Passing through at 3 miles per hour

Walkers on the annual Great Saunter get a brief respite from the rain as they pass under the West Side Highway in Riverside Park on Saturday. Photograph by Daniel Katzive.

By Daniel Katzive

Walkers on the Great Saunter, an annual 32-mile hike along the entire shoreline of Manhattan, passed through our neighborhood on Saturday morning, undeterred by the steady drenching rain which kept most of us out of the parks. They were about one fifth of the way through their effort to circumnavigate the whole island.

The annual event is run by Shorewalkers NYC, a non-profit group which describes its mission as “promoting and preserving New York City’s waterfront, as well as raising awareness of its shorelines by leading invigorating hikes throughout the metropolitan area.”

The walkers set out between 7 and 8am from Battery Park with an objective of having lunch at Inwood Hill Park. By 9:30am a steady stream of wet but determined hikers were moving through Riverside Park South, using the bike path and service road under the West Side Highway for an all-too-brief respite from the steady rain.

Walkers we spoke to estimated the full journey would take about twelve hours, though one told us that a fast walker could probably make the trip in around 9 hours.

The Shorewalkers website indicates this is the 35th year that the Great Saunter has been held and that registration for the event had sold out. The group indicates that historically about half of participants complete the entire circuit back to the Battery by the end of the day.

The Saunter, held on the first Saturday of May every year, is the principal event of the Shorewalkers group, but the organization also runs shorter walks in the area throughout the year, according to the website.

Google map of the route created by Shorewalkers NYC.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Joanna the Explorer says:

      I once cycled the island and that was interesting.

      I belong to a canoe club and am interested in paddling around the island but I understand that with the tides/currents and boat traffic, only very experienced paddlers can participate in that journey .

      I would like to do this hike. I never heard about it. Though why just once a year? They should do one in the fall and one in the spring.

      Thanks for the story. I enjoyed learning about this.

      • Diane Cimine says:

        hi Joanna and we DO hold a Saunter twice a year – next one is in October, called the Virtual Great Saunter. Visit https://shorewalkers.org/virtual-great-saunter/. In addition we hold hundreds of walks a year for our members, including many ‘Saunter Stretches’ – shorter segments of the full walk for those who may not want to do the full 32 mile distance!

    2. 'elpful 'enry 'ere says:

      Anyone interested in learning much more about Manhattan’s waterfront may want to read:
      1. “Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan”, a hardcover by Phillip Lopate; and/or
      2. “Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan”, a paperback by Phillip Lopate; and/or
      3. “Waterfront Manhattan: From Henry Hudson to the High Line” by Kurt Schlichting.
      The first two are in short-supply @Amazon, but there may be other vendors.
      The third is a great trove for history buffs.

    3. Jean Corvino says:

      I’ve never heard about this. It definitely sounds very interesting, like an adventure.

    4. Nelson says:

      Agreed: I would love to do this event! They should def do it multiple times a year for enthusiasts like us!

    5. Samuel Schrager says:

      I have run the NYC Marathon and the 5 Boros Bike Tour, but neither can hold a candle to the Great Saunter. You own the city when you complete this event.

    6. Doron says:

      I’ve done this walk four times in all kinds of weather and it truly is a challenge one can be very proud of! Not a race, you go at your own pace. For information on their walks go to showwalkers.org. They have walks scheduled in various places every weekend.

    7. Diane Cimine says:

      Thank you, Daniel Katzive, for this wonderful piece and please join us on a future Shorewalkers hike! We hold many throughout the year and they can be found here: https://www.meetup.com/shorewalkers-members-only/

    8. Karen Sutton says:

      Wow I wud luv to do this. Bucket list stuff. I live in Australia and luv ny.

    9. Ottilia says:

      I ran marathons and even ultras before, walked long distance but never walked 32 miles. It was my very first GS. Unfortunately the rain almost ruined the beauty of this walk but I still loved it. We will definitely do it again next year and we hope the weather will cooperate. It’s a great experience.

    10. Liz G says:

      My friend flew in from Miami from this for his birthday weekend, and we were determined to finish! We did, but oof my legs are still feeling it (more from the elements than the distance.) Normally this is a pleasure walk and you can see tons of street life as well as architecture and plants. Not so this year. 2022 will forever go down as the Endurance Saunter. I’ve never made it to any of their other walks but everyone is so friendly and encouraging, it’s a lovely group and a really cool NYC tradition!

    11. Mark says:

      Remembering with fondness late Upper West Sider Cy Adler, who was among the founders of Shore Walkers and the Great Saunter.