Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Return to Florida's Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Returned to Puc Puggy Campground on the southeast corner of Gainesville after a long absence.  The campground is still well maintained and the staff is as friendly and helpful as ever.

We returned to the same site, #18, we've had before as it is very level hardpacked sand/limestone.  Previously it was a full shade site, however, the largest tree has been removed due to rot and now it is a partial shaded site.  Still a good site, though.


The loop is paved. The sites are all back-in and have a lot of shade and side privacy.  There is 30/20 amps and water.  A few have 50 amp, none have sewage.


There are no cabins here, but there are 14 nice tent sites in three separate loops off the main loop with water and electric.  Plus along the Chacala Trail there is primitive and equestrian tent camping.

The day park area contains a playground,

two large pavilions and a 3 grill pit, plus several picnic tables, small grills, restrooms,


and a small boat ramp into Lake Wauberg.  Fishing and boating (no gas-powered engines)

Saturday evenings from November through February campers can enjoy ranger-led campfire programs about Paynes Prairie's cultural and natural resources at the campfire amphitheater. 

The main attraction this trip was to go up the 50' observation tower for a view into the prairie.  It had been closed on previous visits.

Heading to the top.

Worth the return trip.  View from the top. Early morning on the prairie.

And, way out there seven wild horses.  About a mile and a half away near La Chua Trail.

The lavender field just below the top of the photo is a sea of Pickerel Weed.

Close to the observation tower is an abundance of Wild Hibiscus.

The Observation Tower from Cone's Dike Trail inside the prairie.

Near the tower is the newly renovated Visitor Center. Inside are several items telling about the prairie preserve including, books, on-going videos, brochures, dioramas, telescope to view the prairie, and rangers and volunteers to answer questions and talk story about the prairie.

The center looking from the prairie edge.  There is an outside deck to sit and observe a section of the prairie.

The view from the lawn in front of the visitor center deck. A group of wild horses were along a narrow trail that passes along the fence in the foreground the day before.

There are several miles of trails in the campground area ranging from .3 miles to 8 miles.  This area is the trailhead for the Chacala Trail.  This trail is for hikers, bikers (fat-tire) and equestrians.  The trail has three segments with marked intersections at various distances so you can create your own path if you don't want to do the whole 5.88 miles.

The trails vary from narrow, 

to wide.  

Easy going (there's one of those intersection markers),

to a little challenging with roots, rocks, elevation changes.  Part of Jackson's Gap Trail.

Cone's Dike Trailhead.  This trail, a paved 8 mile round trip, is for hikers and bikers only.  No pets allowed.  You enter through a locked gate and you are now in the prairie, a wilderness area.  Unrestrained wildlife on the trail.  Very strict rules.  Utmost, if a bison, horse or alligator is on the trail...STOP.  Do not attempt to pass.

And, there are a few miles of paved roads within the campground, day park, and to the visitor center and observation tower.  While biking this road we were startled by a deer bounding out of the woods and across the road.  Ride cautiously. 

 Outside the park area are two trails into other sections of the prairie.  La Chua Trail (southeast corner of Gainesville) and Bolen Bluff Trail (off Hwy 441).  Each is about 3 miles one way. Foot trail only.  No pets.

Things seen along the way.

Palamedes Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Gopher Turtle heading for home.

A doe on the trail.

A once majestic (maybe) tree on the prairie.

Great Blue Heron

Ready for take off.

Interrupting her lunch.

Blue Dasher

Eastern Amberwing

Huge snapping turtle half hidden along the road.

Gnarly limb. 

No comments:

Post a Comment