My camping equipment
Friday, May 19, 2023
Spring Trip 2023, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
A note from the author;
The links in this post are colored purple, They will provide further information related to the subjects I discuss in my narrative. Enjoy.
Located just south of Gainesville, Florida Paynes Prairie stands out as a diamond in the ruff. At first glance one would assume that the park is located on a open plain with few trees and not much more. Do not be fouled by the name, the park is a oasis of nature from it's highland forests, abundant lakes, nature trails and views of the prairie that are vast and compelling.
From the observation tower you can look out over the vast expanse of the prairie and spot the herds of Buffalo or wild horses feeding off the lush vegetation. The landscape is unique with bodies of water that are part of a giant fresh water sink that feeds the Florida limestone aquifer with abundant fresh water. The level of the water in the area goes up and down depending on how much rainfall from tropical storms during the summer leave in the area during the rainy season.
Views of Prairie from the observation tower
Puc Puggy Campground is located in a area of dense trees with sites that our spacious and private. I was able to set up my Clam and still have lots of room to enjoy the surroundings.
The two bathhouses have showers and our well kept by the parks staff. The campground is in walking distance to a large picnic area and the boat ramp with access to Lake Wauburg. There are two one way loops with 49 campsites of which 19 to 33 are walk in tent only. Each campsite has a table, fire ring and grill.
Lovely Lake Wauburg is a lovely and accessible by car or foot for those who would like to enjoy a outing on the water. I enjoyed a paddle on the lake with my Wilderness Tarpon 140 kayak which I have had for a number of years. On the north shore of the lake is the Lake Wauburg Recreational Facility, dedicated to the alumni of Florida State University in Gainesville, FL. I saw several paddle boats and kayakers from the facility who were enjoying the afternoon on the lake. There is a fishing pier near the boat ramp within walking distance from the campground. It is a great place to catch some of the lakes abundant fish for those who enjoy angling.
University of Florida Reactional Facility on the north shore of Lake Wauburg
Paynes Prairie Visitors Center is one of the best interpretive centers in the state. You will find many exhibits that chronicle the wildlife, plant life and the abundant bird population. The center has a comfortable theater with an interpretive film of the seasonal changes that create the unique character of the park. A lovely nature trail brings you to the center from the parking lot. Once at the visitors center there is a paved trail to the 50 foot observation tower with views of the south rim of the prairie. The entrance to the lovely paved WacahootaTrail is adjacent to the tower, great for seeing the parks extensive bio diversity.
Wild Horses on the prairie taken from the observation tower
Paynes Prairie Visitors Center
Back viewing deck of the prairie's south rim
Paynes Prairie is a jewel in ruff. Even if you not a camper a stop to enjoy the park is well worth it if you enjoy nature in all it's many forms. It is not far from Interstate 75 just south of Gainesville, FL. You many even catch a glimpse of some of the parks abundant wildlife wondering on the prairie including the parks extensive bird population.