The Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is your best bet for a long off-road run in the Gainesville area! The paved ‘rails to trails’ multi-use trail runs for more than 16 miles between Gainesville and Hawthorne, through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and other local and state conservation lands. The trail passes by native plants and wildlife, diverse scenery and backyard Florida culture. There are overlooks and stops of interest pointing out the history of these small railroad towns. There’s a grassy equestrian trail along the paved path a good part of the way. The terrain is a combination of open and wooded.
The official trailhead is at Boulware Springs Park, but there’s a connector trail from downtown starting at SW 2nd Ave/SW 6th St., which adds 2.3 miles. The trail passes to the south of Depot Park, then just east of Sweetwater Preserve, and then the La Chua/Prairie Creek area. Just east of Rochelle, there are 2-3 miles skirting the northern end of the Phifer Flatwoods Preserve.
- Up to 17.7 miles (28.5 km) one-way, if starting from downtown. Choose a section!
- 257 feet over entire trail, west to east
- Official trailhead is at Boulware Springs. Downtown connector trail starts at SW 2nd Ave/SW 6th St.
- 4 designated access points/parking areas
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