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Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park - North Entrance

La Chua Trail

Alachua County

Gainesville, Florida

Entry Fee: $5 per vehicle

Official Website: Florida State Parks

Traffic: Heavy

 

 

Paynes Prairie preserve boasts plenty of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding with access to "more than 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife and livestock, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds" according to the official website.

 

While Paynes Prairie is well worth the visit, this page focuses exclusively on the north entrance. Seeking a rugged, forest hike like I so often take, I was disappointed at first. There is a $4 car fee, the place was crowded with others on the weekend, and La Chua Trail started off as paved and then wood. I wasn't getting that "back to nature" vibe I'd hoped for!

 

My attitude quickly changed as I made my way along the 1.5 mile there and back trail - 3 miles total. For real, you will not get this close to alligators and such a great variety of marshland Florida birds as here except maybe at a zoo. It is a birding north central Florida's great variety of wetland birds and photographer's delight, and I saw many with camera equipment that almost certainly cost more than my car.

 

Enjoy what I captured. I had great fun enjoying the short hike, taking these snaps, and learning from home (thanks to Google and Pinterest) how to distinguish great egrets, great blue herons, immature great blue herons, and little blue herons, both mature and immature. Photo captions are here to help you distinguish between them - get out there and visit! The earlier in the day the better, and that $4 pass extends to Paynes Prairie State Preserve. Which has a $6 fee, so maybe that is a hack right there! :-)

 

La Chua Trail Map - PDF map of trail hike


Interactive Map of Trail at AllTrails

 

Find below pictures and a Google Map.

 

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

 

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

 

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus - has a yellow tipped beak, orange to between the eyes, with a gray body and brown feathers on the wings

 

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Blue Heron with Beard

 

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Egret - note dark legs, while immature great blue heron which is white has light colored legs

 

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

 

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

 

Immature Little Blue Heron

Immature Little Blue Heron - note lighter legs than egret

 

Mature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

 

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

A White Ibis (curved beak) takes off over a Cattle Heron (short, stout beak) with Anhinga in Tree

 

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 2016-2017 Bryan Lindenberger
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Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North
Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Bryan Lindenberger
Alligator at Paynes Prairie Preserve North

North Entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve

Old Trestle left from Southern Florida Railroad

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Great Blue Heron with Beard

Great Egret at Paynes Prairie

Great Blue Heron in Marsh

Great Blue Heron Taking Flight

Immature Little Blue Heron

Mature Little Blue Heron

Cattle Heron, White Ibus, and Anhinga

Glossy Ibis at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images