Attractions in Alachua County, Florida

Attractions in Alachua County, Florida
Naturalists and outdoor recreationists seeking a different side of Florida can find it in Alachua County. Worlds removed from the streaming mass of Disney humanity in Orlando and the hundreds of miles of tourists baking on beaches almost everywhere else, northern Florida is where you go to see natural Florida as it was before tourism arrived. This is how native Americans and Spanish explorers knew Florida. It's flat, woodsy and offers mile after mile of savannah-like expanse terrain to explore. From a base of operations in Gainesville, the outdoor enthusiast can expect to find much to love about the Florida that people forgot.

Gainesville_Hawthorne Trail

This 16-mile paved walkway stretches from downtown Gainesville to historic Hawthorne, winding its way through woodlands, lakes and prairies. The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail was designed with the outdoors enthusiast in mind. Whether your pleasure is walking, cycling, rollerblading or even horseback riding, you're welcome here. Besides the main trailhead listed below, there are two additional trailheads with parking. They're located at 7209 SE 200th Drive (west of Hawthorne) and 21821 SE 71st Avenue (in Hawthorne). Facilities are limited; carrying your own food and water is a good idea.

3300 SE 15th Street
Gainesville, FL
(352) 466-3397

Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Whether it's birding, hiking or simply observing animals in their natural Florida habitat, Gainesville area naturalists know it doesn't get any better than Paynes Prairie. This 21,000 acre preserve is equipped with eight different trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Observe alligators, bison and even wild horses left behind by the Spanish conquistadors. Lake Wauberg is a favorite haunt for fishermen. Boats and canoes can enter via the boat ramp, and campsites are available. Paynes Prairie became the state's first preserve in 1971. It's now designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Paynes Prairie State Preserve
100 Savannah Blvd.
Micanopy, FL 32667

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park

The Devil's Millhopper is a tiny rain forest in the middle of northern Florida's predominantly sandy, pine-forested terrain. This slice-of-Amazonian-rainforest-life comes complete with trickling streams that vanish into infinity below and lush vegetation growing in the walls year round. Created by a sinkhole, this bowl-shaped cavity in the earth has been the mother lode for geologists interested in Florida's natural history. As for outdoor recreationists, choose the half mile nature trail circling the formation's lip, then follow the boardwalk system down into the sinkhole itself.

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
4732 Millhopper Road
Gainesville, FL 32653

Article Written By Derek Dowell

Derek Dowell has ghostwritten dozens of projects and thousands of blogs in the real estate, Internet marketing and travel industry, as well as completed the novel "Chrome Sombrero." He holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental legal studies from Missouri State University.

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