Hillsborough River... Paddling in West Central Florida
Hillsborough River originates in the Green Swamp and flows about 50 miles to Hillsborough Bay. A 30-mile Designated Paddling Trail run from Hillsborough River State Park to Rowlett Park in Tampa. Much of the river is contained within protected wilderness areas. Multiple parks along the paddling trail offer many recreational opportunities, for launching or stopping off to stretch and snack. (Detailed map and photos below.)
The upper section from Hillsborough River State Park to Dead River Recreation Area, about 2.5 miles, is easy and suitable for beginners, rentals are available at Hillsborough River State Park.
The 5-mile section from Dead River Park to John Sargeant Park, also known as Seventeen Runs, is very difficult and suggested for experience paddlers only. This section is not maintained and has swift currents, many pullovers, and side channels that can be confusing.
The middle section From Sargeant Park to Morris Bridge to Trout Creek Park, about 7.5 miles, is a popular section of river, with easy to moderate paddling - a few pullovers may be encountered depending on water level. Excellent for wildlife viewing. Tree canopy provides shade. Only one parking fee is needed for these three parks, the others have separate fees.
The lower section from Trout Creek to Rowlett Park, 15.5 miles, is an easy paddle and goes through several residential neighborhoods. The dam at Rowlett Park creates a lake that provides water to the City of Tampa. The river above the dam is wider and more motorboats will be found here.
Wildlife include alligators, turtles, snakes, otters, bobcat and deer. Birds include herons, ibis, hawks, osprey and eagles, plus many other water and song birds. Habitats include live oak hammock, cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and freshwater marsh.
More information on paddling at Hillsborough River (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe
Support and AdvocacyHillsborough River State Park Preservation Society