Cone’s Dike Trail at Payne’s Prairie State Preserve in Micanopy, Florida offers a 5.3+ mile there-and-back nature walk. And this trail truly puts you face-to-face with nature! Note: For additional trails and information about this location, visit this site at Payne’s Prairie State Preserve.
The hike is easy and mostly flat apart from a short, winding portion at the beginning. This short portion takes you down from a rest area to the prairie. After that, the trail is a straight line with just a couple of corners to turn. This section provides easy hiking, with the trail composed of tarmac and hard earth. In fact, the trail itself is nothing spectacular except for the amazing views and wildlife you are likely to experience.
Plants and Animals Galore!
Watch for Gators
On my July trip, I came upon Florida cracker horses roaming wild on the trail. I also found a rather irritable alligator. Since it blocked the trail, it’s easy to see why pets are not allowed here. The prairie views are breathtaking with portions of the horizon painted white by multitudes of blooming, American lotus. Frequently, the wet marshland comes right to the trail on either side. This could make for a short walk as the trail becomes flooded after rains.
Birding, other animal, and flora opportunities abound including a greater variety of wildflowers than I have seen nearly anywhere.
How Far Will Your Hike Take You?
After about two-and-a-half miles, the trail narrows and becomes rather overrun. As a result, most people turn back. Still, I recommend going as far as you are comfortable. Some of the most interesting parts of the trail are in this portion. Soon, the trail that leads up a wooded knoll. Here I found an amazing variety of butterflies and dragonflies. I also experienced a strong, unfamiliar odor – more strange than unpleasant. The smell was produced not by carrion, but by the weeds, earth, and water cooking in the heat.
Gulf Fritallary Butterfly
Where Does Cone’s Dike Trail End?
Around the point, I called it a day. That’s because trail became overgrown enough to no longer continue in summer and without long pants and shirtsleeves. Yet the trail as mapped above with AllTrails is very easy and clear…it’s more a matter of preference how far you choose to press onward as the path narrows and succumbs to overgrowth.
I highly recommend this trail at all experience levels. Anyone can enjoy the diversity of animals and plants you will experience up close along this quiet and stunning trail!