c. Paul Martinka

Free Winter Wellness in Prospect Park

January 3, 2024

Ward off the winter blues this season by exploring your park and getting active. Spending time in nature has known positive impacts on mental and physical health–and winter is no exception. Research shows that being in nature in all seasons can improve focus, lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, boost your immune system, accelerate recovery from illness, and increase energy levels so you can kick off 2024 feeling like your best self.

Enjoy opportunities to get active, take in the serenity of the season and explore your park with a variety of free fun wellness opportunities for all ages:

Upbeat Pop! Dance Fitness at the Boathouse

Saturdays through February
Prospect Park Boathouse
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Shape-up NYC for a 45-minute dance fitness class! Come prepared to shake, roll, grapevine, and clap to your favorite upbeat pop songs. We will use this time to cultivate joy and silliness while getting a great workout and reaping the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. Whether you want to learn some new choreography or need a space to step-touch and sing, this class is for you!

Introduction to Birdwatching Outings

Saturdays through May
Prospect Park Boathouse
Whether you’re just starting out or have already joined the birding ranks, this introductory outing is for you! Every Saturday, join Prospect Park Alliance and a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club on an introductory walk to learn the basics of birding and search for the dozens of species that visit Prospect Park through all seasons. All levels are welcome and walks will begin at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. No registration necessary. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring binoculars if you have them.

Take a Winter Walk in Prospect Park

Winter brings a serene stillness to the park that makes this season unlike any other. Check out the Alliance’s recommendation for the perfect winter walking route: one that will take you to Lookout Hill, one of the highest points in Brooklyn, with unparalleled views of the city and beyond. Plus, see some scenic sights on your route? Share them with us by tagging us in your winter walking photos on social media @prospect_park!

Try Ice Skating

Open Daily
LeFrakCenter at Lakeside
Get your heart rate up, brush up on skills, or pick up a brand new hobby at LeFrak Center at Lakeside’s two open air ice skating rinks! Whether you’re interested in skating lessons, hockey, or trying out curling, there is something for everyone to glide into 2024 with health, wellness and fun in mind.

Volunteer in the Park

Wednesdays through February
Locations Vary
Get active while lending a hand to your park at a Winter Corps volunteer session! Join Prospect Park Alliance every Wednesday through February 28 for a fun filled way to give back and explore Brooklyn’s Backyard. Volunteers will assist in raking, minor shoveling, trail mulching, and other landscaping needs throughout Prospect Park.

c. Jordan Rathkopf

Free Fall Wellness Opportunities in Prospect Park

September 6, 2023

Ever wonder what exactly it is about a walk in the park that makes you feel more at ease? Spending time in nature, green spaces, and specifically forests have known positive impacts on mental and physical health, and the benefits don’t stop at stress reduction alone. Research shows that being in nature can improve focus, lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality, boost your immune system, accelerate recovery from illness, and increase energy levels.

This fall, put wellness first and enjoy fun opportunities to get active and explore your park with a variety of free wellness opportunities for all ages:

Free Fitness Walks in Prospect Park for Adults Ages 60+
Tuesdays, September 12, 19 + 26, RSVP Required: prospectpark.org/FreeFitnessWalks
Locations Vary
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Heights and Hills for three group walks in Prospect Park for adults ages 60 and over. Center Director Matt Abrams and members of the center will explore the park while discussing the importance of exercise and movement for adults over 60, particularly for people experiencing arthritis. Participants will receive guidance on developing their own personal walking and exercise programs.

Nature Exploration Family Nature Walks
Saturdays + Sundays, September – November
Prospect Park Boathouse + Audubon Center
Visit the Prospect Park Audubon Center for Nature Exploration on weekends to enjoy nature education activities including a family nature walk where all ages can explore the park and search for the many species of wildlife that call the park home.

Upbeat Pop! Dance Fitness at the Boathouse
Saturdays, August – February
Prospect Park Boathouse + Audubon Center
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Shape-up NYC for a 45-minute dance fitness class! Come prepared to shake, roll, grapevine, and clap to your favorite upbeat pop songs. We will use this time to cultivate joy and silliness while getting a great workout and reaping the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. Whether you want to learn some new choreography or need a space to step-touch and sing, this class is for you!

Take a Fall Foliage Walk or Run
Prospect Park’s fall hues will soon be in full swing! Prospect Park offers miles of roadway and paths to explore and take in the change of seasons.  Visit our Running and Walking hub for information about Running Clubs, itineraries for seeing the park on-the-go, and much more.


