Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a paved Rail Trail that runs 16 miles from Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park to the city of Hawthorne, winding through parks, conservation lands, and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (definitely worth a stop and stroll down the boardwalk!). The scenery is fantastic, with cypress swamps, tunnel-like oak hammocks, and even some old abandoned buildings buried in the woods. Several bridges cross small streams. We heard tons of birds (but didn't see too many).
The Gainesville-Hawthorne bicycle trail was probably my favorite trail we've ridden so far. My husband said people online complained about the hills, but I think they're nuts - sure, there were some rolling hills, but nothing outrageous or even challenging (not even for us beginners!), I LOVED the downhill parts, and the variety was novel for me, having only really biked in flat flat flat South Florida! Bring plenty of water and snacks, although there's allegedly a convenience store about 2/3 of the way from Gainesville to Hawthorne (a sign points to it, you can't miss it). We couldn't find our way to anything else after arriving at the Hawthorne end of the trail. On the way back we realized there was a hand-drawn map of Hawthorne on the back of a display case that we had passed near the Hawthorne end of the trail - oops! Also, don't plan on stopping to rest for long, even though benches are located every few miles or so - the mosquitoes and biting flies were thick! Of course we were bicycling in late May, so that's to be expected. There are restrooms roughly half-way through the trail.
Everyone on this trail is so nice! Nearly everyone said "hi", some waved, some rode their bikes beside us and asked how our day was going, etc. We've NEVER experienced anything like that on the South Florida trails. The weather was so crisp and the sky was blue, it was just a fantastic bike trail.
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail has four trailheads:
Boulware Springs City Park, 3300 SE 15th St, Gainesville
CR 234 and CR 2082, Rochelle
7902 SE 200th Dr, west of Hawthorne
2182 SE 71st Ave, Hawthorne
Location:3300 SE 15th St
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