Hillsborough River State Park offers more than 7 miles of beautiful hiking trails, including a 3.4 mile loop of the Florida Trail. Many of these miles take you right alongside the Hillsborough River, from its rapids upstream to its placid waters downstream. You can also paddle the river — rental canoes are available or you can launch your own paddle craft.
I really wanted to see the Class II rapids in the morning light, so I started my hike with the Rapids Trail. I was not disappointed. It just so happens that the morning light perfectly spotlights the main rapids. The rushing waters sparkle and the surrounding foliage blazes, while a peaceful white noise fills the air, making it easy to linger (probably while taking dozens of pictures).
I slowly followed the trail downstream, stopping for eye candy often — check out the WonderMap below and you’ll see. The suspension bridge crossing the river to the 1.1 mile Baynard Trail was closed for historically correct repairs, as it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, so I kept hiking along the river until I reached the stationary pedestrian bridge. Here I crossed the river to hike the Florida Trail loop. Half of the FT follows the river, then it loops out through the surrounding forest, returning you to the bridge. This is a scenic, easy hike with impressively huge, ancient live oak trees in the forest.
Having explored all of the trails along the river, I went to the Wetlands Restoration Trail. This is an out & back hike totaling 3.2 miles, but it does connect to the much longer Fort King Trail (6.7 miles), and with Dead River Park. This Wetlands Trail is very much open and exposed, a sharp contrast to the forest edging the river. Clearly there is much more to explore out here, but both my mapping tools exhausted themselves before I finished this trail, so i called it a day.
This is another of Florida’s award-winning state parks and it’s easy to see why. Check out the Photo Gallery, WonderMap, Video and other links provided. I think this place just might make your bucket list. If not, check out our Bucket List and Where-to-Go to find your perfect spots to enjoy Florida’s Natural Wonders.
Hillsborough River State Park WonderMap. Tip >> Click on waypoint flags for GPS location photos.
Wetlands Restoration Trail WonderMap.
Garmin Version >> Rapids and FT
Garmin Version >> Wetlands Restoration Trail
Hillsborough River State Park
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
PDF Trail Map