Want to invite friends and family to join the fun and learn about the health benefits of nature? Send an Rx for Nature Today!

June is Health + Wellness Month!

May 31, 2023

Did you know that time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health?

Prospect Park Alliance is kicking off our Summer of Stewardship with exciting opportunities to Be a Park Champion and care for your park, while making the most of the health and wellness benefits offered by nature.

Show friends and family that you care for them and your park: send a loved one an Rx For Nature and enjoy the health benefits of nature together with one of these fun activities:


While enjoying nature, don’t forget to Be a Park Champion by carrying out everything you bring into the park, staying on paved or wood-chipped trails, and admiring the wildlife from a safe distance.

Learn more at prospectpark.org/champion and send an Rx for Nature today!

National Trails Day in Prospect Park

Be a Park Champion this National Trails Day in Prospect Park! Saturday, June 3, is the 31st annual National Trails Day, a day to celebrate your local trails alongside community members and pledge to leave your trail better than you found it every day of the year.

Prospect Park’s 585 acres are home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. These 250 acres of scenic woodlands, sustained by Prospect Park Alliance, are not only essential to the health of the park and the wildlife that call it home, but are also a source of wellness for our community.

Time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health, and getting out on the trails in Brooklyn’s Backyard is a wonderful way to reap these benefits. To make the most of all these trails have to offer, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) members share some of their favorite routes and tips for walkers and runners of all levels.

To join the National Trails Day movement, boost your health by taking a walk or run through one of Prospect Park’s scenic trails, and lend a hand to keep these woodland areas pristine and healthy. Be a Park Champion while enjoying the park’s natural beauty, by staying on paved or wood chip paths, keeping dogs leashed in woodland areas, admiring wildlife from a safe distance, and taking nothing from the park with you.

“What makes running or walking on Prospect Park’s trails so special are the unexpected delights—finding little waterfalls, coming upon a familiar part of the park from a different angle and taking a moment before you quite realize where you are,” said Lisa Knauer, one of PPTC’s Race Directors. “One of my favorite routes is climbing up Lookout Hill on a clear day and catching a glimpse of Coney Island.”

Another must-see walking or running route begins starting from Grand Army Plaza. Take the eastern pathway to the Endale Arch into the Long Meadow and follow along the hex-block path on the east side of the Long Meadow. Follow the path until it forks at a tall oak tree, and take the path on the left into the woodlands. Follow the trail until you reach another fork, and take the wide stone steps on your left and then turn right down another set of steps. At the bottom you’ll find the little-known Boulder Bridge, a historic bridge that was recreated by the Alliance in the 1990s as part of the larger restoration of the Ravine. The view from this bridge is one of the most scenic in the park. After enjoying the view, return to the path and continue to the right of Boulder Bridge, down a few more steps. At the bottom you will find a small octagonal footprint of a structure where an old rustic shelter once stood. Take in the view of the gorge below, and then continue down the steps until you reach Rock Arch Bridge and Ambergill Falls, one of several waterfalls that were designed by park creators Olmsted and Vaux. Continue down the path until it forks, and then turn right and head up the sloping path back toward the Long Meadow and enjoy the towering trees and wildlife sightings along the way.

You also won’t want to miss recent scenic additions in the heart of Prospect Park’s woodlands—including a rustic trail just off Center Drive thanks to the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, whose vital restoration work transformed this part of the park. This trail now offers park goers a chance to see the top of the Lullwater, a view of Brooklyn’s Backyard that was previously inaccessible to park visitors.

As part of the Prospect Park Alliance’s woodland restoration work in the Vale, the team also installed a new rustic rail trail, which leads visitors to two sites that are currently being restored: the Rose Garden to the Children’s Pool, inviting visitors to take a meandering route through the woods while staying on path.

“Right in Brooklyn’s Backyard, exploring the trails in Prospect Park can make you feel a world away from the busy city,” said PPTC Board member Katie Claiborne. By making the most of your time in nature, staying active and practicing good stewardship this National Trails Day and every day, you are helping Brooklyn’s wildlife and community thrive.

Ready to get out on the trail and #BeAParkChampion? Learn more about programs offered by Prospect Park Track Club in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Plus, enjoy family-friendly nature walks at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

c. Martin Seck

Cold-Weather Running Tips

October 17, 2019

Winter is approaching, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop running in the park! Prospect Park Alliance teamed up with our friends at New York Road Runners to bring you tips for cold-weather running so you can stay in fighting form for upcoming races. Use these tips in the lead up to the 2020 United Airlines NYC Half, taking place on March 15, 2020 starting right here in Prospect Park. The application period for this race is now open and runs through November 13.

