One of the greatest aspects of Florida is the trails and prairies that are homes to thousands of different species not seen frequently elsewhere. Specifically, Payne’s Prairie is located in Micanopy and encompasses 21,000 acres and eight trails that offer hiking, fishing, horseback riding, bird watching, and biking. It was designated as the first Florida state preserve in 1971 and holds over 20 different biological communities. One trail in specific, La Chua Trail, is a 3-mile round trip trail that allows for an up-close view of hundreds of species, such as alligators, bison, birds, and wild horses. This hike allows you to soak up the sun, while also immersing yourself into the natural habitat of these animals. If you are looking for a quicker hike, the Wacahoota trail is only a quarter of a mile. This trail begins at the Payne’s Prairie visitor center and loops around to the prairie. While not as up-close as La Chua, this trail will give you a far view of the bison and wild horses. You will also encounter a pine forest, limestone boulders, live oaks, and Southern magnolia. For those bird watchers, these trails are home to over 300 different species of birds as well. If hiking is not quite your speed, you can get a quick trip into the Payne’s Prairie off of US Highway 441 and join the other cars in viewing the sunset beyond the plane. You may also be able to catch a glimpse of alligators in the water and wild horses grazing nearby. Whether it be for a picnic with a loved one or just a quick trip with the girls, this viewing strip of land offers a view that is hard to beat elsewhere. Aside from this view, Lake Wauburg is also located in Payne’s Prairie. This lake offers an incredible experience to people of all ages. Lake Wauburg offers canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, boating, and so many other activities. There are trails for mountain biking and fields/courts for sports that are bound to entertain every member of your family. If you are interested in camping, there is the Puc Puggy Campground within Payne’s Prairie. This campground allows RVs, trailers, and tents to set up and offers a variety of amenities, such as electricity and water hookups, showers, restrooms, ground grills, picnic tables, and a dump station. Whether you are planning for a quick trip, weekend adventure, date night, or family day, Payne’s Prairie has several trails and activities open to the public that will entertain every member of your crew.
-Written by Skylar Carter