What: Sweetwater Preserve
Where: From I-75 at Williston Rd at the south end of Gainesville, drive east on Williston Rd (SR 331), crossing US 441 after 4.3 miles. Continue around the curve past the western entrance to the preserve and the traffic light. Turn right onto SE 4th St, which curves slightly to become SE 21st Ave. Turn right on SE 15th St and continue a half mile to the park entrance. The first entrance leads to the parking lot nearest the trail; the second, to the parking lot near the historic waterworks and restrooms.
Time: 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. every day
After a stressful week spent in the library, I was aching to unwind somewhere new. I decided to visit Sweet Water Preserve, which has over 59,550 acres of conservation land. It also features over 20 miles of trails and hiking land. On the main trail, a brochure stated that the trail was once a rail road which now became a hiking, biking and equestrian trail. The trail was created as part of the Alachua County Environmental Protection campaign, a program used to promote green areas in the county.
One of my favorite parts of this trail is that it has the best shade! While it was a hot day out, I was able to cool off in between my running and enjoy the canopy of trees above me. The trail had very little rocks, but the path was incredibly clear.
One of the highlights of the trail was the river that was situated along the left hand side of the pathway. Wooden benches were placed overlooking the water. At first glance, the water appears to look murky and unclear. Upon further glance, however, the water is actually so clear that the bottom of the stream can be seen. Since the bottom of the floor is sand, the water appears dirty. While the trail is right off of Williston Road, surprisingly the trail was incredible peaceful.
On the path, I met an explorer who was simply enjoying the day. Here’s my interview with Carrie Smith, a 20 year old civil engineering major from Germany.
Q: Are you an avid runner?
A: Absolutely not! I just enjoy finding new places in Gainesville.
Q: How did you hear about Sweetwater Preserve?
A: Honestly, I’ve been following a couple of websites. I read Florida Hikes, a website that has tons of hiking trails for people to visit.
Q: You mentioned you were a civil engineering major. How do you relax?
A: I definitely try to get away from the busyness of campus. I feel like I spend forever in the library Monday through Friday.
Q: What piece of advice would you tell someone who doesn’t like to run?
A: I hate to run too, so I can definitely relate. I never regret going out and seeing some place new, so I’m all about the power walk. You don’t have to run eight miles to feel like you got a good workout. I just enjoy the quiet time.
Carrie Smith, 20, fixes her hair before walking through the canopy of Sweetwater Preserve.
For more information on other hiking and walking trails, check out Florida Hikes! Here’s their review on Sweetwater: http://floridahikes.com/sweetwater-preserve