Cycling and Painting the Hawthorne Trail

On Lochloosa Bridge
On Lochloosa Bridge

One of my New Year’s ambitions was to cycle the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail more often than I had in the previous year.

By January 7, I’d cycled 80 miles on the trail.

The trail is through sections of Paynes Prairie State Preserve. I enjoy going downhill at 24-26 mph, feeling the rush of wind on my face. Unfortunately, I can’t sustain that pace on the flat part of the trail!

Thanks to a year of Spin cycling at the gym, I can more easily cycle the uphills – standing in the pedals for a surge to the top. I’m pleased at the progress.

My 2020 rides have been with friends, and I’ve had different views depending on what sections of the trail we rode, where we stopped – and the weather.

On every ride, I stopped to take a few photos. Then after the ride I sat down in my creative studio and painted some of those views.

Lochloosa Bridge
Lochloosa Bridge, watercolor

I did two paintings of the Boardwalk near Kate’s Fish Camp where we stopped for a water break.

Boardwalk near Kate's Fish Camp
Cypress knees & trees, Watercolor

An armadillo foraging for food along the trail was the subject for two other paintings.

We’re having gorgeous weather in Florida for cycling.

The Hawthorne Trail was great riding. Some previously bumpy sections of the trail were repaved. On one ride, a park staffer was driving a truck with a large blower to remove leaves, small branches and Sweetgum balls from the trail for a safer ride.


I’ve always enjoyed bike riding, from an early age when I received my first bicycle (not tricycle) for my 5th birthday.

Through my teen years, I’ve enjoyed cycling with friends, exploring the neighborhood and eventually the whole city.

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed riding in both nature areas and cities around the country, including cycling the waterfront in Chicago, cycling from San Diego to Imperial Beach, and riding the many rail-trails in Florida.

What a fun way to take in the outdoors.

I’m cutting back on my cycling of the trail for the next few weeks until I complete an upcoming pickleball tournament.

But I’ll be back on the trail in March, as I look for the Wild Iris to be in bloom in swampy areas about seven miles into my usual trail ride. They are beautiful to see and will be inspiring to paint.


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