I started out on a little back road off of US 301 in Hawthorne, Florida. On SE 2nd Avenue was the start of my 16+mile journey along the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, the Hawthorne Trailhead and parking area. I unloaded my bike and gear in the early morning sunlight and stretched in anticipation for the long ride.
The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a linear paved trail that runs from the town of Hawthorne, through the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area, Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park and finally into downtown Gainesville, Florida near the college. My goal was to ride through the wilderness areas, check out a few of the spur trails and end up in town at a nearby deli for a nice lunch.
The trail that morning was very quiet. It was surprising since I was traveling parallel to some very busy roads. Through the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area was a nice ride but I did have to cross a few busy roads before I got to a small stream. I rode over the water and enjoyed the scenery and woods and the occasional break of homes and roads.
About halfway to my destination is a small town named Rochelle. A bathroom break was needed and this little intersection had just the place. A small public restroom is right off the trail here.
Further up along the trail is the Prairie Creek Fishing Bridge. To my surprise, I wasn’t alone as several early morning anglers held poles in hand over the open waters on the bridge. Several nodded heads answered my wave, unfaltering from their fishing by tightly gripping the poles in hand.
Pretty soon, I had entered the Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park. Several spur trails and overlooks stem from the trail here and I had to investigate. The first was the Red Wolf Pond Overlook. I spotted a few egrets among the tall grass as I coasted to a stop on my bike.
Next was the spur to Alachua Lake Overlook. It was an even larger body of water and the cool breeze blowing over the lake felt nice. I sped on to my next destination.
I skipped the next spur trail, I was a little tired and hungry, hurried to get to my final destination; food in downtown Gainesville. As I arrived at the Boulware Springs Trailhead and Park, I turned down the busy SE 15h Street and followed it to one of my favorite eateries on University Avenue. It was a nice ride.