Get ready for excellent nature viewing when hiking Sweetwater Preserve in Gainesville, Florida. Plenty of American Beech and oak to provide ample shade for most of the hike too.
It is really two hiking trail loops, an east and a west loop, connected by a bridge over Sweetwater Branch Creek to form a sort of figure eight for your hike. It has two entrances, a west entrance off the street where there is parking, and an east entrance accessible by parking at Gainesville Bike Trailhead Parking (Google Map below) near Boulware Springs State Park and turning right (southeast) up the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail a couple tenths of a mile. Taken together, the trails will lead you about 4 miles.
What Are the Trails Like Hiking Sweetwater Preserve?
The trails are relatively hilly for the region but common to Gainesville, with a good number of sub-trails. A map
Sweetwater Branch (Creek)
provided when they are in stock at the entrances helps you find your way, and the major intersections are numbered by posts.
Where Sweetwater Preserve really shines, however, is the pond overview on the East Trail Loop. A sign warns of alligators, and though I saw none that day, it’s an area rich in animal life. A bench allows you to sit back and enjoy the symphony of croaking frogs in summer months. Trail traffic is light to moderate with some joggers and people taking their dogs on walks in the creek area.