Donald Forgione, Park Manager
Thank you for your interest in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Our park rangers and volunteers are looking forward to your visit. Whether you are visiting for the day or plan on camping with us for a week, Paynes Prairie has much to offer. This is a great time to explore the park. With sunny days and warm nights, you and your family can immerse yourselves in The Real Florida.
We are excited about several projects that we hope will enhance your visit. There have been ongoing renovations and improvements made to the campsites in the Puc Puggy Campground. Repairs and repaving have been completed on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. A habitat restoration project will be noticeable along the park drive. This project involves harvesting selected pine trees from an unnatural dense stand in the forest. The removal of these trees will allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and will increase the plant diversity of that area. With an increase of plant diversity will come an increase in animal diversity. While the area of the project is relatively small, 55 acres compared to the size of the park at over 21,500 acres, it is part of our commitment to restore and preserve the unique flora and fauna of Paynes Prairie. We are planning for septic system repairs in the campground during Fall 2018, so you may notice that campsites are currently not reservable between July 15, 2018 and December 31, 2018. As we have a better idea of exactly when the repairs will take place, we will be able to further narrow down the date range that reservations are not available.
Water levels are currently high on the prairie, and that's a great thing for the park! Periods of naturally-occuring high water have played an important role in maintaining the unique and significant ecosystem at the prairie. Be sure to visit La Chua Trail for a rare opportunity to walk over the water on the raised boardwalk and experience the prairie while water levels are still high. The views are beautiful, and it's a great place and time of year for seeing wildlife at the park. The grassy portion of the trail past the boardwalk remains closed due to high water, but this trail is still well worth the visit.
So load up the family and the kids down the road, and come get a little park on ya, at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.