Summer in Gainesville have you feeling restless? Have no fear dear reader. Nature trails of all sorts can be found weaving through hushed forests, urban spaces and maybe even your own neighborhood. We have gathered some basic information of some local favorites, all within a 20-minute drive from the University of Florida. So whether you choose to bike, skate, blade or hike your way through these trails, take your time and don’t forget to appreciate all this amazing town has to offer.


Activity Key








Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail (16.5 miles) (far right)


  • Paved/Hiking/Fishing/Pets/Equestrian Trail
  • Six minute drive from campus
  • Fee: None
  • One of the most popular trails in town, the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail begins just south of Downtown and continues through Boulware Springs and Paynes Prairie. Keep your eyes open for the bison, wild horses and alligators native to the prairie as you bike, skate or meander your way down the wide paved trail.

Loblolly Woods/Hogtown Creek Greenway Trail (3 miles) (above the 26)

  • Off-Road/Paved/Hiking/Picnicking/Pets
  • Six minute drive from campus
  • Fee: None
  • The Hogtown Creek Greenway runs through Loblolly Woods and along its namesake creek that feeds Gainesville’s water supply. Dogwoods, magnolia trees and loblolly pines are scattered alongside the babbling creek and observation deck, setting the scene for an afternoon of quiet exploration.

Archer Braid Trail (6 miles) (bottom left on the 24)


  • 15 minute drive from campus
  • Fee: None
  • This asphalt bicycle path runs along SW Archer through Haile Plantation. It will eventually connect to the University of Florida campus via an overpass across I-75 and government-funded trail expansions. Enjoy the open trail as you wander through this residential area and forget about all that scanning you have to do for your internship.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park (30 miles)


  • 19 minute drive from campus
  • Fee: $4 per car
  • San Felasco holds claim to one of the few mature hardwood forests in the mostly tropical Florida, with looming trees and lush foliage creating the peaceful solitude characteristic of a Gainesville summer. In addition to this, the park is home to a variety of local wildlife, including turkeys, bobcats, gray foxes, deer and songbirds.

Sweetwater Preserve (4 miles) (on the 331)


  • Seven minute drive from campus
  • Fee: None
  • The 125 acre preserve serves as a buffer zone along the north rim of Paynes Prairie and includes varying geographical features such as floodplain forests, pastures, sinkholes and mixed forests. Popular among mountain bikers, the Sweetwater trails wind through a variety of terrain and along a stream known for its reptilian inhabitants.

Newman’s Lake Conservation Area (2 miles)


  • 17 minute drive from campus
  • Fee: None
  • Covering the bank of Newnans Lake and its two major tributaries, this area consists mostly of floodplain wetlands that are intrinsically linked to the water supply draining into Paynes Prairie.  Bald cypress trees draped in Spanish moss lace the shoreline, providing a natural beauty that only makes you love this town more.