Typical view [?]
NOTE: Maybe C+
NOTE: Park exposed, most not, not sure if you're allowed to put your feet in the shallow river here.
NOTE: Except housing.
NOTE: Possible but haven't seen them
NOTE: I'd be surprised.
LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
It's a pretty nice trail that starts from Lithia Springs and goes along the Alafia river for awhile and continues on.
We've seen hawks inside the forest canopy. In general forest birds and water birds at the pond. Sometimes swallow tailed kites in parking area.
I've seen gopher tortoise, deer tracks, racoon tracks.
At Lithia - more or less the same park - there is everything you'd want.
Trailhead and parking is on left right after you pay to get into Lithia Springs or better yet ask them. Sometimes the county does guided night hikes here and other parks - highly recommended. There here: https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/calendar
I could say this about a few parks - little manatee river state park for one - and I don't know what is involved. BUT - have you thought of changing the trail so it doesn't pass so close to development? Because it just fundamentally ruins the hike and experience - almost - I still like this trail a lot. People say don't leave anything behind because it takes people out of the experience - this is way way worse than someone leaving a Starbucks cup. Plant some trees in front of the houses and just move the trail in 75 feet? It's mostly that farthest part of the end loop that's impossible. I volunteer for the work detail if that helps!
Give it an hour though it's rewarding right away if you're short on time.
I doubt the whole trail takes an hour. I'd say it feels immersed in the woods because it does but the problem is developers plopped down houses right on the trail - the pool pumps are so close it's kind of a noise problem. Such a sociopath thing to do - your houses get a view of the trails and preserve at the cost of the entire public being denied it.
Let me get down off my soapbox and continue...
There's a trailhead on the left after you pay to enter Lithia Springs park. First you pass a pond that usually has ducks and wading birds. Then for awhile you walk along the Alafia river. It's inviting because it's clear so you see fish and there's a bit of rarity - limestone rocks so there's a bit of water motion visible. Watch along the side of the trail for spots to walk down to the river. The trail turns to the left away from the river and it's a nice forest - mostly live oaks and cabbage palms plus diverse vegetation that makes it seem like a vibrant ecosystem. As it goes you'll be slapped in the face a couple times around here with a crappy housing development but it's not the worst of it. You reach a loop at the end where you come out of the brush and suddenly you can turn a hard right (or left) and it's a bit open. That continues and there are some sandy areas of interest - you might see animal tracks and maybe gopher tortoise. Then you round a turn and you're staring at this obnoxious back yard pool for a long time on a straight portion of the trail. Sometimes there's a loud stereo and nobody home. Sometimes it's just the pool pumps. During a night hike you get a security light in the face. It's very close - You could easily have a conversation with someone sitting there. I recommend looking to the side and listening to music or just skipping the end loop all together.
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