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.
Take a dip in the newly reopened spring at Lithia Springs Conservation Park this weekend with your family. And, while you’re there, take a hike at FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve North. You’ll get to enjoy the amenities of a park and the peace of a preserve all in one place!
Lithia Springs Conservation Park
Families have been visiting Lithia Springs Conservation Park for decades to swim in the beautiful spring. It serves as a great place to cool off, especially during the summer, as the spring temperature remains at 72 degrees.
Steven Almeda, Park Ranger at Lithia Springs Conservation Park, says the park saw 200,000 visitors per year before the pandemic.
But, that number took a huge hit during the pandemic because the spring closed to swimming in April last year.
In that time, he says positive changes were observed in the spring.
“Some of the wildlife returned that hadn’t been seen here in decades,” said Almeda. “We had manatees, we had different fish that would come in. We had hundreds of snook that found their way up.”
The spring reopened Monday, May 3rd, but with COVID-19 precautions in place.
There are two, four hour swimming times during the day, with up to 200 people allowed in each session.
The first slot is from 9 am to 1 pm. The second slot is from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Almeda recommends calling ahead, especially on weekends, to make sure capacity hasn’t been reached.
Visitors are also asked to remain socially distant in line and around the park. If that’s not possible, masks are recommend.
It costs $2 per person to swim in the spring, in addition to $2 per vehicle to get into the park.
In addition to the spring, visitors can also launch their own canoe and kayaks into the Alafia River, camp, play volleyball and enjoy the picnic shelters and playground.
The address for Lithia Springs Conservation Park is:
FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve North
As you enter Lithia Springs Conservation Park, you’ll notice a sign for FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve North on the left.
FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve itself stretches more than 3,000 acres, but it is divided into north and south sections.
In the north portion, visitors will find a roughly three-mile trail.
“It’s a combination of shaded and sunny so it’s perfect for winter, perfect for summertime,” said Kaila Kelly, Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Management Technician.
Some parts of the trail, marked yellow on the map, are close to the Alafia River. One section hugs a nearby housing development.
“You’ll see wildlife,” said Kelly. “There’s deer, rabbits, armadillos, all kinds of birds.”
The address for FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve North is the same as Lithia Springs Conservation Park:
You will have to pay two dollars per vehicle to get in, whether you are visiting the park or preserve.
The south portion of the preserve can be found at:
There is a trailhead, basketball court and picnic tables are available. Parking is free in the south portion.
Join Walking Club!
Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!