HILLSBOROUGH RIVER STATE PARK
Opened in 1938 as one of Florida?s first state parks, this park is divided by the swiftly flowing Hillsborough River. Fort Foster, a replica of an 1837 fort from the Second Seminole War, is located on the park grounds, adjacent to the river. Fort tours are offered on weekends or with a reservation. The river provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a canoe/kayak launch is available on the river. Canoes can be rented at the park?s concession, which also provides food, beverages, picnic supplies, and souvenirs. Hikers can walk over seven miles along four nature trails. The Wetlands Restoration Trail accommodates bicyclists and hikers. When the weather calls for it, visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim in the park?s ADA accessible swimming pool. The park offers full-facility camping and a youth/group tent campground. A primitive campsite is available via foot trail; reservations are recommended. Located 12 miles north of Tampa and six miles south of Zephyrhills on U.S. 301.
NATURE OF THE AREA
A variety of habitats in Hillsborough River State Park including pine flatwoods, floodplain swamp, hardwood hammock, cypress swamp, and grass pond allow for diverse plant and animal communities to be observed by our visitors. Whether on a trail or picnicking by the man-made swimming hole, bring your binoculars to get a good look at the wildlife. Additional information about identified animals seen in Hillsborough River State Park can be found in the Ranger Station.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
Hillsborough River State Park is significant in the twentieth century history of Florida as one of 9 elements of the New Deal-inspired Florida state park system and as one of the physical expressions of early-twentieth century recreation planning. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was the first New Deal agency to begin operations in Florida. From 1933 to 1942 the CCC and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs constructed an impressive collection of facilities throughout Florida.
A considerable portion of the public recreation facilities created by these programs is preserved in the state park system?s New Deal era parks: Florida Caverns State Park, Torreya State Park, Fort Clinch State Park, O?Leno State Park, Gold Head Branch State Park, Ravine State Gardens, Hillsborough River State Park, Highlands Hammock State Park and Myakka River State Park.
Land acquisition for Hillsborough River State Park began in 1934, and the park officially became part of the Florida state park system in 1935. The CCC began work at Hillsborough River State Park in 1934, when Company 1418 was transferred from Sebring to the small community of Sulphur Springs, northeast of Tampa. CCC Camp SP-71 served primarily as a forestry unit, erecting fire towers, planting seedlings and constructing fire lanes throughout Hillsborough County.
In 1934, a detachment of 60 CCC enrollees were sent from the camp to develop Hillsborough River State Park, under the supervision of the National Park Service. The state park was largely complete by July, 1938, when Camp SP-71 at Sulphur Springs was evacuated. The caretaker?s cottage, support buildings and the suspension bridge at Hillsborough River State Park were constructed between 1934 and 1936. Most of the park?s recreational facilities (including 5 overnight cabins that were subsequently removed) were constructed between 1935 and 1938. Additional wood frame and native stone residences were constructed by park personnel, and several picnic shelters and a boat house were constructed between 1939 and 1941 from NPS plans, probably by the Florida Park Service or its contractors.
The park consists of 1,040 upland acres, and 2,343 wetland/submerged acres for a total of 3,383 acres. Acquisition began in June, 1934.
Full Facility Camping
RV and Tent camping is available with electric on most of the campsites in our 108 site campground. Each site is equipped with water, a fire ring and picnic table. The Campground offers a dump station for your convenience since sewer hookups are not available on each campsite at this time. Pets are allowed with restrictions. Shopping is available at the park?s Outpost concession with basic food items and merchandise. Exhibits are located throughout the park. Swimming is available in ? acre man-made swimming area. The park offers many planned activities year-round. For more information on camping in our park simply click on the Reserve America link. Clicking on the park map or selecting one of the camping area links just below the park map will allow you to see a map of the individual campsite locations. Select any campsite icon to see a detailed description of the individual campsite and what it has to offer.
A primitive camp, located across the river is available via foot trail and reservations are recommended.
The youth camping area can handle groups up to 60 people at one time.
ACCOMMODATION AVAILABILITY CALENDARS
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The park offers seasonal swimming in an ADA accessible man-made swimming pool. Pool fees are per day per person for peoples ages 6 and up, children 5 years and younger are free, fees are paid at pool entrance. See Ranger Station for seasonal availability dates.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Canoeing is a popular activity in the park. Visitors may bring their own canoe or rent one at the park. Florida Sports Paddling Club a local paddling club, enjoys the park?s river access and makes regular use of it, contact them for more information about club activities at Hillsborough River State Park.
Canoeing is a popular activity in the park. Visitors may bring their own canoe or rent one at the park. Florida Sports Paddling Club a local paddling club, enjoys the park?s river access and makes regular use of it, contact them for more information about club activities at Hillsborough River State Park. (Seasonal) Canoe Tour and Canoe Rentals
Park visitors can fish in the Hillsborough River for bass, bream and catfish. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required for all anglers.
Visitors can picnic under one of the pavilions built by the CCC in the 1930s or at one of the other open picnic benches available throughout the park. Seven pavilions are available to rent. Call the Ranger?s Station for more information and availability at 813-987-6771. A fact sheet is provided for your information. For larger groups the Recreation Hall is available to rent.
Bicyclists are invited to ride on the 1.6 mile Wetlands Restoration Nature Trail as well as the 2.2 mile Park Loop and through the campgrounds. All visitors are encouraged to wear helmets for their safety and by law all children under 16 are required to wear helmets when riding bicycles on the road.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and the former contact station the Interpretive Center has exhibits and artifacts describing the Seminole Indian Wars. The Interpretive Center is open everyday from 8am to 5pm for visitors to browse through.
Pets are welcome in all outdoor areas of the park. Visitors should remember to clean up after their pets and keep pets on a 6 foot hand-held leash at all times. Service animals are welcome in all visitor use areas in the park. Please contact the Ranger Station for specific pet restrictions or inquiries.
Pet camping is available at Hillsborough River State Park. Pets must be confined, leashed (not to exceed six feet in length) or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times. Tethered pets must not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes. Quiet hours must be observed from 11:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. Pet owners must pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles. Florida law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies. Any pet that is noisy, dangerous, intimidating or destructive will not be allowed to remain in the park. Non-furbearing pets, such as reptiles, birds, or fish must be confined or under the physical control of the owner. Some animals may be prohibited on park property. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the camper being asked to board the pet outside the park or to leave the campground.
Hillsborough River State Park is located 9 miles north of Tampa and 6 miles south of Zephyrhills on US Highway 301.
From I-75, Southbound from Ocala take the SR 54. Exit #279 east to Hwy 301, travel South for 6 miles, and the park will be on your right-hand side.
From I-75, Northbound from Tampa take the Fowler Ave. Exit #265 east to Hwy 301, travel North for 9 miles, and the park will be on your left-hand side.
From I-4, West bound take Exit 10 go north on CR 579 to US 301, follow the signs and go North 7 miles the park will be on your left-hand side.
From I-4, East bound take Exit 7 (be careful of the merges) and go North on US 301 for 14 miles, the park will be on your left-hand side.