Hillsborough River State Park

Location: Zephyrhills, Florida

Webpage: Florida State Park

General Description: During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps established the area surrounding the river rapids as a public park, which became the central feature of the 3400 acre Hillsborough River State Park.  The State Park has a large picnic area and campgrounds with electric and water hookups.  There are four main hiking trails.  The River Rapids Nature Trail is 1.2 miles along the south side of the Hillsborough River.  The Baynard Trail (1.1 mile loop) and Florida Trail (3.1 mile loop) are on the north side of the river and travel through a mix of bottomland hardwoods and pine flatwoods.  The Wetlands Restoration Nature Trail is a 1.6 mile (1 way) trail through cypress domes and hardwood hammocks south of the river.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) A very attractive State Park centered around the Hillsborough River.  The old offices have been converted into a small museum with a few exhibits about the Second Seminole War since this park also administers Fort Foster, which is just across US 301 for the Visitor Center.

2)The picnic area is very well maintained with numerous large pavilions and restroom facilities.

PicnicArea

3) The River Rapids Nature Trail is a nice easy walk along the river with bridges over the rougher areas.  These bridges allowed you to stay right on the river along the entire walk.  I was surprised to find a Class II rapid in Florida, but when I discovered it extends only about 100 feet as the river cuts through some Suwanee Limestone.  The CCC overlook at the falls is also very nicely done.

Rapids1 HillsboroughRiver

4) We did not take either of the two trails north of the river since the main access is across a wooden suspension bridge that was closed for repairs.  We also decided not to take the Wetlands Restoration Trail due to the rainy weather.

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