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Potano Paddling Trail, Newnan's Lake, Prairie Creek, Gainesville - kayak, canoe, FloridaPotano Paddling Trail, Newnan's Lake, Prairie Creek, Gainesville - kayak, canoe, Florida

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Reported: Nov. 2016

Potano Paddling Trail... Paddling near Gainesville

The Potano Padding Trail is a Florida State designated trail, getting its name from an Indian tribe that inhabited the area until the late 1600’s. The trails consists of two distinct sections: (1) a circumnavigation of Newnans Lake (a mostly easy paddle), and (2) Prairie Creek (which can be a more technical paddle), from the southwest corner of the lake to the trail endpoint at the SR 234 bridge. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: 11.5 miles around Newnan's Lake plus 4 miles on Prairie Creek
Location: Alachua County (Gainesville)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: No
Launch points: Earl P. Powers County Park, Palm Point City Park, Owens-Illinois County Park, Kate's Fish Camp (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Kate's Fish Camp (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek), University of Florida

Tha lake has some interesting geological and archeological features. It sits atop the Hawthorne Formation, a layer of phosphate rich clay, which gives the water a cloudy, grayish tint. While the water is not as pretty or reflective as most Florida lakes, it is rich in natural nutrients which support a food chain attracting a large number of aquatic birds. Wildlife include eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons among many other birds. Alligators and otters can also be seen.

During a drought in 2000, the remnants of over 100 Indian dugout canoes ranging from 500 to 5,000 years old were discovered in the dry lake bottom. As it turns out, this is the world’s largest discovery of ancient watercraft. Consisting of remnants and fragments too fragile to move, they remain in the lake. Read more about this archaeological find.

Paddling at Potano Paddling Trail
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
We explored around Newnan's Lake visiting launch and access points.
For ease of access and proximity to Prairie Creek (about 3/4 mile), we launched from
Earl P. Powers County Park
and paddled on Newnan's Lake to Prairie Creek.
Potano Paddling Trail Launches
The State's Potano Paddling Trail map (see link below) indicates 8 "access points,"
we were able to document six. One (the rowing club) was not open, and
we couldn't locate the one shown in Prairie Creek Preserve.
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Earl P. Powers County Park
Easy on and off, closest to Prairie Creek.
Parking, restrooms, fishing, picnic, playground.
Palm Point City Park
From the parking area, about 200 feet
on path to launch. Parking, no facilities. Popular with fishermen.
Hackett Creek Bridge
Many pullovers. Attempt only at high water (or not at all).
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Owens-Illinois County Park
Easy on and off. Parking, picnic,
fishing, playground.
Kate's Fish Camp
On Prairie Creek. Canoe and kayak rentals. Small fee to launch.
CR234 Bridge
Take-out point for end of
paddling trail on Prairie Creek.
Limited parking, no facilities.
Paddling on Newnan's Lake
Newnan's Lake, almost completely undeveloped and lined by cypress, is about 7,500 acres at normal levels and is a popular fishing lake. It's about 11.5 miles to circumnavigate, open to the elements, and is not the type of water a recreational paddler typically seeks out although channels along the shoreline do offer some shelter and birdwatching opportunities.
Most paddlers go to Prairie Creek - from the Earl Powers launch the entrance to
Prairie Creek is to the right, about 3/4 mile.
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Launch at Earl P. Powers County Park Onto Newnan's Lake Fishing pier On Newnan's Lake
Paddling on Prairie Creek
For most paddlers, Prairie Creek is the main attraction of the trail. As it leaves the lake,
the creek passes under Hwy 20 and a bike bridge of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State
Trail. Here, water levels are important: too low and the creek becomes a series of downed logs and pullovers; too high and you will not be able to pass under the bike trail bridge.
At normal water levels, the creek is narrow and shallow, with many twists and turns.
The bank is lined with cypress knees and shaded by cypress, pine and oak.
Numerous small gators, waterbirds and deer can be seen.

From the Hwy 20 Bridge, it is a little less than 4 miles to the take-out at CR234. For
about the first 2.5 miles the creek remains in its natural state. Then about 1.2 miles
before the CR234 take-out, you will see a steel water control gate. Here the creek
becomes a dug-out canal leading to the take-out. Camps Canal ultimately empties
into Orange Lake, but it becomes impassable shortly beyond the take-out.
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Entering creek br /> from lake SR20 bridge Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail (bike trail) bridge Along the creek Flock of ibis
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Examples of obstructions in the creek Narrow spot Along the creek Back onto
Newnan's Lake

For biking near Gainesville, also visit us here: Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

More information on paddling at Potano Paddling Trail (opens in a new window):

- Florida Office of Greenways and Trails-Paddling Trails:
- Potano Paddling Trail (pdf)

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Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Potano Paddling Trail

Outfitters/Rentals

Kate's Fish Camp


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Alachua Conservation Trust


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