Exploring Hillsborough River State Park

Hands down, it’s one of the best state parks in Florida – at least in my book, that is! Exploring Hillsborough River State Park is magical, and different, and leaves you thirsty for more.

Located near Zephyrhills in Hillsborough County, it’s home to Fort Foster Historic Site and it’s one of the best parks for an incredibly unique hiking experience. Furthermore, it’s the only place where you’ll find Florida’s only Class II Rapids. And I didn’t even know we had those!

exploring hillsborough river state park next stop adventures

Quite honestly, of all the state parks I’ve been to so far, I can’t quite compare Hillsborough to any other Florida State Park.

Exploring Hillsborough: a one-of-a-kind state park in Florida

Arriving here was the easy part. Not wanting to leave… well, that was a whole different story!

The only thing I wasn’t really feeling about this park was the map. But it’s mainly for personal preference. Unfortunately, I’m really bad at reading maps and this one is not as easy to understand as other park maps. But like I said, it’s just me.

florida class ii rapids
Florida’s only Class II Rapids.

For me, just one day of exploring Hillsborough is definitely not enough. This is one of those parks where you will want to spend the whole day and come back again. Regardless, I made the most of this trip and enjoyed it to the max!

Also, arriving early is a must since it’s a big park with plenty to see. I hiked and explored a couple of different areas like the Flatwoods Pond and went inside the Interpretive Center. I also hiked along the wooden bridge and then headed to the Nature Trail (1.2 miles) that leads the way to the rapids.

exploring Hillsborough river bridge
The iconic Hillsborough River Bridge

Then, I hiked the Baynard Trail (1.1 miles) and finished exploring around the Poolside Café.

pavilion at florida state parks

Hillsborough River State Park has four trails to choose from for a total of approximately 7 miles of hiking!

Therefore, you’ll have plenty of more reasons to go back! Keep in mind that a big part of this park is located in lowland areas that are prone to flooding during Spring and Summer.

Be sure to plan your hiking trip accordingly and call the park for any updates before exploring Hillsborough.

sitting on a tree branch in Hillsborough river state park
Sitting on a tree branch at Hillsborough River State Park

Hiking Trails in Hillsborough River State Park

Baynard Trail – 1.1 miles

River Rapids Nature Trail – 1.2 miles

Wetlands Restoration Nature Trail – 1.6 miles

Florida Trail – 3.4 miles

prayer of the woods sign

Activities that you can enjoy in this park include camping, backpacking, paddling, Geocaching, and swimming.

Visiting this park is a very unique experience for all nature and hiking lovers. Words really can’t describe how beautiful this place is!

hiking trails in Hillsborough river

Exploring Hillsborough River State Park: Fort Foster Historic Site and Interpretive Center

This Fort is a reproduction of the original that was built on the same grounds in 1836. It was later set on fire by a small group of Seminoles.

I haven’t yet been able to make it to Fort Foster, but I certainly do plan to at some point. And when you do make a trip to Hillsborough River State Park, don’t leave without visiting the Interpretive Center!

Note: Tours to Fort Foster only take place every week, every Thursday at 10:30 am.

the second seminole war exhibit
The Interpretive Center is super nice!
brick chimney Florida State parks
interpretive center in Florida State parks

Plan your visit

Hours: Open daily from 8 am until sundown.

Fees: $6 per vehicle. Fort Foster Tours are $2 per person.

Location: 15402 US 301 N., Thonotosassa FL 33592

📍 Get Directions

Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is one 1/2 of the Next Stop Adventures dynamic duo with 15+ years of hiking experience and adventure travel. As a PADI-certified Scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Spain.

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