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Holden Pond is a 51-acre lake southeast of the town of Hawthorne in Alachua County, Florida. Alachua County has numerous small, tucked away lakes and ponds, but most are private and do not allow public access; Holden Pond is an exception. A public boat ramp grants anglers access to the lake as well as adjoining Little Orange Lake.
Holden Pond's public boat ramp is a popular spot for those wishing to fish the crystal clear water of Holden Pond or gain access to the southern end of 576-acre Little Orange Lake. A navigable canal connects the two lakes; Little Orange Lake offers an additional public boat ramp midway up the lake on the western shore. Fish in both lakes include largemouth bass, crappie, shellcracker, and bluegill. Bowfins can be found in Holden Pond and many anglers visit the lake with the hopes of catching this unusual fish. Most of the area around Holden Pond is undeveloped and shoreline fishing is possible in certain sections. The same holds true for Little Orange Lake, a popular lake for fly fishing. Note: Although most fish taken from Florida's waters are safe to eat, refer to the Florida Fish Advisory (link below) before eating fish caught from Holden Pond or any Florida waterway.
Outdoor facilities at Holden Pond include a small picnic area with a covered shelter near the boat lunch. Swimming in both lakes is allowed, but no designated swimming areas exist. Dangle your feet in the clear water, daydream as you float on a raft, or get some exercise swimming the lake's lengths -- water recreation at Holden Pond promises hours of enjoyment.
Visitors to Holden Pond wishing to do a little camping and sightseeing will find an RV park in the town of Hawthorne. Vacation rentals and real estate can be found in and around the quiet and historic town of Hawthorne and in the bustling city of Gainesville, 15 miles west of Hawthorne. Gainesville is home to The University of Florida and is one of Florida's premier centers of education, medicine, cultural events and athletics. Known for its historic buildings and beautiful natural surroundings, Gainesville's numerous parks, museums, cultural centers, golf courses, and lakes provide entertainment for thousands of year-round visitors.
Hikers and bikers enjoy a multipurpose trail in the Hawthorn area. The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park stretches 16 miles from the City of Gainesville to Hawthorne through some of the most scenic and natural areas in north central Florida. The trail is designed for walking, cycling, rollerblading, and horseback riding. Outdoor enthusiasts and bird watchers visiting Holden Pond will want to explore this trail to experience the beauty of the area.
For some serious outdoor exploration, the Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area is located southwest of Holden Pond. This 10,333-acre area offers seasonal hunting, fishing, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, boating, wildlife viewing and primitive camping at designated locations. Boating and fishing opportunities are available on 5,700-acre Lochloosa Lake located in the center of the area. The habitat protects 19 rare or endangered species of wildlife including the sandhill crane and east indigo snake. Bald eagles, cranes, ospreys, black bear, fox, and squirrel can also be seen as you hike through the woods or glide across the lake.
Southeast of Holden Pond is the town of Ocala and the Ocala National Forest. The Ocala National Forest covers 383,000 acres and offers immense opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, camping, boating, hiking, canoeing, swimming, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hunting. Canoe rentals are available for a leisurely paddle along cypress and southern hardwood lined streams and lakes. Hikers can choose from a number of easy scenic hikes to a more demanding 67-mile trek along the Ocala portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail. For bird watchers, the Salt Springs Observation Trail is a 2-mile hike with an observation platform for viewing bald eagles, great herons, egrets, and osprey.
With its excellent fishing, abundant wildlife and plentiful sunshine, Holden Pond is the perfect outdoor getaway. Combine your time on the lake with an afternoon of shopping, restaurants, and activities in nearby Hawthorne or Gainesville and a trip to Holden Pond is sure to make for a pleasant vacation.
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