Centuries after the last residents left the village along it, Lake Tuscawilla is now an open prairie. But this village site is sacred ground.
Founded in 1821, the town of Micanopy is the oldest inland settlement in Florida, but this Alachua Tradition village site is centuries older. The purpose of this preserve is to protect its archeological footprint, including a burial mound.
Length: 0.8 mile loop
Trailhead: 29.502589, -82.269589
Fees / Permits: free
Land Manager: Town of Micanopy
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.
From Interstate 75 exit 374, Micanopy, follow CR 234 east for 0.6 mile to NW Seminary Avenue. Turn right and drive 0.7 mile through this historic residential district to NE Cholokka Boulevard, which is flanked by the historic downtown. Turn right and continue along the road as it leaves town and continues 0.5 mile to the parking area on the left.
The parking area is also just 0.3 mile west of US 441 along SE Tuscawilla Rd.
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.
Our slideshow of hiking Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve
In addition to Tuscawilla Preserve directly across the road, these are other nearby locations to hike.
Barr Hammock Preserve
Circling Levy Prairie at Barr Hammock Preserve provides a glimmer of understanding of the chain of prairies that William Bartram saw during his 1774 traverse of the region
Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve
A worthwhile wander on water management lands, this loop hike at Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve hits the highlights of this colorful 2,850-acre preserve.
Peek through thick curtains of Spanish moss beneath grandfather live oaks along the shores of an ancient lake
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Protecting a massive natural basin of prairie between Micanopy and Gainesville, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park combines panoramic views with wildlife watching along its trails
Town of Micanopy Website