Home of the University of Florida, Gainesville is surrounded with outdoor recreation opportunities. This is a bike-friendly city, with bike commuters and students using its many dedicated bike paths. The biggest and most obvious destination for outdoor recreation is Paynes Prairie. It’s a landform defining the south rim of the city, protected by a string of parks and preserves. The popular Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail extends east from Boulware Springs, the city’s original water source and an access point for both the trail, Sweetwater Preserve, and the northern portion of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Several state parks surround the city and nearby communities in Alachua County.
The City of Gainesville has set aside many smaller public lands within city limits to conserve unique natural features. Beyond city limits, you’ll find plenty of places to play, especially to the east, where conservation lands protect portions of the shorelines of the many lakes within Alachua County. To the west are the springs of the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers in High Springs, Bell, and Trenton.
Devils Millhopper State Park debuted a new staircase into the sinkhole on June 5. It has 100 fewer steps and yet is less steep and broader than the prior version.
On November 18, Alachua Conservation Trust opens a brand new preserve to the public: Santa Fe River Preserve, more than 900 acres along the Santa Fe River near Worthington Springs.