This route is beautiful and can be different every time. There is essentially no traffic inside the park, and what cars you do see will be crawling along at 15 mph. You are more likely to get hit by a deer dashing across your path than a car. The last time I went here, my girlfriend and I just rode along the main road to the visitor center and we still saw seven deer. Even if you don’t see deer, the park itself is beautiful, and there are all kinds of other animals in there too. Once you are inside the park, there are several different trails that you can choose to hike or bike along. And after your ride you can head down to the lake and cool off there for a bit, just watch out for alligators! I’ve seen several gators along Cones Dike Trail. The only downside is each rider has to pay $2 to enter, but it is well worth it.
The Pearl Country Store is renowned for having some of the best barbecue around. Breakfast is great too and ridiculously cheap. If you aren’t interested in eating you can stop in and get a water bottle for your ride or gas for your car or a book about Florida’s history or…
The main entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is just up around the bend from Micanopy.
The lake is big and beautiful and full of alligators! Aaahh! Ok, I’ve actually never seen any gators in the lake, but I don’t doubt for a second that they are there.
The Visitors Center is in a really cool building. It looks like it was designed in the 70s to be futuristic. Now the vegetation has grown up around it and it looks sort of like a jungle outpost. Inside you’ll find small exhibits and staff full of useful information, as well as bathrooms.
Cruise along scenic Cholokka Blvd to the mighty 441.
The cars go fast, the shoulder is wide, yada yada yada. The best part about this stretch is you don’t have to stay on it for long.
Head into the park, stop and pay your $2 (ugh) and relax. The main road itself is pretty. It goes through a number of different environments, from reclaimed upland, to wide areas covered with palmetto scrub and towering ranks of sand pine trees.