Alachua County, Florida Attractions

Alachua County, Florida Attractions
Alachua county is an inland county in northern Florida that is home to the city of Gainesville, as well as the University of Florida, a major research university. For the outdoor enthusiast however, Alachua county is probably more famous for its many natural areas that offer miles of trails for hiking and biking, as well as some of the state's best wildlife viewing and camping opportunities. The name "Alachua" refers to the plentiful natural sinkhole water springs that dot the area.

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park is a U.S. National Natural Landmark and features a limestone sinkhole that is 120 feet deep with a small rain forest at its center. Visitors to the Devils Millhopper Geological State Park can enjoy a nature trail the circles the rim of the sinkhole or follow a wooden boardwalk down into the central cavity where many prehistoric fossils have been found. Tree frogs and exotic birds are often seen along the trail and colorful orchids and swamp chestnut oaks are abundant here. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guided ranger tours are available every Saturday.

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park
4732 Millhopper Road
Gainesville, FL 32653
(352) 955-2008

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a converted railroad line that has been paved for use by walkers and bikers. The trail runs sixteen miles between Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park to the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and passes through the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area. There are many sinkholes along the trail as well as ample opportunities for viewing hawks, alligators and turtles. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park at the trail's far end is another U.S. National Natural Landmark that features over 20,000 acres of hiking, biking and wildlife viewing activities and has several campsites that can be reserved ahead of time.

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
3400 SE 15 St.
Gainesville, FL 32641
(352) 466-3397

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is located just four miles outside of Gainesville but feels like millions of miles from civilization. The park has 6,900 acres of land that include one of the last remaining mature forests in all of Florida as well as many sinkholes, ponds and small lakes. Bikes are allowed in part of the park but a full two thirds is reserved for hiking only and it is here that you may catch a glimpse of the elusive bobcat, wild turkey or white tailed deer.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
12720 NW 109 Lane
Alachua, FL 32615
(386) 462-7905

Article Written By Ocean Malandra

Based in San Francisco, Ocean Malandra is a travel writer, author and documentary filmmaker. He runs a major San Francisco travel website, is widely published in both online and print publications and has contributed to several travel guidebooks to South America.

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