Wear synthetic fabrics and layer your clothing. In the cold, keep most of your body covered. The fabric closest to your skin should be synthetic and preferably sweat-wicking and it should fit snugly. Your outermost layer should be wind-resistant and waterproof if it’s raining or snowing. If you plan to race in the cold, it’s smart to test everything that you plan to wear in advance to make sure it’s warm enough and comfortable to race in.

Respect your body and your limits. Cold temperatures restrict blood flow, which can cause muscles to contract and even cramp. You may feel stiff and tight, especially as you begin a run, and if you try to force the pace, you may damage a muscle. Adjust your pace to allow your body extra time to warm up.

Don’t forget to drink. In cold weather, it’s easy—and unsafe—to overlook your fluid needs. Your body is still sweating, so replenish your fluids appropriately. Prospect Park Alliance’s new freeze-resistant fountains are year-round hydration stations, so make sure to take advantage of them while you run!

Protect your face, head, and extremities. Wear a hat and gloves, preferably of synthetic, wicking material, and in extreme cold, use a face mask or scarf to cover your neck and face. Wind increases the effects of the cold; you may risk a mild form of frostbite called “frost nip” on unprotected areas if it’s near-freezing and windy. Apply a sweat-resistant sport moisturizer and lip balm for extra protection. 

Shorten your stride in snow, ice, sleet, or heavy rain. If there is snow, ice, or excessive water on the ground, shorten your stride slightly and pay attention to your footing and the runners around you to avoid accidents. Ice creates a much greater danger of a slip-and-fall, which can send you to the hospital with a broken bone. If you race in this kind of weather, don’t expect to run a personal best; instead, plan for a safe race.

Take care of yourself after your run. Get inside right away; although you’ll feel warm just after completing a run, you will chill quickly. Keep moving, and get inside as soon as you can. For a race in the wet or cold, have warm clothing on hand post-race. This includes dry socks, warm sweatpants, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt and/or jacket, gloves, and a warm hat. 

Learn more about running in Prospect Park, and check out NYRR’s Group Training, coach-led workouts that meet at Grand Army Plaza on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Upcoming sessions kick off in November and January.

See you on the loop!

c. Paul Martinka

Prospect Park’s New Freeze-Resistant Fountains

November 23, 2018

Runners rejoice! On Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 2018, New York City Council Member Brad Lander joined Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue for the inaugural gulp from the park’s new freeze-resistant drinking fountains. Council Member Lander funded this $175,000 project through the District 39 participatory budgeting initiative that has enabled the Alliance to install four fountains along the Prospect Park Drive that are freeze-resistant and available through all four seasons.

fountain-lander-martinka.jpgCouncil Member Brad Lander and Alliance President Sue Donoghue try out the new freeze-resistant fountain. c. Paul Martinka

The event took place on Prospect Park’s lakeshore, moments before the Prospect Park Track Club’s annual Turkey Trot, which took place this year in historic sub-zero temperatures. Prospect Park offers miles of roadways and paths for serious and recreational runners and walkers, including the park’s 3.36-mile running lane along the Park Drive.

“I’m thrilled that the freeze resistant water fountains, a 2016 participatory budgeting project winner, are finally up and running in Prospect Park,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The many runners, cyclists, and walkers who exercise in the park during the winter months will now be able to hydrate even in the coldest weather! Huge thanks to the Prospect Park Alliance for their help in seeing this project through.”

Due to problems posed by frozen pipes, traditional city drinking fountains are turned off during much of the fall and winter months. This leaves the multitudes of Prospect Park’s runners, walkers and visitors without a source of drinking water in the park.

The year-round fountains’ plumbing is located more than four feet underground—below the “frost line,” where the water is well insulated and does not freeze. Each time the fountain is used, the water drains all the way back down, preventing frozen pipes. This feature necessitates that users hold the button down for a few additional seconds than at a traditional fountain, giving the water time to make it up to surface-level.

A total of four new year-round fountains will grace the Park Drive—two entirely new fountains near the Garfield Street Entrance and the Vanderbilt Street Playground, as well as two retrofitted existing fountains near the Parkside entrance and the Ballfields. 

Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that operates the park in partnership with the City. We provide critical staff and resources that keep the park green and vibrant. Through the end of 2018, support the park and your donation will count double thanks to a matching challenge.

Learn more about projects in the park on our Capital Projects Tracker.

Take a Run in Prospect Park

September 12, 2018

Prospect Park is an amazing destination for runners and walkers, right in Brooklyn’s Backyard. 

Prospect Park features a 3.36-mile running lane along the Park Drive, which went car-free in 2018. The park’s 585 acres feature miles of trails and pathways that transverse hills, meadows and even picturesque waterways, maintained by Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit organization that provides critical staff and resources that keep the park green and vibrant. This varied landscape is the perfect place to test your mettle and push yourself in your next run.

“Prospect Park is a great change from the crowded Central Park,” says Steve Mura, manager of runner training & education at New York Road Runners and also an NYRR Group Training coach in Prospect Park. “The 3.36-mile Park Drive loop offers a change of terrain as well as scenery,” says Mura, “and you can further change it up by cutting through Center Drive or Wells House Drive.”

Want to train on a trail less traveled? “There are some great trails in the park that will loop you around the inner area,” says Mura. “Get lost trying to find some historical area of the park, like Lookout Hill, the highest point in the park, with great views of Brooklyn—you might even be able to see Coney Island; Harry’s Wall, which honors Prospect Park Track Club co-founder Harry Murphy; and Cleft Ridge Span, a decorative concrete arch that dates back to 1872.”

Ready to push yourself? “That Battle Pass hill is a challenge! Run by effort,” advises Mura. “Your pace will slow down, but that effort level should stay the same. On the downhill, watch your effort. You want to stay controlled down the hill and stay in your rhythm.” 

Ready to get out in the park? Take a look at Prospect Park Alliance’s downloadable running map with mileage and distances in Prospect Park, then check out NYRR’s 3-mile Prospect Park running route, which passes 10 different points of interest in the park. For everything else, head to prospectpark.org/running.

c. Brittany Buongiorno

Doctor’s Orders: A Walk in the Park

January 1, 2018

Should doctors be handing out prescriptions for a walk in the Park? Increasingly, studies suggest that a dose of nature does a body good. Bestselling author Florence Williams and New York Times health columnist Jane E. Brody report on the science behind what many of us know intuitively: that enjoying the outdoors makes us happier and healthier.

Luckily for those of us who live in Brooklyn, access to nature has been central to the development of our borough over a century. Chartered in 1834,  Brooklyn became the nation’s third largest city within thirty years. The resulting crowds and unsanitary conditions prompted the first American attempts at urban planning, with public green space seen as a health necessity more than an aesthetic one. James T. Stranahan, a business and civic leader, spearheaded the creation of Prospect Park as head of the Brooklyn Parks Commissioners, overseeing the Park’s creation from inception to completion with designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In the early 1860s, Stranahan argued that a park in Brooklyn “would become a favorite resort for all classes of our community, enabling thousands to enjoy pure air, with healthful exercise, at all seasons of the year…”

Today, Prospect Park’s lush 585 acres include 250 acres of woodlands—Brooklyn’s last remaining forest—and also the borough’s only lake, which are sustained by Prospect Park Alliance’s dedicated crews of horticulturalists, arborists and forest ecologists. Anyone who has explored one of the Park’s nature trails, or enjoyed a stroll along the watercourse, can attest to its restorative powers, but what is the science behind this?

For her new book Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and more Creative, Florence Williams traveled across the globe to report on cutting-edge studies that provide concrete links between exposure to nature and health. In one study, an Essex-based environmental economist launched an app that mapped participants’ happiness against their location and found that we are “significantly and substantially happier outdoors…” Further east in Japan, a team of researchers gathering statistical evidence to back up the Biophilia theory, which states that humans experience lower stress levels in nature because we evolved in the natural world. And in Utah, neuroscientists are quantifying how exposure to nature can increase cognitive sharpness and even combat attention disorders.

During her 42 years as the Personal Health Columnist at The New York Times, Jane E. Brody has regularly reported on how a lack of physical activity can cause a host of health issues including childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and vitamin D deficiency. She has linked these issues to a decline in time spent outdoors, warning against the dangers of “Outdoor Deprivation Disorder.” But, according to Brody, the benefits of outdoor activity are becoming more widely acknowledged throughout the medical community, “a growing number of like-minded doctors have begun writing specific prescriptions for outdoor activity.”

