Crandon Park is located in the island of Key Biscayne, Florida, and boasts a beautiful white sand beach extending two miles. It also has a great running path, peppered with water fountains and has become one of my favorite places to train. And I am in good company as many triathlons and road races are held right there. Today, I am going to show you three miles of running that you can have inside Crandon Park. Each is a bit different and you can combine them to create a 5k, 10k or anything in-between.
I happen to live nearby so I actually run into the park. On foot, you do not have to pay any park fees. Score!
As you come in, on the right hand side you will see a gate that leads you to the Old Zoo the first mile of our run today.
Mile One – The Old Zoo
True story. There were some animals stranded from a circus in Miami that went out of business. They found a home at the Crandon Park Zoo and lived here until 1981 when Zoo Miami was thankfully opened and all the animals moved there. All except for some crocs, who make this their home. So you will see signs like this throughout, though its highly unlikely you will actually come in contact with a crocodile.
This part of Crandon Park is now called the quiet garden. It’s a place to walk through and take in the beauty around you. It is quiet indeed and what you will most likely hear are peacocks.
On any given day, you can also find ducks, egrets, herons, and iguanas. The path loops around the garden and you will pass lakes, lookouts and interesting trees.
But my favorite part is running by the old “cages”.
These are tiny, tiny spaces where the animals used to live. I cannot imagine them squished in there and am so grateful they are all at a better home in Zoo Miami. But the drawings on the walls are interesting, colorful and I always get a kick out of them.
Because of all the birds and animals in the quiet garden, I tend not to refuel in those water fountains, but if you follow the path, you will leave the area and start the second mile leading you to the beach.
MILE 2: The Beach
Crandon Park’s beach is simply spectacular and ranked one of the top public beaches in the US. It is simply beautiful and I’ve seen many, many photo shoots being set up against this backdrop. Fortunately for runners, there is a path that goes along a good part of the beach. It is wide enough for everyone to use and its breathtaking. It’s quite difficult not feel on vacation and weird to think that just a few miles away, a sprawling urban center is conducting business as usual.
After the curve above, the road leads you to the parking lot where the Nature Center is located. The beach itself continues on but it is a preserve and home to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Nature Center. You could, in theory, run there but I dislike running on the soft sand. The only downfall of this mile is that it is hot. The wide open road and ocean views are beautiful but there is no shade. There are several water fountain stops but depending on the time of the year this mile might not be the best idea. The temptation is to run into the ocean, but alas, we must keep moving.
Mile 3: The Hidden Path
After running along the beach and through the parking lot, you arrive at the third mile which I named: the hidden path. At first it is clear and visible, but as it winds through the north end of Crandon Park it becomes more narrow and surrounded by lush vegetation. The path, used mostly by runners and cruiser bikes, lies parallel to the causeway shared by road bikes and cars. Between the causeway and the path are just a few feet of bushes. Through the quiet, at times you hear voices and conversations that are held by the road bikes on the other side of the trees. They are completely unaware there is someone just a few feet away.
Because of the vegetation, the path provides some respite from the sun. However, it is quite isolated and at times I have an eerie feeling someone or something is watching. I only run on this path during the weekends and broad daylight, but that fear helps me hit a faster pace. There are also no water fountains here so you need to plan for at least two miles which in the Miami heat, is something you really need to account for.
The mile ends where the path meets the causeway at the entrance of Crandon Park.
Here you have several options. You can do a U-Turn and complete the same beautiful path for a total of six miles, or you can continue running over Bear Cut Bridge towards Miami and another approximate three miles of seaside road. Either way, Crandon Park provides an incredibly diverse and scenic route, which I am fortunate to enjoy often. If you are ever in town and are headed that way give me a shout and let me know if this becomes one of your favorites too!