Top 10... Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail stretches 16 miles from the City of Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area and ends in the small town of Hawthorne. Wooded and quiet, there are even are some winding hills to challenge you! There are several hiking trails leading from the bike trail. A paved spur leads to a scenic Paynes Prairie overlook. At Gainesville, a link connects with the Waldo Road Greenway-Depot Road Rail-Trail for an additional 6.5 miles of biking. (More description, photos and map below.)
Note: On some maps, the Gainesville-Hawthorne "State Park" Trail is the paved bicycle trail, while the Gainesville-Hawthorne "State" Trail is an unpaved hiking trail looping south of the bike trail. (In fact, all State maintained rail-trails are now "Linear State Parks.")
THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH
I recommend the western half of the trail, from Boulware Springs City Park to CR 325 (about 7.7 miles).
This half includes a short section of hills and turns, a 0.7 mi. spur to Payne's Prairie Overlook, and entrances to some popular hiking trails. It also contains the shadiest parts of the trail and little road noise. A very short portion runs adjacent to busy Rte 20, but the trail soon veers south along seldom-used CR 2082 (the old Hawthorne road), a swampy area and one of the prettiest sections of the trail.
The second half of the trail to the 'old Florida' railroad town of Hawthorne is a pleasant, tree-lined ride. However, it is also flat, non-descript, and the grassy right-of-way is wide, so the trees provide very little shade. The trailhead at Hawthorne is rarely used and sometimes overgrown. It's about two blocks east to the old "downtown," bypassed years ago by Rte. 301, another couple of blocks east. There are some interesting sights here. Check out the tiny Hawthorne Historical Museum (pictured below), a local labor of love.
BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY along the Gainesville-Hawthorne
More information on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail (opens in a new window):
Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail - a Top Florida Bike Trail for Recreation and Fitness.
Our Top 10 FL Biking
Gator Cycle (Gainesville)
Support and Advocacy