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Friday, June 14, 2024

The University of Florida’s property stretches far across the state of Florida. One of the off campus properties most frequented by students is Lake Wauberg. Located eight miles south of campus on Highway 441, the Lake Wauberg recreational facility offers many activities to students free with their Gator 1 Card.

Although less than 10 miles outside of Gainesville, Lake Wauberg is located in the small town of Micanopy. However, many of the students who visit the lake don’t venture off the property, even though there’s more than enough to do in town for a whole day trip.

So allow me to take you on an adventure.

What to bring

  • A backpack.
  • Closed toed shoes for hiking.
  • Water.
  • A bathing suit for Lake Wauberg.
  • A towel.
  • Your wallet (with money and your Gator 1 Card).
  • Good friends.

Morning- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

The Micanopy entrance to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is located  10 miles south of Gainesville on the east side of Highway 441. Home to miles of trails, 20 biological communities and over 420 identified species of vertebrates (270 of which are birds), Paynes Prairie is a massive opportunity for outdoor adventure and recreation. The park opens at 8 a.m. and it is best to get to the park early during the summer to catch the coolest hours.

So what is there to do?

  • Hiking on any of eight trails through various habitats within the park.
  • Bicycling on five of the parks trails. Fat-tired bikes are required for most trails.
  • Wildlife viewing and bird watching. Wildlife such as wild horses and bison can be seen on the prairie, and other wildlife such as alligators, deer and bobcats. Paynes Prairie is also part of The Great Florida Birding Trail.
  • Visit the Visitor’s Center open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
  • There are 25 geocaches hidden at the park.

Visit the park’s website for more information.

Lunch

Once you leave Paynes Prairie head into the town of Micanopy for a lunch break. You can grab take out and bring your lunch out to Lake Wauberg (there are no concessions at the lake) or dine in.

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First option: Grab lunch in downtown Micanopy and walk around to visit the antique shops.

  • Old Florida Café (Sandwiches)  
  • Coffee n’ Cream  (Sandwiches, salads and ice cream)
  • Mosswood Farm Store (Baked goods and coffee)

Second option: Grab lunch on one of these restaurants located on Highway 441.

  • Pearl Country Store (Barbeque and burgers).
  • Blue Highway (Pizza, sandwiches and salads).

Afternoon-Lake Wauberg

Spend the rest of the afternoon at Lake Wauberg. The park is closed on Mondays, but is open during the summer from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekends.

Keep in mind that there are two entrances to Lake Wauberg. One entrance is to the North Shore and the other is to the South Shore. Each shore has different activities, here are your options.

North Shore

  • Swimming area and a dock.
  • Boat ramp.
  • Boating check outs are available at the North Shore:  canoes, paddleboats, rowboats and kayaks.
  • Sail boats are available for check out with a sail card.

South Shore

  • Waterskiing and wakeboarding available to students with waterskiing and wakeboarding cards.
  • Bicycling trail.
  • Disk golf course.
  • Climbing wall and bouldering grotto. Only individuals certified at Lake Wauberg may belay. The wall is closed during summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

To learn more about any of the activities at Lake Wauberg visit the website.

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