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Central Park vs Forest Park

July 17th, 2011 [print] 2 comments

In my opinion, the best thing about Central Park in NYC is the wide-open bike path.  Technically, it’s part road, part multi-use path, but I’ve only ever used it as a bike path, and I suspect many others do as well.  The route itself circles the 843 acre park, and measures approximately 6mi in length.  Leave the path on foot, and it’s possible to get lost in the park, and spend an entire day exploring.

Not until recently, though, did I realize a similar bike path existed not too far from me, in St. Louis, at Forest Park.  Sure, I’ve been aware of the park for years, and even driven through it a few times, but I was never aware of the bike path.  On a recent trip to St. Louis, I finally took my bike along, and Forest Park was one of my destinations.  I entered the park on the north-east corner somewhere, cruised around for 15-20 minutes, and left fairly unimpressed.  At the time, I had no idea what I was missing.

Later, checking out Forest Park’s Wikipedia page, I learned that the park is over 50% larger than Central Park, at 1,293 acres.  I eventually discovered the bike path, too, and found it’s 7.5mi in length, a full 25% longer than the one at CP.  I was a little pissed at myself for having left so soon, without bothering to really look for the path, so I’ll have to make up for it next time I’m in town.

For anyone who might be looking for it, here’s a detailed map of the full bike path at Forest Park:

Click for larger image

And for anyone wondering just how much bigger Forest Park is compared to Central Park, I made this map using Google Earth, with CP laid over FP (both rotated east to west):

Click for larger image

FP is about 2mi long and 1mi wide, while CP is 1.6mi long, and .6mi wide.  At the end of the day, though, I’d still rather spend my time in CP.  The park is far livelier, with hotdog vendors, horse and buggy rides, and a few thousand people sharing the bike paths and sidewalks.  Forest Park seems a bid deserted, on the other hand.