Want to take a spin through some of the best scenery in the Gainesville area? A bike ride at Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park is where it's at.
Sixteen miles of paved pathway meanders through Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for all manner of wildlife, especially on the first section of the trail that passes Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. As a quick side trip, park your bike and take a stroll down the La Chua Trail boardwalk, where lots of alligators are usually present.
Three different trailheads along the trail make it easy to create shorter trips, in case you aren't up to riding the whole 16 miles. If you do the whole trail, give yourself at least two hours for the one-way trip. It usually takes me longer than this, but I'm a frequent "let's stop and take a picture" kind of rider.
If biking isn't your thing, the trail is also open to hikers, inline skaters and horseback riders. For more information, check out www.bit.ly/GainesvilleHawthorne.