The conclusion seems simple–if modern scientific data tells us that getting outside is good for our health, then we should make a point to venture outdoors on a regular basis. In Nature Fix, Williams recommends getting “quick bursts” of the natural world, and where better to do this than in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Join Prospect Park Alliance and its community partners for a variety of free and low-cost recreation and nature education activities year round. The Park boasts a 3.35-mile path for runners and bikers, the Long Meadow Ball Fields, the Parade Ground, the state-of-the-art LeFrak Center at Lakeside and a year-round Tennis Center. The Alliance also offers more than 800 public programs each year throughout the Park, which engage nearly 75,000 visitors. With so much exciting activity and stunning landscape, it is no wonder that the Park attracts more than 10 million visits each year.


Hidden Winter Gems

January 20, 2016

Winter is a magical time in Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard. While thousands like to flock to the Park for sled riding and snowball fights, we encourage you to tap into the Park’s natural beauty and explore a path less traveled. Below, Prospect Park Alliance staff share how they would spend their perfect winter day in the Park. For best results, mix with lots of hot chocolate.

The Rose Garden:  Though no longer home to many roses, this picturesque landscape in the northeast corner of the Park is one of its less frequented areas. “After a snowfall, odds are yours can be the first set of footprints,” said Alliance Arborist Ryan Gellis. While exploring the area, keep an eye and ear out for songbirds perched in the snow-covered evergreen yews.

Lookout Hill: Aptly named for its spectacular vistas of Brooklyn and beyond, it is well worth the short hike to the summit, the Park’s highest point. “In the winter when all of the leaves are off the trees, you can see all the way to Coney Island,” notes Maria Carrasco, Vice President of Public Programs. “You can even make out the historic Parachute Jump.”

The Lullwater: This landscape takes its name from the calm branch of the Prospect Park Lake it encompasses. Tucked away amidst woodlands, and buffered from outside noise, a walk across its spectacular bridge “is about as peaceful and quiet as it gets,” recommends Jessica Jamhoury, Director of the Volunteer Program.

The Long Meadow: Director of Individual Giving Kate Davis loves “the experience of walking or running through untouched snow.” As one of the Park’s most popular destinations, the Long Meadow is hardly a secret; but start your morning with the sunrise following a snowstorm, and you might just leave the first footprints on this longest stretch of unbroken meadow in any urban park.

Boulder Bridge: A favorite spot of John Jordan, Director of Landscape Management, Boulder Bridge spans the bridle path, and offers great views of the surrounding woodlands. Tucked between the Ravine and Midwood, the bridge itself is also beautiful, especially following snowfall, when the boulders that make up the bridge become encased in snow.

PPA Profiles: Tom Meany

November 17, 2015

While many of the city’s runners are headed into the holidays with rest and rejuvenation on their minds, the same can’t be said for Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) President and lifelong Brooklynite Tom Meany. With the help of a team of dedicated volunteers, Meany is busy preparing for one of the most beloved events on Brooklyn’s running calendar, the Turkey Trot, which has been organized by the PPTC since 1995 and takes place on Thanksgiving Day.

For many Brooklyn families, the five-mile Turkey Trot is a holiday tradition, with a dedicated—and diverse—core of annual runners. “You have a lot of kids home from college, local high school runners, people dressed up like pilgrims and turkeys, and even people who only run one race each year, this one,” says Meany.

While this year’s race is sold out, it is well worth coming out to watch the runners and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Meany recommends fans arrive before the 9 am start, and come prepared to cheer. “The best area for spectators is right around the LeFrak Center at Lakeside,” he advises, “where you can see the two-mile mark as well as easily watch the finish.”

A nine-time New York City one-time Boston marathoner (“New York City’s better, no contest”), Meany’s passion for both running and Prospect Park are infectious, especially when speaking about the Park’s transformation in the years since the founding of the Alliance. When Track Club was founded in 1970, its namesake park was rarely utilized as a training ground. “Guys were afraid to go into the Park but there weren’t pedestrian lanes on the surrounding streets, it was chaos,” recalls Meany.

After years of working with the Alliance, most notably as a member of the Park’s community committee and on a road-sharing taskforce, Meany says club members now delight at the running oasis the Park has become. Not only does the 3.35-mile Drive and its rolling hills challenge athletes, but also, he says, “it’s just beautiful.”

The PPTC hosts races, group runs, social outings and more. Meany encourages those interested in joining PPTC to visit their website. Members range in experience from beginning runners to elite-level marathoners, and all are welcome.

Learn more about running in Prospect Park.