Paynes Prairie Preserve North Entrance
Payne's Prairie Preserve
Home to wild bison, horses, alligators, snakes and over 270 species of birds, this vast prairie in Central Florida with access points in Gainesville and Micanopy is a little-known state treasure. One of the most interesting and accessible places to go for an interpretive walk within the Prairie is the elevated boardwalk called the La Chua Trail in Gainesville. The pathway takes you above the Alachua Sink, a sink hole that's essentially the prairie's drainage system. When it's filled with water, it's a major gathering ground for alligators. You can often spot scores if not hundreds of the reptiles here. And at the end to the boardwalk, where it peters out into a dirt trail that follows a canal, you'll sometimes even see alligators sprawled out across the path. By then, of course, it's time to turn around.
By Terry Ward
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4801 Camp Ranch Rd, Gainesville, FL 32641, USA