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Walking Club: Exploring Hillsborough River State Park

Walking Club: Exploring Hillsborough River State Park
Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 07:33:50-04

Many of us are looking for ways to remain active while also staying a safe distance away from others. That's why Sarah Phinney started a ‘Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails and parks across Tampa Bay.

Hillsborough River State Park is unlike anywhere else in the Tampa Bay area. At the park, you’ll find class II river rapids, which are hard to find in the Sunshine State! You and your family will be wowed by the beauty of the rapids and soothed by the peaceful sounds of rushing water. Here’s what you need to know before you visit.

Where is it?

Hillsborough River State Park is located in northern Hillsborough County, just off of US 301. When traffic is light, it only takes about 25 minutes to get there from downtown Tampa.

The address is:

15402 US 301 N
Thonotosassa, FL 33592

You’ll see signs for the main entrance.

It costs $4 for one person in a vehicle to get in. You’ll be charged $6 if there are two to eight people in the car. It costs $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists to get in the park.

What is there to do?

Visitors will find places to bike, camp, kayak/canoe (you must bring your own as there is no vendor at this time), fish and, of course, hike. There are more than seven miles of trails at the park.

First-timers should head for parking lot two to check out the 1.2 mile Rapids Trail. The rapids are only about five to ten minutes from the parking lot, depending on your pace. Soak up the beautiful views and peaceful sound of rushing water.

After, take a left and walk along the Hillsborough River. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, turtles, snakes and other wildlife.

You’ll eventually reach the suspension bridge. It’s a great place to take in the river from a different vantage point and snap some photos. Crossing it will take you to the 1.1 mile Baynard Trail. You can also access the 3.2 mile Seminole Trail in this area.

Check out this map to see how everything is laid out.

Campground Map and HRSP Map by ABC Action News on Scribd

Park rangers suggest those with mobility challenges visit parking lot three. There are ADA accessible bathrooms and sidewalks that will take you close to the river.

Biking is only allowed on the paved loop around the park as well as on the 1.6 mile Wetlands Trail. It can be accessed from parking lot five. You could find freshly planted trees and new plant growth as restoration is taking place there.

When should I visit?

The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown every day of the year. Park rangers say sunset is a beautiful time to visit. Keep in mind, the park can get busy on weekends so plan accordingly.

Join Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter.