he original settlement of Hogtown was a Seminole village, recorded as having 14 inhabitants in 1824. By 1830, homesteading settlers moved in, surrounding the trading post. During the Second Seminole War, a small fort was built to protect the settlement. By 1854, the population center shifted four miles west to Gainesville, designated the county seat. As you walk through these woods on the broad Hogtown Creek Greenway, imagine the horses and wagons of settlers following this shady route. It’s a dense glade of river bluff forest that in no way resembles the Gainesville you see along University Avenue or 34th Street. Needle palms rustle in the breeze beneath grand old live oaks and tall slash pines.
Length: 2 miles
Lat-Long: 29.654950, -82.371836
Type: round-trip and loop
Fees / Permits: none
Difficulty: 2 of 5
Bug factor: 3 of 5
Restroom: Yes, at Loblolly Environmental Facility
The Hogtown Creek Greenway starts at the kiosk in front of the environmental center. Walk a few paces to reach the access trail to the loop trails through Loblolly Woods, on the right. Learn more about Loblolly Woods.
From I-75 at Newberry Road, drive east, passing the Oaks Mall. When you reach SW 34th Street (SR 121), where the road name changes to University Ave, turn left on SW 34th St. Turn right almost immediately at the small green sign for “Loblolly Environmental Facility,” across from NW 5th Ave. There are only a few places to park.
HOGTOWN CREEK GREENWAY
Your first view of Hogtown Creek is near a fence, where a side trail leads down to a live oak fallen across the creek. The clear tannic creek ripples across its sand bottom. An observation platform is on the other side of the trail, where with a pair of binoculars you might be able to spy red-winged blackbirds hanging out in the willow marsh.
The Greenway continues across a set of boardwalks broad enough for a school bus to cross, carrying you over marshes connecting the open willow marsh and the creek floodplain. A chorus of a thousand songbirds rises from the distant marsh.
As you walk along the broad path (ducking bicycles zipping past), note the creek’s floodplain off to the right. It’s broad and sandy, spilling well up above its normal shoreline. On the edges of the trail, you’ll see woodlands phlox in bloom in spring and poison ivy creeping along the bases of trees. Look for a little owl sculpture hidden in the brush on the right as the Greenway ends at NW 8th Street, across the street from the school complex. Backtrack along the Greenway for a 1 mile walk
A little exploring led us to the winding trails of the Loblolly Woods. We’d gotten back to the trail kiosk near the Loblolly Environmental Facility and said “hmmm…where does this trail go?” when we saw the side trail head off into denser forest. It lead straight to a creek – too narrow to be Hogtown Creek itself – where it was obvious other folks had crossed using an extending root and a good sense of balance. Nearby, one of the trees was painted with two symbols: a yellow dot and a blue triangle. I thought they might be for cross-country runners, but after poking around on these trails a little bit, they were likely blazes for meandering through the Loblolly Woods.
We crossed the stream without slipping in and took the first left, following the yellow dot blazes through a lush, shady river bluff forest to an overlook above Hogtown Creek at a T intersection in the trail. The trail led left and right, and we turned left to follow the creek upstream. A buckeye in bloom made a strong contrast of its bright red flowers against the backdrop of green. Some houses were in the distance, well shaded by the forest.
By the time we reached a familiar spot, I realized we’d likely taken the shortest path—I could see the Hogtown Creek Greenway boardwalk in the distance. The trail reached a confluence of a tributary with Hogtown Creek at the base of a tall tree that looked like an elm. Just before the confluence, the creek ran in noisy ripples across what looked like a lumpy limestone bottom, creating a small set of rapids where the water moved very fast.
We ended up at the fallen oak across Hogtown Creek and could walk right over to the Greenway to make a loop. According to the brochure “Discover Gainesville’s Natural Treasures,” there’s a mile of trails in this 164-acre patch of woods, so more exploration awaits!
0.0 Loblolly Environmental Facility
0.5 end of Greenway at NW 8th St
1.0 return to entrance to Loblolly Woods
2.0 return to Loblolly Environmental Facility