Size: 606 acres
Date conserved: several acquisitions between 2005 to 2017
Partner Organizations: Florida Communities Trust, Alachua County Forever, and Paynes Prairie State Park
Prairie Creek Preserve and the surrounding 1150 acres were purchased by Alachua Conservation Trust from 2005 to 2017. Over 500 acres of the property have been added to Paynes Prairie Preserve Park, and the remainder comprises Prairie Creek Preserve, a 606-acre nature preserve that encompasses Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, a natural burial ground that also conserves land.
Prairie Creek drains Newnans Lake, one of the largest lakes in north Florida, towards Paynes Prairie State Preserve and Orange Lake. Upland areas include flatwoods, mesic and hydric hammocks, and wetlands that include cypress swamps, depression marshes, and blackwater streams. The basin provides a corridor along an important flyway through this part of the state – annual bird surveys always find large and diverse populations of migrating and local birds. Wildlife seen recently include: Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Gopher Tortoise, American Alligator, Golden Mouse, River Otter, Florida Black Bear. There is also great floral diversity within the projects boundaries, with aquatic plants such as blue-flag iris, water lilies, lotus, pickerel week and lizard's 'tail in showy blossom in the Spring.
Prairie Creek Preserve has a well-maintained trail network that winds through a wide variety of habitat types. Areas that were previously in planted pine are in the process of being restored, and you may notice signs of prescribed fire within these areas. Management activities also include planting Longleaf pine and Wiregrass.
Trail head addresses
Access Prairie Creek Preserve by parking at Prairie Creek Lodge at 7204 SE CR 234, Gainesville, FL 32641
To access Witness Tree Junction trail head please park in front of the Gainesville Hawthorne Trail at the intersection of CR 2082 and CR 234 or use the following GPS coordinates: 29.596036, -82.228025
To access Kelly Crossing directly you must enter by bike or foot from the Gainesville Hawthrone Trail. There is no vehicle parking.
• Prairie Creek Preserve provides public trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding.
• The trails are unpaved, and in some places can be muddy, uneven, or wet.
• Dogs are welcome.
• Preserve closes at dark.