One Sunday on the Sweetwater Preserve

I know, I know, I know. We’ve got Sweetwater this and Sweetwater that up to our ears around here.

We’ve got Sweetwater Branch Creek.

We’ve got Sweetwater Branch Park.

We may soon have Sweetwater Greenway Loop (hopefully, maybe one day soon).

And of course we’ve got Sweetwater Wetlands Park – GNV’s multi-million dollar storm water mitigation project cleverly disguised as a nature park and perched on the edge of Paynes Prairie.

But when I got on my bike Sunday afternoon and meandered off in the direction southeast GNV, my destination wasn’t the wildly popular Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Rather it was SWP’s lesser known and less frequented red-headed stepchild: Sweetwater Preserve.

On any given day, Sweetwater Wetlands Park is likely to attract scores of birdwatchers, hikers, photographers, rubberneckers and assorted lookey-loos (“Hey! A gator! Let’s get closer!).

In contrast, Sweetwater Preserve – just a hop, skip and jump north on Williston Road – qualifies as one of GNV’s best kept secrets.

It’s relatively quiet. And more heavily wooded. It lacks SWP’s prairie vistas.

You probably won’t see any gators (although there are signs requesting that if you do happen to see one, best leave it be).

No, what Sweetwater Preserve has going for it is the splendid sense of solitude on its trails. And very nice last-chance-to-see views of the creek before it empties into the prairie.

Admittedly, it can be a bit…um…preachy.

It’s got two not-difficult, interconnected trails. And if you decide to do both, you can hike for nearly three miles.

You can take a walk in the woods here and imagine that you are far from anywhere (always assuming you ignore the traffic noise from nearby Williston Rd.)

Seriously. Take a walk in these woods.

Where the critters are.

And this is where Sweetwater Branch shows its best face after winding its tortuous way through GNV and before disappearing into the prairie.

It’s a natural work of art.

There are even rumors of gators.

A destination worth the journey.

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