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One of Florida's most popular bike trails, the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail runs 16.2 miles, starting at Boulware Springs Park in Gainesville (home of the University of Florida) to the town of Hawthorne. The 10-foot wide asphalt trail follows an old Seaboard Coast railroad line. Mostly wooded and quiet, the trail passes through Paynes Prarie State Preserve and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area, encompassing natural areas and a variety of landscapes including woods, farmland, fields and streams, while including some hills to challenge the rider. Several panoramic vistas offer scenic views. Bicycling and skating are allowed. Horses are allowed west of the Lochloosa trailhead; an equestrian path runs along the paved trail. Facilities are limited, and riders are encouraged to bring plenty of water and snacks. The Gainesville Trailhead (mile 0) is located at historic Boulware Springs, once the main water supply for Gainesville. Go east on University Avenue in Gainesville to Hawthorne Road (SR 20) which forks to the right. Travel a short distance to SE 15th Street and proceed south to Boulware Springs Park. Signs point to the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. The park includes parking, water, and picnic tables. Restrooms are available at the restored Water Works building at the trailhead. The Lochloosa Trailhead (15 miles) is located at 7209 SE 200th Drive. Starting at Hawthorne, follow Route 2082 west, and then go left at SE 200th Drive. Parking is where the trail crosses the road. There are no facilities. To reach the Hawthorne Trailhead (16.2 miles), proceed east on University Avenue from Gainesville to Hawthorne Road (SR 20), and continue to US 301. Turn right and continue into Hawthorne; follow the trail signs to the trailhead at 300 SW 2nd Avenue. There is parking but no facilities; Hawthorne has some restaurants and shops. Starting at Boulware Springs Park, the rider will encounter historical and natural areas with wildlife viewing opportunities. Just past the one-half mile mark, the trail enters the Hammock and Big Sink areas, offering a series of curves and hills, unlike typical rail-trails. Sink holes, ponds, and springs mark this section of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. At one and half miles, the La Chua walking trail leads from the bike trail to a viewing area of wet-prairie and marsh habitat including Alachua Sink and Alachua Lake. Paynes Prairie Preserve, an important natural and environmental area, starts two miles from the trail. This is a prime wildlife viewing area consisting of prairie, pine flatwoods, marsh, and open water. Along with the usual Florida wildlife, sandhill cranes, wild horses and bison also can be seen. The Alachua Lake Overlook offers a panoramic view of this area.

Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area is an 11,000 acre area that includes large populations of bald eagles, ospreys, and wading birds. The ride along the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail through this area features towering pines and oak. Nearby Cross Creek (follow rte. 325 south from the trail) is the site of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' home. The rider passes through pine forest along the final mile and half to Hawthorne. New - from Boulware Springs Park, a paved connector now links to another trail in Gainesville for a total ride of 22 miles.

Check-out this website ==> for a listing of top Florida bike trails. Here, the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail is featured as a "Top 10 Trail" - with photos and recommendations on the best sections to ride.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Beth_Aaron

==== ==== Gainesville Florida is a great place to live, Take a Video Tour of Our Town http://www.gainesvillevideotour.com ==== ====

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