Parks

 

We are lucky to live in a place that provides so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy Florida’s world-famous environment. Thanks to the culture of our city, there’s a park suited to just about everyone’s taste and abilities. The following list of our 20 some parks has been grouped to help you select a location for your next outing. Scroll through the list to see all the options or use Ctrl-F to find just what you’re looking for. Enjoy!

Something for Everyone – These parks have it all! No matter what you’d like to do outside or what your abilities are, these parks can accommodate your plans. They all have parking, public restrooms, wheelchair access, picnic areas, and phones. All are open from dawn to dusk (remember dusk is around 6:00pm in winter and 8:00 pm in summer) and all but one are accessible by public transportation. Two have playgrounds for small fry and one has open fields specially designed for more active games such as soccer, kite flying, and frisbee.

Loblolly Woods Nature Park – Located at 3315 NW 5th Ave. with an entrance at 34th St. and 5th Ave., this 159 acre park is both centrally located and large. Take the RTS #5 bus to get there. Although there’s no playground in the park itself there’s one across the street! Trails run along Hogtown Creek and you can follow the trail connecting NW 8th to NW 34th St. past the place where Hogtown and Possum Creeks converge.  There’s a 1/4 mile boardwalk between NW 16th Ave. and NW 8th Ave. too. And if that’s still not enough to get you out, this portion of the Hogtown Greenway is considered one of the best birding spots in the county.

 

Morningside Nature Center – Where it all began for us and where you’ll want to go again and again. This is Gainesville’s premier park. Located at 3540 E. University Ave. (take the RTS #11 bus), this 278 acre park showcases one of the last remaining examples of fire-dependent longleaf pine woodlands in the area. There are more than six miles of trails winding through sandhills, flatwoods, cypress domes, and areas where native vegetation is being restored. Although no pets or biking are allowed, there’s always something spectacular to see at Morningside including: the Living History Farm where enactors recreate life in Florida circa 1870 (Saturdays September thru May), wild-flower walks in the fall, and most of FoNP’s events. See the calendar on our home page to find out what’s happening next!

 

Possum Creek Park – Attention sports fans, this is your spot! Located at 4009 NW 53rd Ave., this 76 acre park is ready and waiting for your next game or family event. There’s no bus service but check out this list of features: mowed recreation fields for ball games, kite flying, frisbee,  you name it; wonderful kids playground and a picnic pavilion; jogging trail around the main field, plus scenic nature trails through the forest and flood plain of Possum Creek. It even has a contemporary skate park and off-leash pet area!  Come on … you know you wanna go!

 

Alfred A. Ring Park –  Located at 1801 NW 23rd Blvd. on the RTS #8 bus route, Ring Park has 21 acres and is a great family-centered location. The paths trace the course of Hogtown Creek and lead to a scenic overlook where visitors have a view of the spot where the clear waters of Glen Springs join the tannic waters of Hogtown Creek. There’s abundant urban wildlife, jogging/walking trails (no biking here), quiet benches for taking a break, picnic pavilion areas, and a playground for the kids.

Special Features – These parks each have something special about them, some feature that sets them apart. Some of the features, like wheelchair accessibility and playgrounds, are also available in other parks. Others, like horseback riding and fishing, can be found only at these locations in the park system. If your interest in the outdoors requires any of these features, why not try one of these locations?

Wheelchair Accessibility: (see also Loblolly, Morningside, Possum Creek, and Ring parks described elsewhere on this page)

Bivens Arm Nature Park – This 81 acre park at 3650 S. Main St. on the RTS #13 route, is one of Gainesville’s oldest but has recently been upgraded and enhanced with rebuilt boardwalks and overlooks, new hiking trails, new playground equipment (yes, there’s a playground), and other amenities. The park also boasts a picnic area and two marshes where wading birds display themselves.  Besides its wonderful features, Bivens Arm provides a gentle border between urban Gainesville and Paynes Prairie.

 

Boulware Springs Park and Historic Waterworks – This historic location once provided the water for the City of Gainesville. Boulware Spring produces 194,000 gallons of water a day which now flows into Payne’s Prairie. The park, located at 3300 NE 15th St. and accessible by the RTS #2 bus,  is a place where you can picnic, hike, bird watch, as well as tour the waterworks. Public restrooms and a phone are available and there’s plenty of parking.

