Florida State Parks in Alachua County

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Looking north from the observation tower at Payne's Prairie.

Alachua County, Florida is home to six state parks. Two of them are also National Natural Landmarks, one is a historic district, one is a National Historic Landmark, and one is a rail trail. Unless otherwise noted, all of the parks adhere to the Florida State Parks schedule; Florida state parks are open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays).

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park[edit]

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Devil's Millhopper - 2.jpg
Boardwalk leading down to the sinkhole's observation deck
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Gainesville, Florida
Coordinates 29°42′25″N 82°23′42″W / 29.70694°N 82.39500°W / 29.70694; -82.39500
Area 67 acres (270,000 m2)
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park is a Florida State Park located two miles (3 km) northwest of Gainesville, Florida, USA, off County Road 232, northwest of the University of Florida. It is the only geological park in the state of Florida, is a National Natural Landmark, and is maintained by the Florida State Parks system, a division of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The park is near the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.

Geology[edit]

The cutaway, limestone sides of the sinkhole provide an easily visible geological record of the area. Twelve springs, some more visible than others, feed the pond at the bottom of the sinkhole. In the summer, the bottom of sinkhole is dramatically cooler than the air at the surface, due to springs that trickle 70 °F (21 °C) water in small waterfalls.

Ecology[edit]

Even though the park is only 67 acres (270,000 m2), three distinct ecological environments exist in the park, based on exposure to sun, fire, and water. In the sandhill environment, the sandy soil and regular fires result in pine trees being the predominant vegetation. The moist soils of the hammocks support broadleaf trees and more low vegetation, while the swamp areas only support flora and fauna adapted to year-around wet conditions.

History[edit]

The 117-foot (35.7 m), 500-foot (152.4 m) across sinkhole got its name from its similar appearance to the hopper of a mill, along with the bones found at the bottom, suggesting animals entered it on the way to meeting the devil. The site was purchased by the state in 1974, and a set of 232 wooden steps, along with boardwalks and an observation deck at the bottom were completed in 1976.

Hours[edit]

The park is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Wednesday through Sunday.

Dudley Farm Historic State Park[edit]

Dudley Farm
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Newberry Dudley Farm visit01.jpg
Dudley Farm visitor center
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Newberry
Coordinates 29°42′25″N 82°23′42″W / 29.70694°N 82.39500°W / 29.70694; -82.39500
Area 2,598 acres (10.51 km2)
Established October 4, 2002
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Dudley Farm (also known as Dudley Farm State Historic Site) is a U.S. historic district located in Newberry, Florida. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 2002. The address is 18730 West Newberry Road. It encompasses approximately 327 acres (1.32 km2), and contains 21 historic buildings and 13 structures.

The site is a working farm, showing agricultural development in Florida from the late 19th century through the early 20th centuries.

Hours[edit]

The park is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Wednesday through Sunday. The farmstead closes at 4:00 PM.

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail[edit]

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Gainesville, Florida
Coordinates 29°42′25″N 82°23′42″W / 29.70694°N 82.39500°W / 29.70694; -82.39500
Area 16-mile (26 km) length
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is a rail trail in Florida.

It is protected as a 16-mile (26 km) long Florida State Park and runs from the City of Gainesville's Boulware Springs Water Works to the town of Hawthorne. It passes through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area along a former Seaboard Coast Line rail line.

Recreational activities[edit]

Activities include hiking, running, cycling, rollerblading, and horseback riding. A grassy equestrian pathway is available except east of the Lochloosa trailhead.

Hours[edit]

The Boulware Springs trailhead is open from 8 am to 6 pm November through April and from 8 am to 8 pm May through October. The Paynes Prairie portion of the trail is open from 8 am until sunset, 365 days a year.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park[edit]

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Micanopy Paynes Prairie overlook bdwlk01.jpg
Looking east along the US 441 outlook ramp
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Gainesville, Florida
Coordinates 29°42′25″N 82°23′42″W / 29.70694°N 82.39500°W / 29.70694; -82.39500
Area 21,000 acres (85 km2)
Established 1971
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Paynes Prairie is a Florida State Park, encompassing a 21,000-acre (85 km2) savanna south of Gainesville, Florida, in Micanopy. It is also a US National Natural Landmark. It is crossed by both I-75 and U.S. 441 (which has a scenic outlook ramp).

History[edit]

The prairie became the stronghold of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe under chief Ahaya the Cowkeeper in the 18th century. It is named for the Cowkeeper's eldest surviving son, Payne.

There have been times when the prairie's drainage become so blocked that it flooded, causing the formation of a lake. The most recent such occurrence was in 1871, and lasted until 1886. During this period, steamboats were a frequent sight on what was called Alachua Lake.

Fauna[edit]

Over 270 species of birds can be seen in the park as well as American alligators and plains bison. The bison were reintroduced to the park from Oklahoma in the mid-1970s. As a part of the park service goal of restoring Florida's natural resources to pre-European settler conditions, the bison were reintroduced because they once roamed this area until the early 19th century. It is rare to see them, but the best place to look for them is along the Cone's Dike trail.

Recreational activities[edit]

The park contains exhibits and an audio-visual program at the visitor center that explains the area's natural and cultural history. A 50-foot (15 m)-high observation tower near the visitor center provides a panoramic view of the preserve. Eight different trails provide opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling. Ranger-led activities are offered on weekends, November through April. Fishing on Lake Wauburg is allowed and a boat ramp provides access for canoes and boats with electric motors. Full-facility campsites are available for overnight visitors.

The park is a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Gallery[edit]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park[edit]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House
Mkrawlingshouse.jpg
View of the Kinnan Rawlings home
Location Cross Creek, Alachua County, Florida
Built circa 1890[1]
NRHP Reference # 70000176
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 29, 1970[2]
Designated NHL September 20, 2006[3]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park is a Florida State Park and historic site located on the former homestead of Florida author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It is located in Cross Creek, Florida, between Ocala and Gainesville. The address is 18700 South County Road 325.

The homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, added on September 29, 1970. The house and farm yard were designated a National Historic Landmark on September 27, 2006.

The park is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Activities include hiking and hourly tours Thursday through Sunday, at 10 am 11 a.m. and from 1 pm to 4 pm, except in August and September and on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Amenities include two short hiking trails and park employees that bring 1930s rural Florida to life with period clothing and stories.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park[edit]

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
San Felasco Hammock entr01.jpg
Entrance to San Felasco Hammock State Park
Location Alachua County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Alachua, Florida
Coordinates 29°42′25″N 82°23′42″W / 29.70694°N 82.39500°W / 29.70694; -82.39500
Governing body Florida Department of Environmental Protection

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park is a Florida State Park in Alachua County, Florida. It is located northwest of Gainesville, Florida on Millhopper Road and off U.S. 441, just south of the town of Alachua.

Fauna[edit]

Among the wildlife of the park are bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, wild turkeys, and many species of songbirds.

Recreational activities[edit]

Activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature viewing.

Amenities include 20 miles (32 km) of single-track bike trails, horse trails, and nature trails.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House". Florida Heritage Tourism Interactive Catalog. Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs. 2007-09-22. 
  2. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - Florida (FL), Alachua County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-09-22. 
  3. ^ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and Farm Yard at National Historic Landmarks Program Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]