When I was in White Springs a couple weeks ago, I picked up a brochure at the Nature & Heritage Tourism Center entitled Discover Gainesville’s Natural Treasures. It’s been several years since I last worked on a hiking guide in this area, so I was surprised and delighted to see new parks and natural areas listed, and made this past sunny Sunday a time to try out a few of these new-to-me trails.
Cofrin Nature Park met the “unexpected” criteria by being within a few minutes of the Oaks Mall, with a pleasant stroll through re-establishing forest. Loblolly Woods and the Hogtown Creek Greenway were a flat out surprise. It’s nice to see a government entity sticking with natural surfaces for multi-use traffic, us hikers really appreciate it. But our walk in the woods uncovered beauty spots I never would have imagined so close to the UF campus, and rapids – yes, rapids! – in Hogtown Creek. Small, but noisy. And at Alfred A. Ring Park, the hike along another segment of Hogtown Creek made you feel like you were nowhere near the middle of a large suburban area … with dutchman’s-breeches in bloom, an unexpected find. I give high marks to these gorgeous gems within the city limits – certainly Gainesville’s unexpected treasures!