Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Biking around the Prairie

Thursday April 2, 2015
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Micanopy, Florida




Today is our final day here at Paynes Prairie and we’re staying close to home.  First thing is to bike over to the Observation Tower to see if any of the big three are out this morning.  We’ve already seen the buffalo so that leaves the cracker cattle and the wild horses.

The park roads are wonderful for biking.  There is little traffic.   We mosey along at a leisurely pace.










We park the bikes at the bike stand just off the VC parking lot and head down the trail to the Tower.



It’s our lucky day, a small group of the horses is out on the prairie.  They are those little brown dots but with binoculars and the camera, we can see them.  I do hope they come and clean up the trenches made up next to the platform when they were rebuilding it.   The horses often came up this close to graze when we were here last time.












From here we continue on down the lovely Wachoota Trail back to the parking lot.  This trail has some BIG trees with great roots.




On our last visit, we saw the Eagles nest high up in a tree, visible from the path to the restroom.  We know the eaglets have surely flown by now but we check the nest just to be sure.   Those nests are HUGE.   Looks like the size of a Volkswagen beetle from here.






We pick up our bikes and head on down the Cones Dike Trail to see the Prairie up close.  The ranger at the VC has told us that it is bikeable.  There are quite a lot of roots on this section of the trail.  We have hybrid bikes but really need wider tires for trails like this.




What she did not tell us is that there is a gate and the only way to bike it is to lift your bike over the fence.



Not only that, but the lift over spot is inconveniently placed in the trees.



This would be pretty tricky for a single person to do.  I took this picture and then rushed over to accept the bike on the other side of the fence.




One down, one to go.



No horses, cattle or buffalo would be able to get through here.  Even some of the folks on the first episode of The Biggest Loser would not fit.




From here the trail is hard packed sand with some lose spots, also difficult for thinner tires.




I wasn’t expecting to see small marshy ponds here but this is the first wildlife we spot.





And this is the second.





And this, in another pond, is the last.  One pond to an Alligator I guess.






We ride on and get some good looks at the prairie but after nearly 2 miles, it isn’t so very interesting in the heat of the early afternoon so we head back.  As we round the corner for the last stretch before the fence gate I spy the Observation Tower there among the trees.  If any of the big three were out here we’d be pretty close to them.  Maybe later in the afternoon when it’s cooler.




Observation tower from the other side.



We get the bikes over the fence with less trouble the second time, bike UP the hill and David checks the map for the Jackson Trail




The Jackson Trail has even more roots and is less flat.  David is tiring so we cut it short and later find out that had we just gone a little further, we  would have seen the Jackson Honeymoon Cottage.  Darn.   Well next time we’ll know where it is and we will probably hike.


We do enjoy the wetlands on our way back home.   They are all along the roads.



After dinner, we bike over to Lake Wauberg for our last sunset this time from the board walk.  I still find it interesting that the darkest pictures are before the sun has set or just before night fall.  I know why this is but still …..  The clouds put on quite a beautiful show tonight as well.








As the waters reflected the colors I see this watcher below me.





Sun down and the colors are muting.



Every one is heading home.  We are too.   What a great sunset send off from Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  Hope we will be able to have a 3rd visit here.   Tomorrow we are on the road again.




  1. I sure couldn't have gotten my bike over that blockade. Nice sunset pictures!

  2. Still no Cracker Cattle, but a nice send off with the glorious sunset.

  3. ah. . .biking back up the hill. . .the very reason I gave up my bike. . .hills were just beyond my endurance. . .LOL!

    The alligator seems to be saying, I see you watching me, watching you. . .another great day in your world!

  4. Another lovely day in the prairie even if the crackers were not visible. You are so right the gorgeous sunsets are bidding goodbye with a smile.
    The last pic of Ally is just to make sure you have actually left and it can relax without any other humans around.

  5. Love all the photos of the gators!! They really fascinate me for some reason. That eagle nest is huge! Amazing! Great last day:)

    Sherry, here is the website for the kayak/bike rack I saw.

  6. We really enjoyed biking the Cone Dike trail, too -- but hoisting our bikes over the fence was a pain! We were lucky to see the wild horses on the trail on our way back -- there was a friendly and curious colt in the herd. I remember dodging lots of horse and bison poop on the trail. Payne's Prairie is a wonderful place and I'm glad you've shared it with us so that we can relive it. Your sunset photos are absolutely gorgeous.

  7. You have really brought Paynes Prairie to life for us. I saw one of those cattle gates for the first time on a hike in the Smokey Mountains. Great job getting the bike over!! Love the sunset photos!!

    Safe travels....

  8. Much to enjoy here and you have captured it well. Very relaxing place to be in very natural surrounding! Just my kind of place. Maybe next time we will be able to get to the observation deck on the La Chua trail. ;)

  9. It would not surprise me to see those trees "walking around" on the those huge bared roots - too many Disney movies I guess :-) I'm still in awe at the combination of wildlife in the area. Horses and alligators together just seems weird. Good thing I'm getting "out there" myself! Love the pic of the wetlands, and the sunset shots are breathtaking. For all that orange to turn to lavender.........magic.

  10. Just love a nice bike trail like that. Very nice sunset pictures!

  11. It looks so peaceful there. You've seen no shortage of gators!

  12. The tree roots are amazing, as is the eagle's nest. Terrific sunset photos.

  13. One gator per pond? I guess they don't like to share... ;c)

    We're looking to upgrade our folding bikes (almost useless) to full size bikes and are torn between hybrids and full off road bikes. We're leaning away from the hybrids right now, but check back in 10 minutes and we'll probably be leaning the other way. :cO

  14. I see that there was a walking pass thru built into the fence line. Rather than lifting bikes over the fence I would think you could stand the bike up on its rear wheel and walk it thru the pass thru. I have not confronted such an obstacle but that works for getting a bicycle onto an elevator turning around and then walking it back out when reaching my floor.

  15. now I got an email notice for this blog update yesterday. . .but it just now showed up on my blog feed. . .shows 33 minutes ago. . .that is weird!

  16. Nice shots of the horses with your camera!! Lovely prairie colors and sunset. Gorgeous! You sure are right that the eagle's nest is huge!

  17. We just watched a program on Nature about birds building nests- all kinds of birds from hummingbirds to osprey. Really cool. The hummingbirds use spider web silk in theirs. Love the pictures of just the alligators heads. Thge sunset is gorgeous! XXXOOO


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