Walking the greens at Turkey Creek Golf Club has to be the most popular way to get out in nature in Turkey Creek, Gainesville’s premier golf community.
But for folks looking for a real forest bath, the neighborhood abounds in protected green spaces. Each of these serene nature walks are within a very short drive of Turkey Creek.
San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
San Felasco Hammock Preserve connects visitors to 7,000 acres of hiking trails in what is one of Florida’s largest remaining mature hardwood forests. The sprawling preserve offers easy walks through wetlands and mature forests, as well as outdoor adventures for horseback riders and off-road cyclists.
Two-thirds of the park is set aside for hiking only, to maintain the delicate hammock ecosystem. Visitors who tread gently may encounter bobcats, white-tailed deer, gray foxes, turkeys and the many species of songbirds that inhabit the 18 natural communities found in the preserve.
- How to get there: The hiking trailhead is located 4 miles NW of Gainesville on State Rd 232 at 11101 Millhopper Rd. The horseback and bicycle trailheads are located just south of Alachua off US 441.
- Entrance fee: $4 per vehicle, $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists
Turkey Creek Preserve
The latest addition to Turkey Creek’s bevy of natural amenities, Turkey Creek Preserve opened to the public in March of 2021. With its wide, shaded trails crisscrossing bubbling streams, the 375-acre park offers residents of Turkey Creek and folks from around the area the opportunity to get away from it all without going too far.
The 4-mile Turkey Creek loop is an easy, serene half-mile walk along Turkey Creek. The Pineland Loop travels through former slash pine plantation being restored back to upland pine habitat. For those looking to add a workout to their visit, the Fitness Trail offers seven exercise stations.
The trails are bike-friendly, with the exception of Turkey Creek Loop.
According to Alachua County, “The preserve was purchased to protect a variety of upland and wetland habitats including the headwaters of four local creeks (Turkey Creek, Blues Creek, Possum Creek, and Hogtown Creek) which provide wildlife habitat and support aquifer recharge.”
- How to get there: The main entrance is on 93rd Avenue, with a pedestrian entrance at 10182 NW 59th Terrace. (There is no parking on 59th Terrace.)
- Entrance fee: free
Turkey Creek is a 1,100-acre golf development located 20 minutes north of Gainesville along US-441. Nestled between pine forests and wetlands midway between Gainesville and Alachua, Turkey Creek combines the open vistas and leisurely pace of a woodsy setting with proximity to all that Gainesville has to offer.
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Gainesville’s iconic Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park features shaded trails winding around a collapsed sinkhole that nourishes a miniature rainforest ecosystem. The boardwalk, completed in June 2019, provides an accessible way to explore the depths of this geological singularity.
Fed by little waterfalls and slow-moving creeks, the sinkhole nourishes an ecosystem found in very few other places in the world. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the fox sparrow, grey treefog and golden-banded skipper.
It gets cooler and quieter as you descend the 132 steps of the boardwalk, while the vegetation becomes more lush. Even during the hottest summer months, Devils Millhopper is an oasis of cool and tranquility.
- How to get there: The park is located off County Road 232, also known as NW 53rd Avenue and Millhopper Road, northwest of the University of Florida.
- Entrance fee: $4 per vehicle, up to 8 visitors. $2 pedestrians and bicyclists.
Yoga at Devil’s Millhopper
Looking to change up your workout routine? Head over to Devils Millhopper at 10a.m. on the first Saturday of every month for a free guided yoga under a canopy of hardwood trees.The class runs from December through May and is open to all skills levels. Did we mention it’s completely free? All you have to do is bring a mat and meet in the courtyard parking lot.
More Fun Stuff To Do in Turkey Creek
- Scuba Monkey Dive Center – Gainesville’s best scuba resource, they offer all the gear you need to get into scuba diving, as well as a heated practice pool.
- Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary – Kari and Andrew have put their heart and soul into giving the best care for these monkeys. The sanctuary is a great place to volunteer and learn more about our mischievous primate friends.