Check out our favorite local trails – #52hikes
By: Kate Keskinen
Hello again! Last week I shared a little about the #52hikes challenge and how I’m working to spend more time when I’m outside of our yoga studio to honor nature this year. Today I want to share with you some of my favorite local spots.
LaChua Trail & Alachua sink:
This trail was my go-to for many years of Gainesville living, but 2017’s Hurricane Irma has turned it into a lake! It has been so interesting to see the huge changes after such a big storm. The only part of the trail still usable is the boardwalk, but it’s easy to get to if you’re biking the next trail on the list!
The Hawthorne Trail (for cyclists):
Part of Florida’s rails-to-trails program, the Hawthorne trail is just over 15 miles starting around the LaChua trail. Namely, it ends in Hawthorne, FL. Take your bike, a friend, and some snacks and stop off at the many small trails along the way. Do the whole 30+ mile loop, or take a shorter ride and bike out to the Payne’s Prairie/Lake outlook! It’s easy to hop on the downtown bike trails and add another couple miles to the beginning of your journey, plus you have the option to stop off at an earlier trail along the way…
Sweetwater Wetlands Park:
The Sweetwater Preserve has two entrances, one is located off of the Hawthorne trail on the way to LaChua trail (just before Boulware Springs) and the other is just off of SW Williston Rd, such a short distance from downtown Gainesville! This is THE place to go to see wildlife: alligators, horses, insects, and birds, birds, BIRDS!! There is always so much action happening and is a quick and easy weekly hike to squeeze in.
Split Rock Conservation Area:
This is a hidden gem on the opposite side of Gainesville. A friend recently told me about it and it is truly magical! There are some parking troubles (ie: no parking lot at all!) but there is a bus route that will take you there. If you take the smaller trails into the center of the loop, you’ll see why the area is called Split Rock, with a giant limestone rock split down the middle at the center of a sink. Definitely worth an afternoon of exploring.
San Felasco Hammock & (nearby) Devil’s Millhopper:
San Felasco has options for hikers, off-road bikers, and even horseback riders! Most of the trail is for hiking only, but no matter your mode of transport, this mature forest makes for an interesting hiking experience. There is always something new to see, and lots of friendly faces on the trail over the weekends. If you want to enjoy another nearby Florida gem, The Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is a 120 ft sink, where you can see how quickly the landscape changes with a change in altitude. Walk the winding staircases down through the mini Florida rainforest and see what you can find!
This is a solid foundation for Gainesville hikes, but there is truly SO MUCH in this area to explore! Tag us in any of your #52hikes experiences at @yogapodgainesville so we can see how you honor nature. We always love to connect!