Walk on the Wild Side: 4 Hikes Near Gainesville

  Jan 9   Outdoors

Getting yourself into nature is a short drive away from campus. Take a walk on the wild side with these 4 hikes near Gainesville:

1)  Morningside Nature Center

This nature park features miles of marked trails along boardwalks and through pine forests. There are picnic tables and a large pavilion, as well as a small historic village where you can learn about Florida life as it was 130 years ago! You can visit farm animals, chew on some sugar cane or learn about blacksmithing. There is no fee to enter this park, so enjoy it at your own pace. 

Location: 3540 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32641

2) Bolen Bluff Trail 

Marked as one of Alachua County's best birding sites, the Bolen Bluff Trail gives you a couple of options for a nice hike. The upper part of the trail is covered by many types of trees including laurels, live oaks, water oaks, chestnut oaks and magnolias. As the trail winds down to the Payne's Prairie basin, you can take the spur trail which leads you through tall grasses to an observation tower overlooking the prairie. The trail to the observation tower is approximately 1.5 miles roundtrip. The fee is $4 per vehicle. 

Location: From campus, go south on 441; just after you cross the Prairie, look for brown signs on the left.

Photo by:  Rex Rowan

3) Barr Hammock Preserve

Across the street from the south shore entrance of Lake Wauburg is Wacahoota Road. On this road, you’ll see signs for Barr Hammock Preserve. Once there, you’ll find an incredible 6.5-mile loop hike along an unpaved levy which circles a 1,200-acre wet prairie. This is a great place to see birds and other wildlife.  Bring some water and snacks! There is no fee to enter. 

Location: 14920 SE 11th Dr, Micanopy, FL 32667

4) Sweetwater Wetlands Park 

This park offers trails of gravel and boardwalk. It’s home to a wide variety of wetland birds, like herons, limpkins and osprey. The 125-acre park was created to improve the water quality of Paynes Prairie and the Floridian Aquifer. Go here and enjoy the scenery while learning about water quality and wetland environments.  The entry fee is $5 per vehicle, or $2 per pedestrian or bicyclist. A must see!

Location: 325 SW Williston Road, Gainesville, FL 32608 

So, what are you waiting for? Make time for yourself to play, reduce stress, and learn something new by going for a hike! For other awesome parks near Gainesville, click here

- Your Outdoor Enthusiasts at CORE