Outdoor Gainesville.

Gainesville Travel Blog

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The way towards the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.

I have to admit, while I was attending UF I did fall in love with Gainesville. Forget the crap about the cost of living being cheaper then in South Florida, cause its not. And if you can get over the notion of Gainesville being a small city thinking its a big city, you're fine. But the campus and the surrounding areas are awesome. There are only so many things you can do in a college town...study, party, attend games, find cheap foods, and explore.

And only a couple miles south of campus is Paynes Praire Preserve. Depending on the year, this place can be pretty awesome to walk around in. During the 1800s, this place was flooded and steam boats use to routinely travel up and down it.

During the wet season.
Since then, a huge sink hole opened up and drained it completely. And it stayed that way for a long time. Then about ten years ago it started to fill up again. But then it would lower again. Some years are great and some not so great. This area has biking paths, trails for horses, camp sites, observation tower, and roaming bisons (which I never saw).

Part of the preserve is the La Chua Trail. This trail ends at an observation tower that lets you over look the wetlands. Its only a couple of miles long and very easy to walk. If the area is super flooded then you can only walk about a hundred yards pass the start of the trail. In which case, all you'll get to see is the Alachua Sink. Which is a big sink hole that has filled with water.

On the other end of the preserve is the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.

An overlook near the start of the G-H Trail.
This is an 18 mile biking path, which you guessed it...connects Gainesville to the town of Hawthorne. When I first did the trail, you had to do it on a mountain bike mainly because the whole trail was unpaved. Since then its been paved and is pretty easy to do. There are several places to stop and rest and check out the surrounding areas. And there are some hills, but lets face it you're in Florida still. So the hills aren't that bad. And to be honest, once you get pass the 12 mile mark there really isn't much to see. I however, think the trail was more scenic before they paved it. Back then it wandered through farmlands and near more creeks.

But one of the best times to see the area during alligator mating season. Or worse depending on how bad you are at walking in the woods with hundreds of gators around you. You'll hear little chirping/clicking sounds from everywhere. And you might even see some baby gators. But be warned, its the mommy gators that you need to keep an eye out for. Especially when the trail is overgrown. I made the mistake of looking at some baby gators, then stepping over some weeds only to see a big mommy gator not even four feet away. Talking about scaring the crap out of Maureen...I've seen her move so fast. Trust me, you have to be careful.

So enjoy the photos. Its a mixture of eveything (some I took, others I didn't)...the trail paved and unpaved, the La Chua Trail, both dry and wet seasons, and lots of gators.

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The way towards the Gainesville-Ha…
The way towards the Gainesville-H…
During the wet season.
During the wet season.
An overlook near the start of the …
An overlook near the start of the…
The back side of the Alachua Sink …
The back side of the Alachua Sink…
A fellow just sunning himself.
A fellow just sunning himself.
Photo from a ranger, cause the are…
Photo from a ranger, cause the ar…
The tower is much nicer when you h…
The tower is much nicer when you …
Lucky for the turtle hes too big …
Lucky for the turtle he's too big…
The start of the trail.
The start of the trail.
The education hut at the beginning…
The education hut at the beginnin…
Again during the wet season.
Again during the wet season.
Like I said, lots of gators.
Like I said, lots of gators.
Some birds youll see along the wa…
Some birds you'll see along the w…
A bird drying itself.
A bird drying itself.
If you look, youll see some baby …
If you look, you'll see some baby…
High water level during the wet se…
High water level during the wet s…
This is a small one :-)
This is a small one :-)
Maureen outside of the education b…
Maureen outside of the education …
The result of a very wet season.
The result of a very wet season.
Start of the trail. This is as far…
Start of the trail. This is as fa…
Maureen and her little friend.
Maureen and her little friend.
Lucky for me the gators are on the…
Lucky for me the gators are on th…
As close as I was gotten get witho…
As close as I was gotten get with…
The first stop on the G-H Trail.
The first stop on the G-H Trail.
Mauren loves wild flowers.
Mauren loves wild flowers.
The paved trail with some wild dee…
The paved trail with some wild de…
My little friend.
My little friend.
Did I mention I hate snakes.
Did I mention I hate snakes.
The Alachua Sink.
The Alachua Sink.
Birds cleaning themselves.
Birds cleaning themselves.
I think they are done cleaning the…
I think they are done cleaning th…
Cool shot with a zoom lens.
Cool shot with a zoom lens.
Another thing to watch out for.
Another thing to watch out for.
These guys are pretty safe to walk…
These guys are pretty safe to wal…
These guys, not so much.
These guys, not so much.
More bird shots.
More bird shots.
Another bird drying himself.
Another bird drying himself.
I did mention these guys are dange…
I did mention these guys are dang…
Wading bird.
Wading bird.
Thank goodness for zoom lens.
Thank goodness for zoom lens.
This guys isnt poisonous, but I a…
This guys isn't poisonous, but I …
Around the 5 mile mark.
Around the 5 mile mark.
Start of the dry season.
Start of the dry season.
Water level is about 5 feet lower …
Water level is about 5 feet lower…
The Alachua Sink during the dry se…
The Alachua Sink during the dry s…
When the G-H Trail was unpaved. My…
When the G-H Trail was unpaved. M…
Trust me, there are gators on my s…
Trust me, there are gators on my …
Again during the dry season.
Again during the dry season.
Gators during the wet season.
Gators during the wet season.
During the dry season, not so gree…
During the dry season, not so gre…
Wet season with gators floating.
Wet season with gators floating.
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photo by: jdsgos