by Kiko Matsing
Mile markers along the trail
1. First Trip
The other weekend, we did a roundtrip of the 16-mile Hawthorne bike trail in Gainesville, starting from the trailhead at Boulware Springs. Only the first four miles were hilly with moderate slopes; the rest was all the way flat. Around the 10-mile marker, there was a small grocery store at Grove Park that took credit cards for $5-minimum purchases. It could not have come sooner as we were ready to pass out from hunger and thirst! They also sold pickled eggs, red sausages, and boiled (pronounced booled) peanuts. It doesn’t get more redneck than that!
2. Second Trip
We were better oriented today to ride the Hawthorne Trail (and also had cash on us this time!). There was actually an entrance to the trail further west than the one on Williston; this was at the corner of Main and Depot, being the old Gainesville train terminal. This eventually leads to the entrance at Williston, passing by a short gravelled area (note to road bikers) where loafers seem to be permanently camped in the woods.
We decided to take the trail 5 miles at a time, taking 10-minute breaks in between. Our best time stood at around 20 minutes for each 5-mile stretch. Aside from this, we stopped for a short while to take pictures of the scenery: pine trees and cypresses within the hilly first 4 miles, and an interesting curved bridge near the 10-mile mark. There, it also started to thunder and pour.
The store owner at Grove Park told us about future plans to connect this trail with the one in Ocala. It will probably not be within my gradschool lifetime (I hope!), but it got me intrigued to take the bike there by car and try out the trails. He also tipped us on a Sonny’s BBQ on Highway 301 just beyond the trailhead at Hawthorne. Their sliced beef sandwich on thick garlic bread was just what I needed (i.e. not too heavy) for the return trip, which as always, we celebrate with a nice cold hoppy beer. Cheers!