Did you know that you don't have to run on pavement in Central Park!? It recently came to my (Jessica) attention that this is not widely known by everyone, so I'm here to inform (or remind) you about the Bridal Path. It is a little hidden gem in Central Park that offers more shade and significantly less people than the main running loop and it's dirt! Check out the picture above that I took last Saturday at 9am - there's no one on it!
Also, unlike the bridal path in Prospect Park, which is hard to run and truly for horses, the bridal path in Central Park is definitely runner friendly. Similar to its neighbor, the road, it's packed with undulating hills that are great for training. If you run the full bridal path loop, you can get almost 4 miles of trails.
If you're running counterclockwise around the park, enter the bridal path at the south-eastern corner of the reservoir. Stay on the lower trail that circles the reservoir and then as it begins to break hard left, take a hard right turn to stay on the path parallel to the road. This winds you up and across the 102nd Street crossing (along a dirt path of course) and then you can follow the path all the way down the west side of the park until the Columbus Circle exit. Here's a map of all the trails with the bridal path identified by the white dots.
Next time you're in Central Park, take the less traveled and more serene route along the bridal path. It's amazing.