Another Look at Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

About a year and a half ago, we rode the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail, and it wasn’t one of my favorites – it was hot and the trail was too hilly. However, yesterday I was ready to tackle another section closer to Hawthorne.

This time we started our ride in the morning shortly after 9:30 at the Phifer Flatwoods Preserve. The temperature was cooler (only 87º?) and much of the trail was shaded early in the day. Best of all, this section was mostly flat. In fact, I rode most of the day in 4th, 5th, or even 6th gear unlike our previous ride when I pedaled primarily in 2nd gear.


We hoped to take a couple of short detours riding on hiking trails that were open to cycling but found the first to be under construction with many trees blocking the path. We rode about 200 yards down a second but our bikes are not made for riding over the small trees on the trail.


Surprisingly, I even enjoyed riding over two miles of the trail from our first ride. I’m not sure if it’s riding a different bike or a different time of day or a different section of the trail or if I’m in better shape, but yesterday’s 17.9 mile ride was great all around, especially compared to the shorter ten mile ride taken last year.


We ended the ride with a picnic instead of eating out which was also a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, we didn’t encounter the wildlife riding mid-mornining instead of at sunset, but I don’t mind missing the deer, armadillo and rabbits for a near perfect ride.

We’ll be back soon to finish the final section starting at Hawthorne. I’m hoping it has more in common with the portion of the trail we rode yesterday than the Gainesville section, but in any case, we’ve found another place to add to our list of go to rides.


Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail

Numerous benches and seating areas along a bike trail can only mean one thing: I’ll need to stop to rest along the way!

The wide, smooth Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail connecting Boulware Springs Park in Gainesville to Lochloosa required too many shifts to first or second gear so I could navigate the hills on the path. I know, it’s Florida. The hills can’t be that tough. Well, they provided more than enough challenge for me.

Since we arrived in Gainesville at 6:00, we didn’t attempt the complete 16.5 mile trail, but instead started at La Chua and then rode east through a portion of Payne’s Prairie Preserve stopping at several of the overlooks. Our ten mile round trip ride was sufficient.

We saw deer, armadillo, and rabbits, a bonus of riding near sunset. A quick detour down the LaChua Trail would have surely resulted in the appearance of alligator and maybe even bison.

Next time we’ll have to start in Hawthorne to insure we ride the remainder of the trail. Hoping for fewer shifts to those low gears.