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Hillsborough River State Park

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

Andrew Thoreson
Nov 2022
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (22)

Snapshots! (7)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
How Big Not Rated
Importance Not Rated
Revisit? A
Birding D
Wildlife A
Summer Heat B
Terrain B *
Fun Hike B
Maintained B *
Mosquitos F *
Biting Files A *
Ticks C *
NOTE: Can get muddy if it rains a lot
NOTE: When repairs are budgeted (bridge)
NOTE: Never had any here... should though.
NOTE: Never had any here
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 15402 U.S. 301 N., Thonotosassa, FL, Hillsborough, USA, 33592

1) What It's Like

It's a big dense oak forest along the Hillsborough River where it isn't very wide. It has several features - A CCC constructed suspension bridge, one of the few places with river rapids in Florida, 6-10 miles of trails, a huge swimming pool with a cafe, and lots of camping space.

2) Kinds of Birds

In the trails there aren't all that many birds - the forest is pretty dense with a tall canopy. We've seen owls and hawks in those areas mostly. Out on the roads we've seen bobwhite (once). On the Wetlands Restoration Trail maybe some wading birds but not a lot. Nice hike - not so much a great birding spot.

3) Wildlife

It's a big forest so everything has to be in there but you have maybe a 40% chance of deer either on the roads or at the primitive camp sight near the half way mark on the "Seminole" trail (was the Florida Trail). I've seen turkey on the Wetlands restoration trail. I've seen armadillo and raccoon fairly often on the trails. I wouldn't say it's a wildlife mecca in terms of spotting things but it has it.

4) Amenities

Everything really. Bathrooms, RV camp stuff, lots of BBQ shelters, a meeting hall, a huge pool with cafe, kayak rentals I believe, a suspension bridge.

5) Directions

There's a main entrance and a back entrance off dead river road (to the right right before the outer gate to Dead River Park). That back entrance eventually gets to the Wetlands Restoration Trail.

6) Time Requirements

I usually spend 2-4 hours here. The river rapids trail is the most bang for the buck time-wise.


There is a main driving loop - one way one lane. Everything is on that. Skipping the RV stuff - the first entrance is the river rapids trail. Second is the suspension bridge trail after you walk through a big amphitheater of BBQ shelters under the tall tree canopy. Next you pass the pool. Last you pass the Wetlands Restoration Trail.

Entering the rapids trail it's a maybe 5-10 minute walk to them - you can hear them before seeing them. It's not like you're in colorado but it's fairly impressive and the river at this spot is scenic. It's pretty covered by the tree canopy. You cal walk along the trail to the left along the river and there are boardwalks that lead you to the suspension bridge area. Maybe that's a 15 minute walk. If you go over the bridge on the right is the Baynard trail. On the left is the Seminole Trail. Bring a map because you can mix it up. They just mark them as "primitive camp".  You can mix up which is the left side of the Seminole trail loop, the right side, and the Baynard trail all together. The Baynard loop is a little over a mile. It goes along the river for a bit. The Seminole Trail was always just called the Florida Trail. They seem to have rebranded it and erased mention of the Florida Trail so maybe that's a thing of the past. The Seminole Trail is about 3.5 miles. The left side follows the river and turns into the forest. The 2nd half (or the right side of the trail) is just dense hardwood forest. It feels like a nice forest but I can't say we see much in terms of large wildlife or birds.... but that's the nature of that kind of forest. The primitive camp site is 3/4 of the way along the right side. It used to be in good shape but in in recent years they've put up rules, put up an ad for how the Brandon Chamber of Commerce "improved" it... and now it's an overgrown bunch of much. You can still camp there but it's not a good sign. I'm guessing one too many successions of republican governors deciding on the State Park system funding - that and the hurricane Irma bridge damage basically meaning scratch one bridge here plus another on the Fort King Trail. Sometimes deer will hang out at this camp site - or at least they used to.

The Wetlands Restoration Trail off the main road at Hillsborough River State Park, Model Dairy Wetlands, Old Fort King Trail on Dairy Rd, and the back entrance to the state park on Dead River Road - they are all more or less the same thing. See the Fort King page for the write up and the other for more photos.

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