Gator Spotting on La Chua Trail

This was my first (and only) gator experience in Florida.  A couple days after getting there, I finally stopped laying around and we went to the La Chua Trail in Paynes Prairie State Park.  I was excited to finally see gators!  And see gators I did.  This is a great place to look for them.

We set off on the short hike on La Chua Trail and I was immediately fascinated by the moss on the trees.  Yes.  The moss.  I’ve never seen moss on trees like that before and I love it.  Moss aside, the trail was really nice.  We saw a fair number of other people, but nothing too crazy.  The trail is 3 miles round-trip, but it’s flat, so it’s perfect for anyone and everyone.  There are parts that are grass, while some of it is boardwalk.

This is a great place to see wildlife.  We saw tons of gators, a deer, maybe some herons, wild horses, and a cottonmouth snake.  All of that was just to the overlook at the end, and of course all of it on the way back, too.  We even saw a super adorable baby gator!

I really enjoyed this trail and would definitely go back.  There is other hiking to do in the park in different areas as well that are just as awesome.  I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy morning or afternoon hike.

Helpful things:

  • Park entrance is $4 for one person and $6 for 2-8.
  • Be cautious of the alligators.  They are wild and well, alligators.
  • As always, bring water, especially in the hot and humid summer.
  • Of course, bring a camera!  There’s so much wildlife here, it’s crazy.
  • La Chua Trail is a great, easy hike in Gainesville.  It’s practically right in town and easy to get to.

Have you hiked La Chua Trail?  What did you think of it?  What is your favorite thing to do in Paynes Prairie?

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