Horse Back Riding and Distance Biking:

Boulware Springs Nature Park – Yes we have a city park that supports horseback riding! And, if you’re into distance bike riding along a paved trail through the landscape, BSNP has you covered too!  This 106-acre facility, located at 3300 NE 15th St. and accessible by the RTS #2 bus (for those of us without a horse or a bike), provides access to the 17-mile Gainesville-Hawthorn State Trail. This paved trail was once a railroad track that wove through the countryside between Gainesville and Hawthorn. Now its enjoyed by hikers, bike and horseback riders year round. The park has a large parking lot to unload your horse and leave your trailer. There’s a nice picnic area also for those who want a more rural location for their al fresco dining. Finally, this park joins the Historic Waterworks (see above) where you can tour the building that once sent the water from Boulware Spings into the city. Lots to see and plenty to do. What a great place!

Fishing:

Colclough Pond Nature Park – Pack up your pole and head along the shady trail to Colclough (say coke-lee) Pond. Located at 2315 S. Main St., this park is accessible via the RTS #16 and 17 routes. No parking is available and patrons are asked to walk/bike only on the sidewalk to get to the entrance.  This nature park connects to Audubon of Florida’s Colclough Pond Sanctuary.  In addition to providing bank fishing, the park serves to protect the shoreline of the pond and provides another great place to do some bird watching. Gone fishin’!

 

Palm Point Nature Park – This 17 acre park is located along the shore of Newnan’s Lake at 7401 Lakeshore Drive and has been referred to as “a true gem among Gainesville’s nature parks”. While there’s no bus service to this spot, it does have ample parking, picnic areas, phones, and hiking trails (bring Fido on a leash). And we haven’t even mentioned the fishing! Palm Point anglers are there for some of the best bank fishing close to town. You might see a gator or two. You will certainly see migratory birds and (seasonally) exceptional butterflies on the blooming wildflowers too! Don’t forget to turn off your computer before you head out to this wonderful park.

Playgrounds:  (see also Possum Creek and Ring Parks)

Green Acres Park – Looking for a place to take the kids where they can run around freely and enjoy a playground? Try this 37 acre park located at 3704 SW 8th Avenue (access from the deadend of SW 40th St. just south of SW 6th Place). You can take the RTS #5 route or drive; there’s parking available. Besides the playground, there’s an open field in the middle of this conveniently located park where you can play frisbee, fly a kite, or hold 3-legged races. Whatever you want to do!  Hiking, biking, and picnicking are all available here and pets are allowed on leashes. Take a quiet stroll along the trail that leads to the nearby Sugarfoot Conservation Area.  This is a great family park — enjoy it often!

Springtree Park – This little 12 acre spot at 2700 NW 39th Ave. (RTS #8 route) offers a playground, picnic area, and hiking trails.  The trails flow through a flatwoods area with tall pines and fern-covered slopes. Bring the dog on a leash and check out where Three Lakes Creek flows into Possum Creek.  Just the place for a quiet walk in the woods or a romp on the playground. Come anytime dawn ’til dusk. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Smaller Parks – Sometimes we just want to take a quick break, go to a place where we’re surrounded by nature, or perhaps hike with kids that can’t go long distances. The little jewel parks described in this section fit the bill to a “T”.  Stop by for a few minutes while you’re out and about or spend a day (a couple of them have picnic areas). Either way, it’s always good to get outside, right?!

29th Road Nature Park – Five acres of pure enjoyment located at 1502 NW 29th Road, this little beauty offers nature trails that take you into the headwaters of Hogtown Creek. Hop on the RTS #6 and 15 routes to get there. Bring the dog and/or your bike and enjoy trails that take you past fern-covered slopes with tall trees along the creek. Doesn’t that sound peaceful?

 

 

 

Broken Arrow Bluff – This little 11 acre spot is hidden between Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Lake Kanapaha. It’s official address is 5724 SW 46th Place and you can get there on the RTS #75 route. There is a small picnic area and trails that take you past limestone outcroppings and vistas of a sinkhole that empties Lake Kanapaha ground water into the aquifer. You’ll feel like William Bartram seeing wild Florida for the first time, so head on out!

 

 

Clear Lake Nature Park – Tucked away at 5480 SW 1st Ave., between the old University Avenue communities and SW 62nd Boulevard, is 14 acre Clear Lake park. The RTS # 20 route is the best way to get there because there’s no parking available. The park borders the Sugarfoot Prairie wetlands area and features shorter hiking trails that wind past majestic live oaks. You can hike, bike, walk the dog, and enjoy nature just minutes from busy downtown. Doesn’t that sound inviting?

 

 

John Mahon Nature Park – Located in the 4300 block of W. Newberry Rd. and accessible from the RTS #5 and 42 routes, this 10 acre park provides a loop trail through the woods and a picnic area. There is parking but please note that the park entrance is located at the back of the LifeSouth parking lot. Leashed pets are allowed and it’s a great spot for birding.

