So, after the NE Florida Hang of last weekend, I decided to look through the St. John's Water Management District website for possible hang spots close to me here in Gainesville. Sure enough, there was one less than twelve miles outside of town, right off of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Rails-to-Trails trail.
My intention was to leave early this morning, probably around ten-ish, on the bike and scout out the trails and group campsite at the Longleaf Flatwoods Reserve. Unfortunately, my alarm failed to wake me (guess I needed sleep more than I'd thought).
Due to equipment failure, I didn't actually get on the bike until 2 PM . Still, the heat today was not terrible, and I saw many other users on the trail. Bicycles are the most popular, with the "iron thigh" crowd of Gainesville doing their best to top twenty miles an hour through the trail. Personally, I take a somewhat slower approach to my riding, but, hey, the usual acronyms apply. There are quite a few folks who go out there on longboards or by foot, as well.
The ride out was uneventful, though I did try to take a few videos of the trail as I was riding--something new for me. Most of 'em didn't turn out that well, since I was paying more attention to what was going on with traffic and my own ride than the video recorder. Meh. I'll figure out a way to mount the thing next time.
About eight miles out on the trail, I came to County Road 325. Making a right onto the road, I then rode south for just under two miles (it was 1.8 by my GPS). That section of road was somewhat challenging, in that it most emphatically did not have a shoulder. However, traffic was light enough that I never felt I was in danger.
Reaching the Reserve area, I parked the bike and began the hike into the piney woods. Just over a mile later, I was standing at the campsite. It is perfect, with a fire ring, water pump (note: the water is not potable from the pump and needs to be treated before consumption), and picnic table. There are several sets of trees that are just about perfectly spaced for hammocking strewn about the site.
After that, I explored the trails for a bit, hiking about another three miles before returning to the bike and heading back home. It seems like a wonderful place to hike and hang, and I think I will be sponsoring a Greater Gainesville hang somewhere here in the near future.