Whether you're an avid cyclist or a casual cruiser, the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail is not to be missed. You may park at the trailhead in Gainesville or Hawthorne (or a few places in between) and enjoy 16+ miles of cycling along a well maintained paved trail. You will often encounter a variety of wildlife while cycling past cypress swamps, hammocks, pine forest and even a segment on the prairie. We have seen turtles, gopher tortoises, rough green snakes, brown snakes, anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron (and many other birds!), otter, alligators and water moccasins along the trail. I've found that an approximate 30 miles round trip on the trail will take around 2 hours and 40 minutes at a moderate to medium pace, including a few short breaks for water or a piece of fruit. It is much faster for professional or very experienced cyclists.
The Hawthorne trail is truly a magnificent experience. Most of the trail is extremely peaceful, quiet and meditative. It is very well maintained. I've done the full trail from Hawthorne to downtown Gainesville and the praire overlook total trip (over 33 miles) many times and the ride is always an exhilarating and restorative experience. The trail goers are always friendly and mind the "rules of the road". If you're visiting the area or if you're a local resident who enjoys cycling, please do not miss this amazing FREE experience. There is even a spur that goes into downtown Gainesville (approximately 2 miles from the S.E. 15th street trailhead) that is really enjoyable.
My favorite part of the trail is going through Boulware Springs City Park area in Rochelle. Rochelle is one of the most peaceful places I've been in this area of Florida. There is a segment of the trail that is dead quiet and there is a sense of utter ascension, a complete relief of the world's weight being on your shoulders. I feel that I can actually breathe and simply BE, in the most joyous mindframe. There are a few homes for sale in this area (very few. It is a small area) and I have imagined relocating to enjoy this peaceful vibration and be close to the trail. I enjoy walking and biking so living near this trail would be awesome.
Please, treat yourself to this exceptional experience. There is even a segment where fishing is allowed (near Kate's Fish Camp). There are horse friendly trails and it is a great walking/hiking trail for those who prefer to travel on foot. With a 5 to 4.5 star rating on Trail Link and Trip advisor, you're sure to experience why this trail is so highly regarded for yourself.
Traillink reviews: https://www.traillink.com/trail/gainesville-hawthorne-state-park-trail/
Trip Advisor reviews: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34242-d7374639-Reviews-Gainesville_Hawthorne_State_Trail-Gainesville_Florida.html