Many of us are looking for ways to be active while also staying socially distanced from others. That’s why Sarah Phinney is starting a ‘Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails across Tampa Bay that are great places for you and your family to check out.
Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park is the perfect place for you and your family to visit if you are new to exploring Florida’s outdoors. The main attraction is a nearly two mile paved loop through thick woods. The loop connects to a boardwalk that takes visitors over the Alafia River. Here’s what you need to know before you visit:
Where is it at?
Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park is on the border of Plant City and Lithia in eastern Hillsborough County. Sometimes people confuse it with Alderman’s Ford Nature Preserve, which is about five miles away. The park has rangers, water stations and restrooms. The shelters and exercise stations are currently closed because of the pandemic.
What’s the backstory?
In 1848, James Alderman settled in the area. He cut down the steep banks of the Alafia River to make it easier for horses and wagons to ford it. That’s why the area became known as Alderman’s Ford.
The park was known for political rallies in the early 1900s.
What else can I do?
If you’d like to go deeper into the woods, or just extend your walk, primitive trails can be accessed from the paved loop.
“You might see some stuff that you wouldn’t see where all the people are on the paved trail,” said Chris Kiddy, program coordinator for Hillsborough County’s conservation environmental lands management department.
If you want to spend even more time in the park, there are several remote campsites.
Those more interested in exploring the area by water can launch their canoe or kayak into the Alafia River at 9625 Canoe Launch Loop Lithia, FL 33547. The launch entrance opens at 7 a.m. daily.
When should I visit?
Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park is located at 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Drive Plant City, FL, FL 33567. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the spring and summer and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the fall and winter. There is a $2 per vehicle entrance fee. If an attendant isn’t available, there are machines that will take credit cards only.
Aim to visit on weekday mornings, if possible, or when the sun is going down.
“With all the stuff going on right now, this is a great place to escape and just get in touch with nature,” said Kiddy.