Gainesville - Hawthorne State Trail
Part #3 of 3
The paved, 10-foot-wide Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail stretches 16 miles from the City of Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park through the 21,000 acre Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, and Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area.
Boulware Springs, an important archeological and historical site, has been inhabited for thousands of years. The name of the city was chosen during an 1854 community meeting at the Springs.
From 1894 to 1923 the Springs were the main water supply for the city and also served as a key selling point in attracting the University of Florida to Gainesville.
The first few miles heading east from the Gainesville terminus at Boulware Springs City Park pass through historical and natural areas which provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The next section passes over streams and through wetlands that are within the Orange Creek Basin watershed. The last 5 miles to rural Hawthorne wind through pine forests and wetlands. The trail is designed for walking, cycling and horseback riding. Between the Gainesville and Lochloosa trailheads, equestrians are given free rein on an adjacent grassy trail.
Boulware Springs City Park - 3400 SE 15th Street.
Boulware Springs Trailhead – 3300 SE 15th Street.
Lochloosa Trailhead - 7209 SE 200th Drive.
Hawthorne Trailhead - 2182 SE 71st Avenue.
I began my ride at the Hawthorne trailhead on 8-28-14 at 7:45 AM and traveled North to the Boulware Springs Trailhead. Other than an occasional bird sighting I didn't notice any other wildlife while traversing the trail. Early morning riders may want to bring along repellent to fend off mosquitoes.
Portions of the trail parallel CR 2082, Route 20 and SE 15th Street. As shown in the photos there are side streets (perhaps a dozen) which intersect with the trail. Vehicular traffic at these intersections was sparse during my visit.
Departing from Hawthorne, like many rail-trails, it's generally flat and straight however within a few miles of Gainesville there is a unique series of modest turns and hills, which occasional Florida (flat terrain) riders may find a little challenging.
A good portion of the trail is canopied and comfortable to ride however, while the canopied areas afford shade, on this occasion there was a fair amount of natural (branches, pine needles, leaves, etc.) debris on the path to steer around.
There are few rest areas with facilities and or water along the way. Riders should pack accordingly.
Gainesville - Hawthorne State Trail map (JPG).