Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

Connecting the university town of Gainesville with rural Hawthorne, this 16.5-mile trail makes for a great day trip, complete with a hill or two and plenty of wildlife. While the path roughly parallels State Route 20, it also traverses one of Florida's most environmentally sensitive areas: Paynes Prairie State Preserve. Just south of Gainesville, the park—though not the trail—is accessible via US Highway 441.

The well-maintained trail accommodates users with a 10-foot-wide paved path, regular trailheads and benches and even a convenience store here and there. Between the Gainesville and Lochloosa trailheads, equestrians are given free rein on an adjacent grassy trail.

From its western endpoint in Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park, the trail soon leads to the Paynes Prairie overlook, and 2 miles from the trailhead you'll enter the preserve itself. This area boasted a thriving lake with routine steamboat activity until 1891, when a sinkhole drained the basin, leaving behind a mixed landscape of prairie, marsh and open water.

Several trailside overlooks offer views of the prairie, home to bison, wild horses and numerous alligators. Park regulations ban visitors from feeding the gators, and dogs are not permitted, even if leashed. Rangers strictly enforce these rules. A half-mile into the park, a side trip on the La Chua Trail leads to another viewing area; bicycles are not permitted on this unpaved spur.

The trail connects with the Waldo Road Greenway - Depot Avenue Rail-Trail - Kermit Sigmon Bike Trail.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Boulware Springs Park trailhead from downtown Gainesville, take University Avenue east, fork right on Route 20 and take the next right on SE 15th Street. Boulware Springs Park (3500 SE 15th Street) is a couple of miles down on the right. Follow signs to the trail.

To reach the Lochloosa trailhead (7209 SE 200th Drive) from Hawthorne, take Route 2082 west, then turn left on SE 200th Drive. Park where the trail intersects the road.

To reach the Hawthorne trailhead (300 SW Second Avenue), take US Highway 301 south through Hawthorne and follow the brown signs along residential streets to the trailhead.

Contact:
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
3300 SE 15 Street
Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 466-3397

Reviews

BEAUTIFUL!

   July, 2015 by sarah.marie.12.29.82

Parked in Rochelle and rode to Gainesville and back. I am new to biking and out of shape and this was a wonderful ride that did challenge me but in a good way! Plenty of gorgeous views, lots of picture taking. Bathrooms along the way. Views of Paynes ...read more

Gainesville weekend

   May, 2015 by blu109 2013

Stayed two nites at the Hampton Inn Downtown. Rode all the local trails including the UF campus. The Gainesville/Hawthorne is nicely shaded and has some curves and hills for fun. We had a blast. This is on my "do again" list. read more

How is parking at Rochelle?

   March, 2015 by rabner

I am planning to ride this trail in the near future. Can anyone tell me if parking is safe at Rochelle (intersection of CR 234 and CR 2082)? I would like to park there since it is near the midpoint. Is there a restroom there? Thanks! read more