De-stress: Run, bike Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Sweetwater Overlook

Sweetwater Overlook provides a great view of Paynes Prairie.

When running the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, I wear a hat and sunscreen and take a drink.

When running the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, I wear a hat and sunscreen and carry a drink and my iPhone.

I just received my Hike 100 Challenge pin in the mail.

The pins were sent to the more than 2,300 hikers who completed the Smokies Hike 100 Challenge in 2016 as part of the Centenniel Celebration of the National Park Service. I’m so glad I could be part of that hiking experience.

I love hiking in the Smokies but can hike there  only a few times during the year. For most of the year, I am enjoying the many outdoor activities available in north central Florida.

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One of my favorites is the Gainesville to Hawthorne Trail. The converted rails-to-trails paved path runs from Gainesville to the nearby town of Hawthorne, with a large portion of the trail going through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. I enjoy running or cycling the section of the trail from the La Chua trailhead toward Hawthorne.

LaChua Trail boardwalk

A boardwalk along the La Chua Trail provides a good viewing area of wildlife. (Can you see the alligator on the bank?)

In the last three days, I’ve been on the trail twice – once running and once cycling. What great weather – warm but not too hot and with no mosquitos. I heard goldfinches and sandhill cranes and saw pileated woodpeckers and cardinals.

When I did a cool-down walk on the boardwalk of the La Chua Trail, more than 30 alligators were sunbathing on the banks, and wading birds were catching an “early bird” dinner.

Being outdoors is a great way to be in contact with nature, de-stress, improve your fitness, and have time with family and friends. Be sure to check out the parks in your community for outdoor ventures.




  1. Great photos! Enjoyed the views of the trail.


    1. Judy – Thanks. I really enjoy those inspiring views & sharing the views with others.


  2. […] Earth Day was just the day to renew my Florida State Park card and then put it to use by visiting one of the nearby state parks to cycle on the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. […]


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