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Bike & Walking Trails in the Good Life Community

by Terry Martin-Back

My wife, Debra and I moved back to Gainesville over twenty years ago after my military career. Since then I have enjoyed finding new things to do in our beautiful area.

I have only recently taken up cycling and have discovered several fantastic trails surrounding our community. The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail has become a regular ride for me. My wife, Debra is not a fan of cycling but out of curiosity asked me where I get on the trail? I start at Boulware Springs which is the head of the trail in Gainesville, and to my surprise, my wife had no idea what Boulware Springs was or where it is located. As my wife had not heard about Boulware Springs or the Hawthorne Trail I realized that there must be many others living in our Good Life Community who have no idea, or have the misconception of thinking, the trail is only for cyclists. If you are looking for a simple outdoor walking adventure, pack up the family and visit Boulware Springs park.

The park is located on South East 15th Street, about three miles south of Hawthorne Road. There’s ample parking, picnic tables, restrooms and an opportunity to learn about Gainesville history. Once you tour the park, follow the path to the Gainesville-Hawthorne trail. It’s a wide paved path that give cyclists and hikers plenty of room to share an adventure. As you walk south, within a mile you will reach a turn-off to the Sweetwater view, where it overlooks Paynes Prairie Preserve. Here you can learn some of the history of Alachua Sink. Once you get back on the trail, in less than a third of a mile you will be able to walk the La Chua Trail. This trail will give you the opportunity to walk on an elevated boardwalk around the Alachua Sink and over the grasslands. The La Chua trail is a great place to bring your out of state visitors to view alligators and wildlife of Florida. The trail back to Boulware Springs has a slight incline and you only have to be in moderately good shape to experience this walking adventure. Beyond this point, the trail becomes more challenging with hills and curves and if you want to get your heart rate going, take the trail another eight-tenths of a mile and take the right fork turn to the Alachua Lake Overlook and enjoy the spectacular view. This walk may be a little challenging for some, make sure you carry the supplies you need for this challenge. If you’re really up for a challenge, continue down the trail and enjoy the hills and the woods to the Prairie Creek Boardwalk. Its four and eight-tenths mile from Boulware Springs and a fantastic walk on the boardwalk above the Cypress knees and an opportunity to chat with some local fisherman. Beyond the Prairie Creek Boardwalk is the Rochelle and the Prairie Creek Preserve and trails. For those who cycle and want to avoid the hills, there is off street parking available for that easy flat nine-mile trail ride into Hawthorne. Along the trail you will pass by wetlands, other preserved areas, and traces of old Florida. The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail is a jewel in our Good Life Community which offers you an opportunity to get out and explore the real Florida.

My wife and I enjoy these trails together, of course when we do this together we walk the trails…lol. We look forward to seeing you out here enjoying ……the Good Life!