Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

 

Paynes Prairie State Preserve

 

Nature Walk, Photos, and Trail Map

Alachua County

Micanopy, Florida

Entry Fee: $6 per vehicle

Official Website

Traffic: Moderate

 

An open savanna view in Florida!

 

You'll find miles of flat trail hiking here, including a view of Lake Wauberg, marshland and swamp from a boardwalk at Sawgrass Pond, dense hardwood canopy forest, open prairie, and places that feel like a stroll down an old country road. Most trails are packed, gray-white sand with some soft sand. You'll rarely get an "away from it all" natural feel as the trails are well-traveled and you encounter meandering, paved roads throughout as well as a boat ramp (Google Map), camping, a lakeside picnic area (Google Map), and basic restroom facilities, making this a great place for a family outing.

 

The Google map below leads you just past the front gate to the ranger station. From there, you will follow a paved road with numerous parking areas along the way. I went the full distance to the last parking area (Google Map) near the visitor center, as you can find from my AllTrails map below or using the interactive map on desktop or app. This is a very short walk to the fully wheelchair accessible visitor center (Google Map) where you can grab brochures and talk with a friendly ranger. From there, the observation tower (Google Map) overlooking the prairies is only about a minute's walk away. This Wacahoota Trail also has a short circle worth taking, about a half mile long at most, and you'll find your way back to the visitor center.

 

But if you're up for hiking, you're just getting started! Watch for a sign to Jackson Gap and Cones Dike Trails. I followed Jacksons Gap to Chacala Trail, which landed on some paved road, and then down Lake Trail back to Jacksons gap leading to where I started. The signs are a little confusing, as it is hard to tell if they designate trail heads or are pointing the way to the next trail head. The good news is that the trails are all so clear that it's hard to actually get lost, so enjoy exploring by following your nose.

 

The only additional advice I have is that when Lake Trail ends at Savannah Blvd, you just follow that road to your right (east) for maybe 20 yards before turning back onto Jacksons Gap. If you use my AllTrails recording with the mobile app, or look closely at the PDF map (both below) you will have no problem.

 

I saw some deer, a heron, and turkey vultures but human activity here seems to keep wildlife fairly shy. I have heard many people speak of wild horse and buffalo sightings across the prairie though have not seen myself after a few visits. But you'll find a diversity of plant life up close, plus great views. My six miles of hiking is at best half of what is there.

 

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Paynes Prairie State Preserve Trail Map - PDF of Trail Map

 

Interactive Map of trail at AllTrails Web and Mobile App

 

Find below pictures and a Google Map.

 

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

Observation tower at Paynes Prairie

 

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

 

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie
Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

 

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

 

Chacala Trail

Chacala Trail changes rapidly if you pay attention

 

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

 

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie in summer

 

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

 

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Southern Magnolia Leaf

 

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Winter at Paynes Prairie - Jacksons Gap Trail

 

Laurel Oak in Winter

Laurel Oak in Winter

 

Climbing the observation tower to a great view of Paynes Prairie

 

 

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Copyright 2016-2017 Bryan Lindenberger
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Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve
Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Bryan Lindenberger
Entrance to Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Paynes Prairie Hiking Trail Map

Observation Tower at Paynes Prairie

View from observation tower at Paynes Prairie in summer

Jacksons Gap Trail at Paynes Prairie

Long Leaf Pines at Chacala Trail, Paynes Prairie

Chacala Trail

Sawgrass Pond at Paynes Prairie

Lake Wauburg at Paynes Prairie

Loblolly Bay in Florida, Winter

Southern Magnolia Leaf

Winter at Paynes Prairie

Laurel Oak in Winter

Live Florida Beauty - Outdoor Sites and Images