This 5,556-acre area is a significant piece of property in a large group of publicly owned conservation lands within the Orange Creek Basin. These conservation lands include Austin Cary Memorial State Forest, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area, Orange Creek Restoration Area and several natural areas owned by the city of Gainesville. All of these areas protect extensive, diverse upland and wetland natural communities and provide important wildlife corridors. Conservation of these properties helps protect and increase water quality within the Orange Creek and Ocklawaha River basins and ultimately the St. Johns River. This area encompasses nearly two miles of Newnans Lake shoreline and parts of its two major tributaries — Hatchet Creek and Little Hatchet Creek — protecting a large area of floodplain wetlands. The conservation area also includes numerous isolated wetlands such as depression marshes, dome swamps and a large basin swamp known locally as Gum Root Swamp.
Please respect Florida’s wildlife and use caution while visiting district lands. These are wild animals. For your safety, do not approach or feed any wild animal. Common wildlife sightings include white-tailed deer, fox, otter and a variety of snakes. The Newnans Lake area is a popular wildlife viewing area. Common sightings include bald eagles, osprey, wild turkeys and several varieties of warblers, wading birds and shore birds.
- Hiking, bicycling, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, canoeing and picnicking.
- Hunting is allowed on the Hatchet Creek portion of the property.
- A boat ramp is located at the county’s Owens-Illinois Park near the South Tract.
The Hatchet Creek Tract parking area is located off State Road (SR) 26, approximately 1.5 miles east of County Road (CR) 222. The North Tract has two parking areas, one off of SR 26, approximately one-half mile west of CR 222, and one on CR 234, approximately two miles south of SR 26. The South Tract parking area is at Owens-Illinois Park, approximately three miles north of SR 20 on Southeast 16th Avenue.