On sacred ground set aside by the town of Micanopy, the oldest inland settlement in Florida, the Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve honors the site of an ancient village and burial mound on the high ground above Lake Tuscawilla, which is now an open prairie.
Length: 0.8 mile
Lat-Lon: 29.502589, -82.269589
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate
If the parking area is chained, the preserve is closed. The parking area is shared with adjacent Tuscawilla Preserve. This is not a place to walk in open sandals, given the large amounts of tread softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus) in the footpath, painful to brush bare skin against.
It is three tenths of a mile from US 441 along SE Tuscawilla Rd to the entrance to the preserve parking area on the right.
When William Bartram came to the Great Alachua Savanna in the spring of 1774, the village that once occupied this bluff was one of the places he stopped to meet the indigenous people who lived along the prairies. The understory of this 16 acre tract is very typical of North Florida uplands, with lots of pine straw and grapevines beneath a high canopy of live oaks and laurel oaks.
Start your walk at the main kiosk just past the parking area. An interpretive trail goes off to the right of the kiosk, where you’ll see a lot of beautiful blue spiderwort in bloom. Markers along the loop correspond to an interpretive brochure which may be available at the kiosk or at Micanopy Town Hall. Blackberries bloom along the edges of the path, which winds its way through the uplands.
Passing marker 9, you come up to a trail intersection at a half mile. Stay on the main loop, as the other path is a connector to a neighborhood in Micanopy. It follows an old road, perhaps the historic route of the first north-south road through Micanopy, to a kiosk and a pass-through to the neighborhood.
One lone cabbage palm stands under the higher canopy of trees. As the tree canopy becomes taller, spiderwort is throughout the understory. You can see a the fenced-off archaeological site through the trees.
The trail emerges at a pole barn and a barn-like building that says “Town of Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve Museum”, but it was not open on our visit. Behind it, however, is a notable archaeological find, an Alachua Tradition burial mound.
Surrounded by a fence, it has a sign explaining the significance of the site, which dates to the Mississippian period, AD 750-1565. “Please show respect with a moment of silence,” the sign says. Nature need not be silent, however. The butterflies flutter across the blooms scattered upon the burial mound.
The loop trail ends after 0.8 mile at the entrance.