Sweetwater Wetlands Park - Gainesville, Florida
Opened in 2015 by the City of Gainesville, Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a 125-acre combination nature preserve and man-made stormwater wetlands treatment facility. The shallow man-made wetlands have proved to be attractive to wildlife, particularly birds. Along its 3.5 miles of walking trails, American bald eagle, sandhill crane, wood stork and an occasional whooping crane, among many other species, can be spotted. Recently, limpkins have been frequenting the park. Alligators are also regular visitors.
Gainesville Regional Utilities and the Gainesville Public Works Department partnered to develop Sweetwater Wetlands Park. The park offers a unique and innovative approach to achieving new water quality regulatory standards, while providing additional environmental benefits. The facility filters water from Sweetwater Branch, reduces nutrient loading. It then releases clean water to Paynes Prairie while protecting the Floridan aquifer, enhancing wildlife habitat and providing public recreation. The 264-acre park is now a thriving habitat filled with vast numbers of plants and animals, including birds, butterflies, alligators and Florida cracker horses. The park also features more than 3.5 miles of crushed gravel trails and boardwalks, lush landscapes, viewing platforms, educational signs and tours.
Coversations/Things we learned:
This park is deceptively underrated. When you search for it via the web or look for things to do in Gainesville, Florida, this should be one of the top places to go; it’s not listed that way. This park is a perfect example of humankind’s ability to exist while at the same time improving the environment. The park borders Payne’s Prairie (https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/paynes-prairie-preserve-state-park) which is also featured on our website and is a man-made park by the City of Gaineville. You should plan on spending 4-6 hours here with wildlife abundant while walking the extremely nice boardwalks, bridges, and trails. This is an excellent park for hikers, runners, birdwatchers, and naturalist. There is a minimal fee at a dropbox at the entrance based on the honor system. This is a park you go out of your way to visit.
Wildlife to expect include but not limited to a vast variety of birds and the American alligator.
Contact Information: 325 SW Williston Road
Gainesville, Florida 32601
Phone: (352) 554-5871
Trails, Boardwalks, & Bridges
Wildlife of Sweetwater Wetlands
(Alligator bellowing - they do this when in mating season and to establish territory with other male alligators)