Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, but we took a little detour when an entrance to the preserve presented itself right along the bicycle path.
Yes, we only saw a tiny bit of this preserve, but it was stunning, and teeming with wildlife. We saw countless birds and alligators, though we didn't see any of the park's famed bison - can you imagine seeing wild bison in Florida? Totally insane, but we didn't travel far enough down the LaChua Trail to get even close. What we did find was a beautiful flowing stream with an accompanying boardwalk with an observation pavilion at the end.
There aren't many outdoor activities NOT available at Payne's Prairie Preserve. There's biking (obviously!), hiking, fishing, canoeing & kayaking, and there's even a boat ramp into one of the lakes. The park is also quite equestrian-friendly, with trails as well as equestrian camping (along with regular full-facility camping and primitive camping).
A little bit of trivia: Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park was Florida's first state preserve, designated in 1971.
With the weather cooling down soon, I'm anxious to convince my husband that Payne's Prairie State Park should be one or our camping destinations for this winter - I'm anxious do do more biking and hiking in the preserve, and hoping to see some bison! The only difficult decision will be whether to bring the bikes or the boat...maybe the bikes will fit *in* the boat? I can hope!
The park is open from 8AM to sunset every day of the year. Admission fees range from $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists to $6 for vehicles with 2-8 passengers.
Price range: $2.00-$6.00 per person
Location:100 Savannah Blvd
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