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North central Florida is blessed with a number of pristine lakes. Within a ten-mile radius of the city of Hawthorne, there are approximately 380 bodies of water. One such sparkling body of water is Little Orange Lake, a 576-acre lake that straddles the Alachua/Putnam county line just southeast of Hawthorne. Little Orange Lake is also part of an extensive lake district in the Gainesville area which includes a number of large lakes such as Newnans Lake, Orange Lake, Santa Fe Lake, and Lochloosa Lake. With so many opportunities for boating, fishing and other outdoor activities, it's little wonder that this area is referred to as a sportsman's paradise.
Unlike some of the private lakes in the area, Little Orange Lake has a public boat ramp located midway up the lake on the western shore. Boaters can also access the lake from Holden Pond, a smaller lake connected to Little Orange Lake through a canal on the southwest side. 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. 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 Little Orange Lake or any Florida waterway.
Most of the land surrounding the shoreline of Little Orange Lake is undeveloped. There is some residential housing to the southeast, west, and northwest of the lake, but for the most part, the land in the vicinity of Little Orange Lake is untouched making shoreline fishing and fly fishing very popular in certain sections. 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 there are no designated swimming areas.
Visitors to Little Orange Lake wishing to do some 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 the state'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. For history buffs, the recently opened Hawthorne Historical Museum and Cultural Center holds historical artifacts and paintings from Hawthorne's past.
Hikers and bikers will enjoy a multipurpose trail in the Hawthorn area. The Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park stretches 16 miles from Hawthorne to the City of Gainesville 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 Little Orange Lake will want to explore this trail to experience the natural beauty of the area.
For some serious outdoor exploration, the Lochloosa Wildlife Conservation Area is located southwest of Little Orange Lake. 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 the woods or glide across the lake.
For a truly relaxing vacation, Little Orange Lake offers tranquility and the beauty of nature in an almost private and peaceful setting. Fish, swim, motorboat, kayak, canoe, or just admire the splendor of north central Florida's gorgeous sunsets. With its excellent fishing and plentiful sunshine, Little Orange Lake is the perfect outdoor getaway.
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