Paynes Prairie in Gainesville is drying up. With the extended drought and dropping water levels, the alligators are getting more and more concentrated into the bodies of water that are remaining. This is not a time to be roaming about without caution on North Florida’s most vast prairie, but it is a good time to see gators by the hundreds up at the north end of the prairie, where it drains into the aquifer, at Alachua Sink.
The La Chua Trail starts south of Boulware Springs Park off the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail and a back entrance to the preserve, open weekdays only, to lead you out into the panorama of prairie and waterways. I was glad to see a boardwalk added a few years ago, for safety’s sake and accessibility.