Typical view [?]
NOTE: It seemed mowed
NOTE: Had none on my visit but very possible.
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
This is the write up for 3 spots. See more pics at Model Dairy Wetlands.
A Y shaped trail group connecting Hillsborough River State Park Wetlands Restoration Trail, Old Fort Foster / Dairy Road Preserve, and an entrance on Dead River Road. It's sort of a somewhat wet but mostly exposed mixed forest. I got the impression you might see wildlife here because it's not used all that much except for swamp run events and occasional hikers like me. But that's a guess.
I saw wading birds and a couple forest type birds like Phoebes, some raptors.
I saw deer and pig prints. A group of turkeys was out crossing the road as well.
The Fort King / Model Dairy entrance has a bathroom. The state park has everything a state park has but you'd probably drive from that entrance spot to bathrooms etc. The dead river side BARELY has room for a car or two to park.
The dead river road entrance is right in front of the gate to Dead River Park. Barely parking for 2 cars - you'll wonder if that is true when seeing it. There is a state park sign there though. See GPS coordinates on that page. The Old Fort King Trail / Model Dariy entrance is the one I point to in the map/address section of this page. The Hillsborough River State Park Wetlands Restoration Trail - it will be on maps there. The park is a big driving loop - it's at least 3/4 of the way around back to the park exit. It's on the right - the sign is pretty clear. It's not under a dense canopy of trees.
Looking at a map now (this is a crowd sourced gps map - I haven't seen print maps for this) - it looks like the Ft.King Trail keeps going to the river along the edge of the state park and Model Dairy. I didn't do that but I did the rest and that took about an hour - touching each of the 3 entrances. That's out and back. To go to the river I'd guess would be 45 minutes more round trip. I know the Ft.King trail continues on along that highway so I'm not sure if it keeps going past the river or if that is the end and it just continues out along the highway. SO - unless you walk out of this into other parks I'd say part of an afternoon is the max you're going to do. The model dairy parking lot is probably the best place to start and go towards the river until you've had enough.
I'm pointing three places here because they all overlap. This is a Y shaped trail. One line is from the back entrance to the state park on Dead River Road right before Dead River Road Park. Another is the Wetlands Restoration Trail at Hillsborough River State Park. And they both connect to part of the Old Fort King Trail which continues on a long way which in the time of killing Seminoles connected a little fort here to I believe Ft.Foster where the Tampa Convention center is now. On the side of that is Model Dairy Preserve I think it's called. I don't think they really advertise it but if you look at lists of preserves owned by Hillsborough County - that is one and there is a sign for it in the middle of all this.
The trail itself - All of it feels like jeep trail width grassy jeep trail / dirt road. The tree canopy is mostly oak and it's near the trail but not covering the trail. So it can get hot in summer but you might be better able to spot birds and even animals crossing the road a way up in front of you. The only other thing I'd really say about it is that despite being someplace you could drive it seems like you are in a somewhat remote spot and you kind of expect to see wildlife.
I wouldn't make this my destination for the day but if you've tried everything else in the areas this is worth stopping at. You're more likely to see wildlife here than the deep dark forests in the state park.
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