The surrounding area
Whether or not you are a carriage driving enthusiast or other equestrian, the area offers countless opportunities to explore unique attractions and events along Florida's "Nature Coast".
Local organizations, including Chambers of Commerce and the Levy County Tourist Development Council have compiled an excellent overview of the area and various attractions, and below we provide links for your reference.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, south of Gainesville and west of Ocala. As part of Florida's "Nature Coast", Levy is home to the Suwannee River and many square miles of forests, marshlands and a long Gulf Coast coastline.
The Goethe State Forest directly surrounds Black Prong on three sides. This state forest consists of 53,587 acres of forestry used for timber production, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration. Currently there are seven different trailheads that can be used for picnicking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. Camping sites are also available at different parts of the forest. All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins test results for their horses when on state lands.
A city on a group of islands located 50 miles west of I-75 at Gainesville, Florida, via State Road 24, four miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, accessible by bridges and causeways. A quiet island community nestled among many tiny keys on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Cedar Key is admired for its natural beauty and abundant supply of seafood. It is a tranquil village, rich with the almost forgotten history of old Florida.
A commercial and shopping hub for Levy County. It is also home to several area attractions along the Nature Coast.
PURE WATER WILDERNESS
This interesting and informative site offers details on "The unspoiled beauty and excitement outside the park gates, beyond the city skyline, apart from the traffic and crowds. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Florida's Pure Water Wilderness. "
LA CHUA TRAIL at PAYNES PRAIRIE
A great place for an easy hike on the boardwalk or out to the observation tower.
A handful of places that stand out as excellent locations for wildlife watching in Florida but the place to see alligators is in the home of the Gators, Gainesville.
50 mins from Black Prong.
BIG CYPRESS TREE HIKE
Hidden in the depths of a floodplain forest in the heart of Goethe State Forest, the Big Cypress Trail is a short hike that leads to one of Floridas most amazing botanical wonders. At the end of this ramble past large and larger trees, you follow a boardwalk to the base of a towering cypress tree more than 900 years old, with others of similar stature nearby. 20 mins from Black Prong.
RAINBOW RIVER & SPRINGS
Florida's fourth largest spring and, from the 1930s through the 1970s and a great place to swim, canoe/kayak. From the main headsprings entrance, visitors may swim in the freshwater 72 degree headsprings of the Rainbow River, rent canoes and kayaks, view waterfalls and gardens, and enjoy a picnic area with tables, grills, and pavilions. 45 mins from Black Prong.
KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS
One of the most beautiful and complex gardens in Florida. It sits beneath grand live oaks with more than a dozen themed gardens on 62 acres. Bamboo is their specialty, with Florida's best collection of these tall grasses.
35 mins from Black Prong.
HISTORIC HAILE HOMESTEAD at KANAPAHA PLANTATION
A 6,200 sq ft home built by 56 enslaved laborers. The Historic Haile Homestead is unique in the Nation for its "Talking Walls.". Fees apply. 35 mins from Black Prong.
SWEETWATER WETLAND PARK
Consists of more than 125 acres of wetlands and ponds, was created to improve the water quality of wetlands in Paynes Prairie and the Floridan Aquifer. Great trails with birding, alligator, and other wildlife viewing. 40 mins from Black Prong.
MORNINGSIDE NATURE CENTER / GAINSVILLE
A flagship nature park, protecting the largest stand of longleaf pine savanna remaining within city limits. This 268 acre preserve has an extensive network of hiking trails, enabling you to enjoy walks of anywhere from a half mile to six miles. But its biggest draw is open September through April: the Living History Farm, ten acres of historic buildings, livestock, and costumed interpreters recreating Florida's pioneer days in the 1870s. 35 mins from Black Prong.
DEVIL’S DEN SPRING / WILLISTON
A privately owned prehistoric cave that offers snorkeling and SCUBA diving. Fees apply. 15 mins from Black Prong.
BLUE GROTTO DIVE RESORT / WILLISTON
A privately owned resort. The dive begins at the mouth of the cavern, which is
80ft wide and 20ft high. Look from topside into the sharp blue of the pool and you will understand why Blue Grotto is well known for its exceptional visibility year round. Fees apply. 15 mins from Black Prong.
CEDAR LAKES WOODS & GARDENS / WILLISTON
A privately-owned opened for public enjoyment in January of 2014. Dr. Raymond Webber’s creation of the gardens began over 23 years ago when he discovered the 100 year old retired lime rock quarry. With the initial idea of designing a giant fishing pond, Ray transformed the old swamp, leaving the islands and pathways displayed today. Rock by Rock, each rolled in by wheelbarrows and strategically placed by human hands, the walls of the gardens were created. Taking up gardening as his hobby, Ray is responsible for one of the most unique botanical creations you'll ever see. Fees apply. 15 mins from Black Prong.
DEVIL’S MILLHOPPER NATURE TRAIL
A huge sinkhole with rain forest appearance. It takes 232 steps to walk to the bottom of this 500-foot-wide, 120-foot-deep sinkhole. Each landing reveals a new layer of forest, each crack and crevice a bounty of botanical wonders.
45 mins from Black Prong.
BAT HOUSES & BARNS of UF GAINSEVILLE
Best visited when the bats normally emerge during a 15-20-minute period after sunset, before total darkness on calm, warm evenings when temperatures are above 65F. These two locations the UF Bat Barns and Bat House are located on the north side of Museum Road across from Lake Alice on the UF campus. The most common species living here is the Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis.
The Southeastern bat, Myotis austroriparius, and Evening bat, Nycticeius humeralis, also live in the structures. 45 mins from Black Prong.
CARSON SPRINGS WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FOUNDATION
Contact to Schedule a Tour and see the foundation animals that are totally dependent on donations. There is no State or Federal funding. Private and semi private tours are available by advance appointment. Suggested donation $25 per adult, $7 if under 12 years. 60 mins from Black Prong.
Located 1.5 hrs. from Black Prong, Peacock Springs boasts one of the longest underwater cave systems in the US and the only park dedicated to cave diving. Boasting six large sinkholes and two major springs, this karst cave system has an amazing 28,000 feet of explored passageway..
A cant-miss living exhibit that features hundreds of free-flying butterflies and birds from around the world along with an assortment of other animals including turtles and fish to experience firsthand. View live butterfly releases Monday through Friday at 2pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, weather permitting. $14 adults; $12 Fla. residents/college students; $12 seniors; $7 ages 3-17.
40 mins from Black Prong.
Goethe State Forest
J.T Goethe sold the land to the Florida Government in 1992 for $65.7 million. This was the largest purchase under the state’s conservation and recreation land program at the time.
The Goethe forest expands 53,587 acres of forest including 7 different trailheads spread throughout Alachua and Levy counties. It is home to many endangered and otherwise protected species such as the red cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoises, gopher frogs, striped newts, Florida black bears, and bald eagles.
The land is used for timber production, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and ecological restoration. Guests can enjoy picnicking, hiking, bicycling, fishing, wildlife viewing and horseback riding while the forest is open during daylight hours. Hunting and fishing can also be done on property as long as the proper permits are obtained and it is in season.
Goethe State Forest
9110 SE County Road 337 Dunnellon, FL 34431