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A single kayaker paddles out of Cross Creek into the mouth of Little Lochloosa Lake. Beautiful 5,700-acre Lochlossa Lake stretches in front of him with moss-draped cypress lining the sandy shore. Surrounded by live oak trees and old growth cypress with almost no residential development, Lake Lochloosa feels like another world. The Alachua County lake, however, is just 15 miles from Gainesville and four miles from historic Hawthorne, providing visitors the best of both worlds.
Lake Lochloosa, in north central Florida, is a natural lake. The lake is being restored as part of the Orange Creek Basin Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program and is a designated Outstanding Florida Water. It is connected to Orange Lake by 1.8-mile long Cross Creek. Made famous by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in her novels "Cross Creek" and "The Yearling", Cross Creek is a popular place to canoe or kayak. The slow-moving creek is shaded by cypress, oak and maple trees. The cracker farm house where Mrs. Rawlings wrote her novels and spent the last 25 years of her life is preserved at the M. K. Rawlings Historic State Park.
There is residential development along Cross Creek, but Lake Lochloosa is primarily undeveloped. Most of the lake is surrounded by the Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area. The area was aquired by the St. Johns River Water Management District and is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Conservation Commission protects the habitat of 19 rare or endangered species, including the sandhill crane and east indigo snake. There are also black bear, osprey and woodstorks. At over 30,000 acres, the Conservation Area provides plenty of opportunities to boat, fish, hike and hunt. There is also a self guided auto tour through the pine plantations, water oaks, and graceful live oaks. The Lake Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area is a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The trail is a self-guided highway trail that encompasses about 490 sites in Florida.
Lochlossa Lake is known for its abundant black crappie population, and the crappie fishing is best from January through April. There are also healthy populations of bluegill, redear sunfish, and bream, and the largemouth bass fishing is steadily improving. South of the town of Lochloosa is a public fishing pier that is a great place for anglers who don't have a boat. There is a public boat ramp on the east shore of the lake and a private fish camp.
Lake Lochloosa real estate is mostly distributed along the eastern shore. In addition to the few private private residences, there are cabins for rent, vacation rentals, RV camping, and a marina on Lake Lochloosa. Hawthorne is just four miles away with any amenities a visitor might want, including shopping, restaurants, and other conveniences. Hawthorne was established in 1840 and, by 1881, Moore's Hotel was serving over 2,500 game birds a season to the hunters and fishermen who traveled to enjoy Lochloosa Lake. Nearby Gainesville has all the cultural opportunities of a city including the Florida Museum of Natural History. The amenities of the city combine with the natural beauty and abundant fish and wildlife of the Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area to make Lake Lochloosa a destination anyone will enjoy.
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