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Happy trails to you! Explore the best bike trails in Gainesville
By Whitney Butler

Located in north-central Florida, Gainesville is home to some of the best bike trails in the state. Twisting and turning through several nature preserves and parks, Gainesville’s bike trails range in skill level so that all who come to Gainesville can enjoy the scenery and biodiversity that make the region so unique. 

Here’s a list of the biking trails to enjoy on your next trip to Gainesville:

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
When it comes to cross-country-style biking, there’s no substitute. Located in northwest Gainesville, the San Felasco Hammock Preserve is one of the best places to hit the dirt in Florida, featuring more than 20 miles of single-track trails and challenging changes in elevation. Unique natural features include the hammock woodland, one of the only forests remaining in Florida. With delicate wildlife afoot in the park like bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes and turkey, parts of the preserve are restricted. Mountain bikers will want to head to the northern third of the park where several trails (Cotton Tail, Cellon Creek Trail, Tung Nut Loop Trail and Hammock Hub) are designated for off-road biking. 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
This park was Florida’s first state preserve and contains several biological ecosystems that support a unique balance of wildlife and plant species. Enjoy four separate trails (Chacala, Bolen Bluff, Jackson's Gap and Cone's Dike) that explore the various terrains and habitats. The Paynes Prairie bike trails are fairly well maintained throughout the year and are great for bikers of all ages and experience levels. The visitor’s center is a great resource where staff can provide suggestions and help pick the right trail for you.

La Chua Trail
No trip to Gainesville would be complete without checking out the wild gators! And one of the best places to do that is on La Chua Trail. This landform has an unusual twist for a prairie—a drain called Alachua Sink. In times of drought, water collects at this end of the prairie, as do the alligators. La Chua Trail provides an excellent place for wildlife watching, and includes an elevated boardwalk for bikers and hikers. Round-trip this trail is a scenic three miles, surrounded by plum trees, hardwood forest and wetlands. La Chua Trail is suitable for beginning or young bikers, but do stay on the path! Wild bison, horses and alligators roam freely. 

River Rise Preserve State Park
If you’re a cross-country biker who likes a challenge, don’t miss the exciting multi-use trails at River Rise Preserve State Park. Explore 35 miles of sandy, rooted and muddy trails with swift elevation changes that will get your heart pumping. Surrounded by quiet woods and trees, visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife along the river trails. In addition to extreme biking, this park permits river fishing and camping. 

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail
For bikers who prefer a less strenuous day out on the trail, the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail is an old railbed that runs 16 miles from Gainesville to east Hawthorne. The railbed has been filled in and is an easy ride for most bikers looking to experience the natural beauty of Gainesville without the dirt road. Starting at the trailhead in Gainesville and ending two blocks from the Hawthorne Historical Museum, the trail makes it easy for bikers who want to take in some local history along with the scenery. 

There’s a trail for everyone in Gainesville! From here to there and back again, there’s no better way to explore the natural grandeur and scenic beauty of Gainesville than on a bike. 

PICTURED: Cycling in Alachua County
Photo Courtesy of Visit Gainesville
PICTURED: The Gainesville Hawthorne Trail
Photo Courtesy of Arkorn Soikaew
PICTURED: The Gainesville Hawthorne Trail
Photo Courtesy of Arkorn Soikaew