Hillsborough River State Park

Well, took the Itasca on the road for the second weekend in a row. This time about a 90 mile trip from the house to Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa. This park is located around 10 miles from LazyDays RV showroom, as a matter of fact if you’re traveling to the park via I-4, you take Exit 10, the LazyDays exit, and continue west until the road dead ends into US 301. Head north on 301 to the park entrance.

There are over 100 campsites in the campground, split into two loops, one next to the river. There are a couple of pull throughs in each loop, but most of the sites are back-in sites. There is electricity and water. A single dump station serves the entire park. When you enter the park, you are about a half a mile from the campground, but since the park is served by a single road that is one way and about 2 and half miles, you are about 2 miles from the campground. You turn away from the campground and pass through the parking lots that are associated with the park’s features.

Parking Lot #1 is where you park to take the tour to Ft. Foster. This is a wooden fort that is located across 301 from the park. Parking Lot #2 is near the river rapids. Parking Lot #3 is near the suspension bridge and Parking Lot #4 is next to the pool.

The site we were in was a large pull through in the Hammock Circle loop. There is no river in this loop, but the sites are shady and there is a playground (slide and swings) in the middle of the loop along with a bathhouse. This trip was one made with the Florida Pop-up Camper (FPUC) group. We arrived and got set up by about 1PM on Friday.

After having some lunch, we took advantage of the ranger led canoe trip that takes place every Friday at 2PM. You can call the park and make reservations (suggested), and then show up at 2PM at the concession stand. Our Ranger was Patrick, and there were eight other people on the trip beside the CurbCrusher family. Patrick carried out a safety briefing, issued everyone life jackets and paddles, and we wandered across the parking lot to the canoes. At the river’s edge, Patrick inquired as to everyone’s canoe experience. Canoe 1 had a “veteran” canoer and park volunteer along with a lady that was going to start volunteering at the park the next week. Canoe 2 had a woman and her adult son who had canoed before. Canoe 3 had Grandma, Ma, baby and teenage brother. Canoe 4 was the CurbCrusher family. We all mounted our canoes and pushed off. The first thing Mrs. CurbCrusher notices is the smell of cigarette smoke. We turn around and there is Mr. park volunteer puffing away. Mr. park volunteer then navigates his canoe in front of us and starts a running commentary on the fauna of the park. He points to a Bald Cypress tree and loudly announces that it is a “Cypress Oak.” Mrs. CurbCrusher asked for a clarification and he repeated “Cypress Oak” again. There apparently is such as thing as the “Cypress Oak“, but it is a cultivated tree, not one found on the river banks of south central Florida. We drifted down the river for about an hour, and then turned back. Your trip length will vary depending on the skills of group you are with. In our group, Canoe 3 dictated our speed as they were beginners and navigated the river by going from one side to the other.

Saturday involved some time at the pool. The was short though, as the pool was pretty cold. Little Curb Crusher was shivering after about 20 minutes in the pool, and never seemed to get warm enough to go back in. Both Saturday and Sunday were great lazy camping days, as we visited with friends from the FPUC group and took long walks and bike rides.

Pictures from the trip are here. 

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