When visiting Lake Alice, you should start at the Baughman Meditation Center. Located on the shore of Lake Alice, this beautiful Gothic-inspired structure is open to the public. Take a few moments to simply admire the architecture of the building. The Baughman Center offers breathtaking views across the lake, and you can experience several forms of wildlife from this point. There is nature trail around the lake. The trail starts off as a dirt path and leads to a heavily wooded area, you can see massive trees and lovely forest wildlife. The path turns into an elevated boardwalk that takes you through a wetlands area, where you can experience cypress and cedar trees by the lake. The trail will fork, with one path leading to an overlook of Lake Alice. The trail ends where you entered, and you can pass the University of Florida Bat House, where over 100,000 bats live and take flight every day at sundown. There are park benches provided, so you can enjoy the amazing feat of this bat colony taking flight.
The University of Florida Bat House began when a colony of bats decided to find shelter on university property after their home had been destroyed in a fire. Campus officials responded by creating the bat houses. Since then, the bat house has not only grown in popularity with the bats, but also with people- and it has become a large attraction on campus. The most common species living here is the Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), the Southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius) and the Evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis). The colony usually fully emerges after a 15-minute period after sunset!
Lake Alice is not only one of Gainesville’s trademark attractions, but also a nature-lover’s paradise. There were previous plans to drain portions of Lake Alice for additional student parking, and also plans to remove the bat structures for new student housing. Any plans to disrupt the beauty and ecology of Lake Alice have been successfully protested by the students to keep this unique ecosystem healthy and alive.