 

 

Cofrin Nature Park- The biggest of the small parks, 30 acre Cofrin Park is located at 4810 NW 8th Ave. and can be reached via the #5 and 43 RTS routes. Parking is available as are picnic areas and a public phone. Enjoy hiking on the half-mile trail through the forest and especially enjoy Beville Heights Creek and the seepage wetlands above it that support ferns and wildflowers.  What a great place to relax right off 8th Avenue! 

 

 

Take a Hike! – The parks in this section are larger and offer longer trails for the more adventurous hikers. Put on your boots, pack a lunch, and head out. You’re sure to see something amazing and memorable and feel great!

Duval Park – This new park is located in the 600 block of NE 21st Street and was bought with funds from the FL Communities Trust and developed by the city’s Public Works Department.  You’ll see a 2-acre storm-water pond built in 2010 to improve Lake Forest Creek and Newnan’s Lake. There are fully accessible trails overlooking the pond. Great new place to get your exercise!

 

 

Gum Root Park – Take a walk on the wild side in this 372 acre park located at 7300 NE 27th Avenue. There’s no bus service to this location but there is plenty of parking. The trails here lead hikers through almost every type of terrain in our neck of the woods. There’s a blackwater pond, floodplain swamp, xeric hammock, baygall, pasture and pine flatwoods to explore. And if that’s not enough, this park borders hundreds of acres of Florida conservation land. Naturally its a great place for birding and day hiking. Pack a lunch ’cause there’s lots to see!

 

Hogtown Creek Headwaters – The Hogtown Creek Headwaters Nature Park is getting a facelift!  Please be aware that the park will be closed to visitors during construction and signage will be posted to this effect. Improvements to the park will begin construction in early March through early June. This first phase of new construction will include utilities, a driveway, sidewalks, parking lot, restroom, emergency phone, exterior house repairs, stormwater pond, landscaping, and earthen trails. Other improvements that will be phased when funding becomes available will include a playground, pavilion, and tennis/volleyball court. If you have any questions about this project, please call Stefanie Nagid, Program Coordinator, at 352-393-8425. Thank you for your patience and we are sure you will enjoy the improvements!

San Felasco Park – Located at 6400 NW 43rd Way, this park has 194 acres to explore. There’s no bus service but there’s plenty of parking.  Management of San Felasco was recently transferred to the city from Alachua County.  This park has a playground, multiple grills, and picnic shelters plus trails and boardwalks that take you into the flat woods and cypress swamps northwest of Gainesville.  Across the road lies the southern piece of the greater San Felasco area that offers miles of trails that pass ancient sinks and meander through various types of forests. Bring the family, bring the dog, bring your picnic … you’re gonna have a great time!

 

Conservation Areas -Like wilderness areas in State and National parks, Gainesville’s three conservation areas protect delicate terrain and provide relatively undisturbed habitat for flora and fauna that share our environment. Please visit, but treat these areas like the special places they are. Take only photos and leave only footprints!

Flatwoods Conservation Area – The most accessible of the three areas, Flatwoods, comprises 71 acres with an entrance at 2010 NE 31st Avenue. The area is open from dawn to dusk and offers parking, biking and hiking trails, supports birding, and allows leashed pets. A mowed path along a series of drainage canals allows visitors to observe the natural communities found here. Maybe you’ll see a Florida Ringneck snake!

 

 

Split Rock Conservation Area – This very special 241 acre area has an entrance on SW 20th Ave. and is nominally open from dawn to dusk but has limited access. No parking is available and a guided tour appointment is required to unlock the gate. Tours can be arranged by calling NOD at 352-334-3326. Split Rock also contains portions of Hogtown Prairie, a vast wetland marsh which is seasonally flooded. Those lucky enough to visit this special area all agree it’s worth the time and trouble to see this magical space.

 

Terwilliger Pond Conservation Area – This undeveloped area at 460 SW 62nd Blvd. comprises 25 acres and provides no parking or maintained  trails. Biking and hiking are allowed, however no pets should be taken into the area. Those who venture in will see an ever-changing view of the beauties of nature. When the water table permits the pond sports native lotus plants and many water birds. During drier times the area is said to be alive with songbirds. Let us know what you see!

Want even more information? Click on the link below to open the official City of Gainesville Parks and Facilities page. Here you will find photos, maps, directions, special feature icons, and thumbnail descriptions of all the parks FoNP is proud to support. City of Gainesville Parks and Facilities page.  You might also like to check out this spreadsheet overview of all the available community facilities managed by Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.