When I turn off Washington Road and feel my steps soften on the dirt path, all the stress from schoolwork, rowing practice, and my other obligations gradually melts away. I feel my chest open and remember how calming it is simply to focus on breathing. Jogging along, I adjust to the landscape of abundant greenery and water so still that I keep waiting for it to break. I navigate around geese, sending them into a frenzy; see chipmunks dart across the road a few feet in front of me; and, with luck, glimpse a turtle sunning on a rock. Though I remain within walking distance of campus, I feel miles away.

Like any Princeton student, I sometimes find myself wanting to escape. From my starting point at the boathouse, the towpath stretches for miles in each direction. Going south, I run past the canoe-rental shop and through the golf course. Each time I reach these landmarks, I am reminded of the world that lies just beyond campus but within grasp, if I simply take the time to explore and engage.

Every time I hit the well-trodden dirt road, I feel mentally transported, hypnotized by the natural beauty. Alone with my thoughts, I let myself stop to soak in the stillness. The towpath offers sanctuary from the constant motion on campus, and it reminds me to keep everything up the hill in perspective. 

More Favorite Places

Nikita Dutta GS, Tiger and Tigress, Adams Mall

Gabriel Fisher ’17, Atrium, Princeton University Art Museum

Jennifer Shyue ’17, Murray-Dodge Café

Emily Erdos ’19, Class of 1887 Boathouse

Nina Sheridan ’19, Public Table

Alexandra Markovich ’17, Track and Field Locker Room, Caldwell Field House

Matthew Silberman ’17, Common Room, Whitman College

Hayley Roth ’17, The Chapel

Megan Laubach ’18, Science Fiction Library, Forbes College

Kevin Cheng ’17, Dante Room (East Pyne 111)

Mary Hui ’17, Cleveland Tower, Graduate College

Photographs by Ricardo Barros