Paynes Prairie State Preserve / GoodeG Home / Trip Index

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is located off US 441 in Micanopy, Florida, 10 miles south of Gainesville, 34.5 miles from home to the visitors' center in the park. Pets are only allowed on the main road because the park is a very popular wildlife area.

For a two-night camping trip January 29-31, 2006, I took both the electric folding bike and the 3-speed pedal bike. Since I arrived at the park before check-in, I drove directly to the visitors' center where an observation tower is located a short distance away. The tower provides several levels of a scenic view of the sunken prairie and wildlife.

Observation Tower

There was a good rain the first night and the resurrection ferns on the live oak branches went from a dull brown to a glowing green. Picture was taken from the tower looking down on the branches.

Resurrection Ferns

Using binoculars, I saw the herd of wild horses beyond the swampy area where I could not use the bike. Seven deer were grazing along one of the bike trails. I did not see any of the buffalo or wild cattle.

Wild Horses

White Tailed Deer

The Cone's Dike Trail is used for hiking and cycling, but the entrance was a narrow inlet for hikers and a locked farm gate. Bicycles had to be lifted over the gate to gain access to the trail. I used the folding bike to squeeze through the hikers entrance and was able to bike a few miles on the black gravel road before encountering the swampy area where the water was flowing. The only spider found was in the women's restroom.

Cone's Dike Trail


When I first arrived at the campsite, a cardinal started attacking my outside rear view mirror and I placed cloth bags over both bags immediately. On my last day in camp, I forgot to replace one of the bags and I watched the female cardinal doing its attack on the mirror while the male just hopped around on the ground looking for insects.

One night I heard a great horned owl in the campground and phoned my daughter in Austin, Texas. What a coincidence that was the same night she had a pair of great horned owls serenading each other in her yard. Also that night all the door locks on the Westy opened at 1:17 am when a weather front moved quickly through with wind and rain. It only happened once, but I stayed awake for two hours waiting for a repeat performance of the doors continually unlocking that occurred on Little Talbott Island.

Female Cardinal

Male Cardinal

There was a boardwalk over park of Wauberg Lake close to the campground. It was a perfect place to watch the birds and other wildlife. One day there were four snakes basking in the little bit of sunlight. Another day I watched the anhingas fishing and drying. Also watched the bald eagles and cormorants and other smaller birds.


Bald Eagle

The boardwalk also continues into the .85 mile Lake Trail and I met a pleasant couple of snowbirds who were hiking from the campground to the visitors' center.



On one of the rainy days, I had the opportunity to join a large group of state park volunteers who had a workship to prepare table decorations for the Volunteer Appreciation Weekend at Paynes Prairie March 24-26. We gathered at the lovely home of one of volunteers and they divided the group into several classes for weaving palm baskets, creating birds and fish, and constructing chickees for the 80+ tables in the "Lean and Green" theme using native materials.

Volunteers at Work

I drove a total of 88.5 miles on the Westy and biked 14.5 miles on the electric bike. After checking out Jackson's Gap Trail and finding it very sandy, I did not use the 3-speed as I planned.

More Trips to Paynes Prairie

As soon as I was able to drive with my new knee, I returned to Paynes Prairie in March to get one more camping trip before the Alaska cruise in May.

After the cruise, back to Paynes Prairie in June, but my trip was cut short because of Hurricane Alberto warnings. My last bike ride there was in a wind, rain, and dust storm. The park is so near to home, days trips are also very enjoyable.

Paynes Prairie State Preserve / GoogeG Home / Trip Index