Size: 2883 acres
Date conserved: 2012 to present(several separate acquisitions)
Partner Organizations: Putnam Land Conservancy, Alachua County, Conservation Trust for Florida, Friends of Little Orange Creek, and the City of Hawthorne
Little Orange Creek Preserve & Nature Park is a partnership between Alachua Conservation Trust, Alachua County, Friends of Little Orange Creek, Putnam Land Conservancy, and the City of Hawthorne and to protect an extensive tract of undeveloped lands near Hawthorne, Florida. Alachua Conservation Trust is leading the management and acquisition for this project.
Little Orange Creek Preserve & Nature Park now covers nearly 2900 acres of the upper Little Orange Creek watershed, and protects a patchwork of diverse wetlands that feed into and form Fowlers Prairie including the pinelands and hammock that surround it.
Considerable progress in conserving this region has been made since the preserve was established, notable achievements include:
• The LOCP more than doubled in size through numerous acquisitions and a lot donation program.
• New nature center completed, and a children’s environmental education program started.
• Land managers planted over 140,000 longleaf pines.
• Partners approved the land management plan.
• Fire lines established, and burn program initiated.
• In January 2017, the preserve officially opened to the public with a network of trails running 2 miles.
There is considerable work ahead to return these lands to a more natural state, and the management of the entire complex of conservation lands will be closely coordinated between the various government and non-profit organizations involved. Large parts of Little Orange Creek Preserve are basin swamp with a mix of cypress, tupelo, and red maple. The uplands were historically a mix of sandhill and flatwoods that were steadily converted to planted pine many years ago. Restoration will involve thinning, prescribed burns, and planting. In addition, ACT is working with adjacent landowners and exploring the possibility of expanding the preserve in the future.
The rich variety of habitats supports a wonderful diversity of plants and animals. Bears regularly travel through the area, and have been photographed numerous times using trail cameras. Other large mammals include deer, coyotes, bobcats, and otters. The freshwater marshes and swamps provide excellent habitat for many species of wading birds and other wetland dependent species.
Address to trail head
Please use the following GPS coordinates to access the Kathy Cantwell Trail
• Little Orange Creek Preserve provides public trails for hiking and bicycling.
• The trails are unpaved, and in some places can be muddy, uneven, or wet.
• Dogs are welcome.
• Preserve closes at dark.