Hatchet Creek Wildlife Management Area
Managed in cooperation with St. Johns River Water Management District.
The Hatchet Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in Alachua County, approximately six miles east of downtown Gainesville. The WMA comprises 2,760 acres of the 3,860-acre Hatchet Creek Tract, one of three tracts within the Newnans Lake Conservation Area. This 5,704-acre conservation area protects extensive floodplains associated with Newnans Lake and numerous isolated wetlands. Their protection reduces flooding and improves water quality within the region. Hatchet Creek drains large areas of swamp and wet flatwoods north of Gainesville. It flows through the Hatchet Creek Tract, along the eastern edge of the WMA, and eventually flows into Newnans Lake. The conservation area has a rich cultural history, as it has been occupied by humans for 11,000 years. In the summer of 2000, low water levels in Newnan's Lake led to the discovery of 120 canoes, ranging from 500 to 5000 years old.
A broad floodplain swamp associated with the creek is composed of a mixed canopy of hardwoods and cypress. Portions of the Hatchet Creek Tract were managed for commercial timber production and consist of stands of slash and loblolly pine. The St. Johns River Water Management District manages the area using a combination of timber harvesting, groundcover restoration, reforestation and controlled burns. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission administers hunting related activities. Wildlife is abundant on the area and includes deer, turkey, osprey and numerous species of songbirds and wading birds. Snapping turtle, Florida cooter and otter are common along the creek.
Add your bird observations to the Hatchet Creek WMA eBird Hotspot.
Access to the WMA is along CR 222, just west of its intersection with SR 26. The area is open for public use year-round, from sunrise to sunset. However, during hunts, public access is restricted to individuals participating in the hunt. Motorized vehicular access is allowed only on scouting days and days open for hunting. Recreational opportunities on the area include hunting, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and bicycling. A series of loop trails accommodate hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. The trail crosses Hatchet Creek and Bee Creek and is subject to seasonal flooding. Temporary closures may occur during timber operations. A trailhead with parking and restroom facilities is located farther east along SR 26. The parking area can accommodate several vehicles and large horse trailers. Between September and April, high-quality quota hunts take place on limited days. They include seasons for archery, muzzleloading gun, family hunt, general gun and spring turkey. Fishing is allowed year-round. Check the list below for regulations about hunting seasons. Primitive camping is allowed by permit only from the St. Johns Water Management District.
Rules Regarding Dogs
- For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed, but must be kept under physical restraint at all times. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
- Hunting dogs may be taken onto the WMA after 8 a.m. the day before the opening of a season and shall be removed by 6 p.m. one day after the end of the season. Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game. Hunting with dogs is prohibited. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as "Closed to Public Access" by FWC administrative action. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
- Visit the St. Johns River Water Management District web site for Newnans Lake Conservation Area.
- View FWC's Regulations Summary for Hatchet Creek Wildlife Management Area for an area map, hunting seasons, permits, fees and area regulations.