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Located in the Cross Florida region, spring-fed Lake McMeekin (also called McMeekin Lake) is actually two lakes- Big Lake McMeekin at 200 acres and Little Lake McMeekin at 50 acres. Joined by a canal, these private lakes offer numerous recreational opportunities including boating, wake boarding, water skiing, swimming, fishing, and kayaking/canoeing. Anglers should expect to catch white bass, whitefish and sunfish regardless of if you are fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning.
Real estate is readily available around the two lakes making it a great place to retire to or purchase that weekend home you've always dreamed of. Situated in Putnam County, Lake McMeekin is only miles from the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile trail located on an old canal that runs from the eastern border of Florida to the western border. Putnam County is also home to Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka, which features a 100-foot ravine with gardens and hiking. The St. Johns River runs through the area offering superb kayaking and boating fun, as well as excellent bass fishing.
Other activities close to Lake McMeekin include the Gainsville-Hawthorne Trail, a recreational trail for walking, biking, horseback riding, and rollerblading that stretches 16 miles from Gainesville's Boulware Springs Park to the City of Hawthorne. Parking is permitted at three locations, Boulware Springs Park in Gainesville, Lochloosa Trailhead, and the Hawthorne Trailhead. It winds through the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area. As Florida's first state preserve, Paynes Prairie has since been established as a National Natural Landmark. It has over 20 distinct biological communities that provide excellent wildlife viewing from the eight trails and 50-foot observation platform. Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area is an 11,000 acre wildlife area that surrounds Lochloosa lake. A location of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the management area offers hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, canoeing, boating, and primitive camping.
Lake McMeekin is just a few miles from Cowpen Lake, North Twin Lakes, Little Orange Lake, and Lak-A-Ana Lake, making the region ideal for fishing and boating. Florida's natural beauty and wildlife means there is no shortage of outdoor activities in a less-visited section of the state. Expect to see bald eagles, herons, egrets, swallowtail kite, woodpecker, jay, hawk, anhinga, duck, and white ibis.
For some small town atmosphere, head to Hawthorne, one of the many cultural spokes of the much larger Gainesville. There are art galleries, trails, and nice small town dining in the less populated bedroom community. Vacation rentals and lodging can be found in most of the towns around Lake McMeekin, as well as campsites and RV camping. Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, has ample lodging but finding a room during football season may be a bit difficult. Stay closer to Lake McMeekin for a better chance at getting a room. Or better yet, look at getting that summer home you've always talked about.
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