Anthony Galluscio Camping Review #2: Paynes Praire

Paynes Prairie Camping Trip

Anthony Galluscio Paynes Prairie Camping Review

This review covers our most recent camping trip to Paynes Prairie.

  • Campground: Paynes Prairie

  • Nights Camping: 5

  • Nearest City:  Gainesville, FL

  • Space Number:  46

  • Hookups:  Water/Electric/No Sewer

  • Cost per Night:  $23

  • Likes:  Our spot was very secluded. We experienced virtually no bugs. Weather and temperature could not have been better. Lots of dogs for Sophie to meet.  Very clean with campsites well maintained. Courteous campers. Weather was beautiful. Clear and cool.

  • Dislikes:  Space 46 is difficult to back into. The water hose at the pump out station was not working so I could not run the internal black tank sprinkler. Also, the camp ground needs to arrange to have the recycling picked up more often.

  • Notes:  Becca and I camped here in our Jayco Jay Flight 23RB  travel trailer. We brought our Cairn Terrier, Sophie with us.  Even though the spot was difficult to back into, I would choose it again due to the seclusion. The “kids” came down from Gainesville and we had a great time.

  • Rating:  Excellent

  • Link:

Anthony Galluscio La Chua Trail Hike

La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Difficulty:  Very Easy
  • Terrain: Flat boardwalks, grass, and sand paths
  • Human Impact: Heavy impact due to proximity to Gainesville, FL
  • Location: Paynes Prairie, FL
  • Start: La Chua Trail parking lot
  • End: La Chua Trail parking lot
  • Dates: April 9, 2017

Getting Started

Becca (my wife), Bobby (my eldest son), Katie (my daugher), Miguel (Katie’s boyfriend), Stevie (my 2nd son), and I hiked this very easy, but very interesting trail. The interesting part is that you can  get VERY CLOSE to nature.  The hike is an out-and-back that goes from the self-pay parking lot, out to an observation tower, and back. Parking costs $4.00 per vehicle on an honor system.   Full disclosure on this hike is that you can get way closer to alligators than some people would feel comfortable. However, the wildlife on this hike is amazing. Here are some of the highlights:

Wild Horses

Wild horses roam free and even walk on the trail with you. We saw several colts.

La Chua Trail Wild Horses #1
La Chua Trail Wild Horses #1
La Chua Trail Wild Horses #2
La Chua Trail Wild Horses #2


There were many many large alligators. One of the park rangers told us that there has been a recent rash of cannibalism. In fact, right before we arrived there one alligator had just killed another and was eating it as we watched. Note this is NOT like Bass Pro because there is no fence between you and the gators.

La Chua Trail Alligator
La Chua Trail Alligator

Here is a picture of Wild Horses and an alligator in the same picture!! If you increase the size of the picture you can see the alligator in the middle.

La Chua Trail Wild Horses and Alligator
La Chua Trail Wild Horses and Alligator

In the picture below you can see a lot of alligators basking in the sun on the bank.

La Chua Trail Alligators Basking
La Chua Trail Alligators Basking


We could see Bison off in the distance from the observation tower. We took this picture from our monocular.

La Chua Trail Bison #1
La Chua Trail Bison #1
La Chua Trail Bison #2
La Chua Trail Bison #2


On the hike out there was an armadillo on the trail. It did not seem at all afraid of us.

La Chua Trail Armadillo
La Chua Trail Armadillo