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As a university town, bicycling is a frequent mode of transportation in Gainesville. The city has an expanding network of trails, rail-trails, and buffered bike lanes as part of its program to develop alternate forms of transportation and enhance safety. In southeast Gainesville, skirting the University of Florida and running on a former rail corridor through residential and industrial areas, the Kermit Sigmon Bike Trail, Depot Avenue Rail-Trail, and Waldo Road Greenway join to provide 6.6 miles of continuous biking, linking to the University of Florida Greenway Trail, the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, and Gainesville Regional Airport. (Map link and photos below.)
Map link... Biking in Gainesville FL
Location: Alachua County (Gainesville)
Mileage: 6.6++ miles
Surface: Various; Asphalt, 8-14'
Nearby points of interest: University of Florida, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
Support and Advocacy: Gainesville Cycling Club
Trek Bicycle Gainesville (sales, service)
Super Cool Bike Shop (sales, service)
REI Bike Shop (sales, service)
Pedego Electric Bikes (rentals, sales, service)
Bikes & More (sales, service)
City of Gainesville Micromobility Program (shared scooter/bike rentals)
Gainesville's growing bike network links the University, business, and residential areas. Used by students and residents for recreation and commuting, the negatives are the busy roads with many intersections and business crossings. There are some shaded sections, but mostly unshaded so bring sunscreen, hat and water. Here we visit the three rail-trails in the University of Florida area from west to east along SR 24 (Archer Rd.), plus cycling on the UF Campus Greenway.
The Kermit Sigmon Bike Trail runs along the south side of SW Archer Rd. (SR 24) from SW 16th Ave. (SR 24A ) to the trail bridge spanning SW 13th St. The trail passes the VA Hospital and medical sciences areas of the University of Florida including the College of Dentistry and Shands Hospital. There are several road crossings and entrances to parking and school facilities along the way. Crossing SW Archer Rd. at S. Newell Dr. is a link to the UF Campus Greenway (more below). This is a busy crossing with many pedestrians, be careful. Past here, SW Archer Rd. branches north and the trail continues straight to the SW 13th St. bridge - a former train trestle.
The Depot Avenue Rail-Trail runs from the SW 13th St. bridge to E. University Blvd. at Waldo Rd. Depot Park is at about the mid-point.
From the SW 13th St. bridge to SW 11th Ave, the trail runs 1/4 mile away from the road through a wooded area past university housing. After crossing SW 11th St., it meets SW Depot Ave. and continues along the south side of the road, past P.K Yonge Middle and High Schools, and more university housing. After crossing SW 6th St. is an industrial area. The roundabout at S. Main St. marks the beginning of Depot Park. A sidewalk and bike lane continue along Depot Ave., but a better choice is to loop down into Depot Park and ride its trails to SW 4th St. where restrooms and parking are available.
Note: A trail crosses Depot Ave. Rail-Trail at SW 6th St. To the north it runs as the 6th St. Rail-Trail linking to downtown Gainesville at NE 16th Ave. To the south, it runs as the Downtown Connector Trail to the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail at the south end of Depot Park.
Depot Park is a gem, a popular open space with parking, restrooms, walking and biking trails (about 1 mile), 1.2 acre playground, splash pad, lakes and a wetland with many birds. It was developed on the old rail yard at the Historic Gainesville Train Depot - now restored, today it houses a convenience store, beer and wine garden, snacks and food. The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention at the park offers exhibits in different areas of science, invention and creativity, as well as hands-on programming for children. Depot Park also serves as a connector point to the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. The park's trails loop around the wetland at the south end of the park, which provides a stormwater management system for downtown.
About the Depot: Part of the building dates from about 1860, the only remaining Civil War railroad depot from the Florida Railroad line (Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key) and one of just three surviving depots in Florida built before the start of the war (the others are located on the Pensacola & Georgia Railroad line). The Gainesville Depot is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Exiting Depot Park at SW 4th St., the trail crosses to the north side of Depot Ave. It runs alongside Depot Ave. through an industrial area to SE 7th St., then cuts away from the road and runs through Springhill Neighborhood Park, a quieter, shaded area. We did see some homeless here, but no one bothered us. There are several road crossings. After passing SE 2nd Ave., the trail draws closer to SE 11th St., then ends at E. University Ave. This is a big, busy intersection. The Waldo Road Greenway continues across the road, be extremely careful crossing.
The Waldo Road Greenway runs on the east side of NE Waldo Rd. (SR 24) from University Ave. to NE 47th Ave. at Gainesville Regional Airport. A wide median buffers the trail from the road, with tree-lined sections past hammock, but this is not a tranquil "greenway" - this is a busy industrial area with numerous road and business crossings. The section from 8th Ave. to 16th Ave. is busiest, including a Super Wal-Mart. After 16th Ave, it's possible to ride with fewer interruptions. Homeless have been reported in the woods along the northern portion, but we saw none.
The UF Campus Greenway is a shared-use path that winds through the campus east-west from Archer Rd. (SR 24) at Newell Lane to SW 34th St. at Hull Rd. It creates a safer transportation alternative for bikers, joggers and pedestrians on campus, while connecting into Gainesville's trail network along Archer Rd. The pathway passes and links to university buildings and facilities. It includes natural areas and boardwalks at Bartram-Carr Woods, but also passes a power plant and water reclamation storage tank. At Gale Lemerand Drive, the trail cuts down along the Lake Alice Conservation Area behind the Gator Band Practice Field to Mowry Rd. Here it continues roadside past the conservation area and various university buildings and sporting facilities along Mowry Rd. It then turns onto Hull Rd. before ending at SW 34th St. With several twists and turns along the way, helpful signs point out the shared-use path route.
Author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953) moved to Cross Creek in 1928. Taken by the land and lifestyle of her North Florida Cracker neighbors, she began to write stories based on her observations. She gained fame and a Pulitzer Prize for "The Yearling" (1938), the story of a Florida boy, his pet deer, and relationship with his father that later became a popular movie. "Cross Creek" is an autobiographical story of her life there. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park preserves Rawlins' original Cracker farmhouse and furnishings, gardens and citrus groves. The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and Farmyard is a National Historic Landmark.
The Yearling Restaurant at Cross Creek, a local landmark since 1952, is a worthwhile stop not just for the traditional Southern food but the Old Florida atmosphere.
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