The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a puptastic rail trail that stretches 16 miles from Gainesville to Hawthorne in the fantastic region of northern Florida. Passing through several parks and natural areas, this is one furbulous trail your pup is going to love! Your dog is welcome to hike this long trail with you, but should stay on a six foot leash throughout.
Technically, the trail starts in Depot Park in Gainesville, in the northwestern corner where S Main Street meets SE Depot Avenue. It winds south through the park, with a spur loop past the parking lot for the park in the southeast section, so it may make sense to jump on the trail here. It then exits the park and heads southeast. Then it cuts its way between the Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve and Boulware Spring Park, the latter of which offers parking at a trailhead in the southern section of the park, and is where most like to begin the journey.
The trail then heads out of the park south, then east and crosses SE 15th Street. It continues through the wooded area of Paynes Prairie and into the Prairie Creek Preserve, where there is another access point with parking available at the intersection of CR 234 and CR 2082. Featuring 606 acres of preserved woods, the preserve is a woofderful place to explore!
If you decide to stay on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, you'll keep traveling south and east through more woodlands, with a house sprinkled here and there. Keep heading east, and you'll come to another trailhead with parking at 7902 S.E. 200th Drive, right off of CR 2082. Further east is more gorgeous landscape, with some buildings and a lot of trees and farm areas, all the way until you get to the end of the trail in Hawthorne at 2182 S.E. 71st Avenue, which also features parking.
Human restrooms can be found at the parks and preserves, but be sure to have clean-up bags for your pup on hand. Water to share is a must for any hiking adventure, this one included! Throughout your hike on this trail, you'll see not only rich flora and lots of wildlife like bison, wild horses, alligators and bald eagles, but there are several overlooks and interesting stops that feature both the diverse landscape and the history of the railroad in these small towns. With an easy 10 foot wide path, there are benches sporadically placed, as well as a convenience store here and there.
For a pawtastic hike through gorgeous wooded areas, you and your pup will love the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail!