Walking The High Line in New York
Location: West side of New York City (10th Avenue between 8th & 33rd Streets)
When to visit: Open 7 am to 10 pm daily (7 am to 11 pm during summer; 7 am to 7 pm during winter)
Time needed: 30 minutes
My new favorite place in New York City is the High Line, a neighborhood park that sits on an abandoned elevated rail track on the west side of Manhattan in the Chelsea neighborhood. The walking trail is currently 1.45 miles long, so it’s perfect for those who want to escape the frantic pace of NYC and take a leisurely stroll.
I highly recommend that any NYC visitor do a High Line walk while they’re in town! It’s a funky park perfect for people watching and getting a taste of nature in one of the biggest urban landscapes in the world.
History of the High Line NYC Walkway and the Abandoned Railroad Tracks
The abandoned tracks were used from 1934 to 1980. Trains used to carry meat and produce to the Meatpacking District. It took until 2009 before the High Line was finally turned into a green space for the public.
The High Line opened in 2009, and it has seen a few expansions since then. In 2011, it was extended northward from W. 20th St. to W. 30th St. A 2014 expansion looped the trail to 12th Ave. and 34th St. A short “Spur” section was added in 2019 along 30th St. that leads walkers to the park’s largest planted garden and an art plaza with exhibits that rotate every 18 months.
There’s lots of vegetation up here in planting pots. Rain water drains into the planting beds, so it was designed with the environment in mind.
One of my favorite parts is the collection of movable wooden benches which roll along the old train tracks.
Other cities have copied the High Line model for their own elevated railway paths, most notably Chicago, which now has the 606 (Bloomingdale) Trail.
High Line Entrances: Where to Access the Famous Manhattan Attraction
Since the High Line first opened, they’ve added quite a few access points. Current High Line entrances can be found at: Gansevoort St., 14th St., 16th St., 17th St., 20th St., 23rd St., 26th St., 28th St., 30th St. and 10th Ave., 30th St. and 11th Ave., and 34th St.
The High Line is totally wheelchair accessible once you’re up there, but you’ll need to use the 34th St. entrance to find the wheelchair ramp. There are also elevator entrances for the High Line at the access points on Gansevoort St., 14th St., 16th St., and 30th St.
Here’s a High Line map from Google that shows the current layout of the trail:
A few more frequently asked questions about doing a High Line walk:
Are there bathrooms on the High Line? Yes, as of this writing you’ll find three. High Line bathrooms can be found at Gansevoort St., 16th St., and 30th St.
Are dogs allowed on the High Line in NYC? No, dogs have never been allowed on the High Line. Bummer for dog owners, but I can understand why – the park is narrow and can get crowded enough already.
Beyond that, the High Line notes that dogs might cause damage to the landscape and the planting beds. Dog waste can damage the soil and kill plants, so no pups are allowed up there.
Is there a lawn to sit on? Yes, there is one grassy area for sitting and playing. You can find the High Line Lawn at 23rd St. Feel free to bring food and have a picnic. One important note: The lawn is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Is there somewhere to buy food on the High Line? During the summer months, yes. There are vendors along the path. In the winter, the only food is found at Santina restaurant at Gansevoort St. & Washington St.
Are there any special events held on the High Line? Yes, lots! Many occur during the warmer summer months, but there are winter events too. There are flower and history tours, as well as performances, lectures, and family festivals. See the list of upcoming events here.
High Line Walk New York: More Photos from the Elevated Walkway
Part of the line runs directly over 10th Avenue, and they’ve conveniently built in a viewing deck and bleachers to allow visitors to sit and watch the action below.
It’s funny how the elevated track abruptly ends by going right into a building.
What are some of the must-see places on the High Line? Here are three worth checking out: The Chelsea Thicket, an area with dense trees and shrubbery between 21st & 22nd; the 14th St. Passage, a partially-enclosed area that shows videos related to art and history every evening; and the Falcone Flyover between 25th & 27th that allows High Line walkers to pass right by the treetops.
Again, the best part of all about the High Line is that it’s totally free. You can spend some time up here soaking in the atmosphere of Manhattan, doing some quality people-watching, and burning some calories at the same time.
And if you’re seeking other cool NYC budget activities, check out another free attraction, the Irish Hunger Memorial, as well as my guide for seeing the Statue of Liberty via the Staten Island Ferry.
Have you ever done a High Line walk while visiting New York City?