East Side, near 104th Street, right by the Central Park loop.