Picturesque Alafia River State Park, located in Hillsborough County, is only a short 40 minute drive from Tampa’s shopping, dining and entertainment.
This central Florida state park is a popular hot spot for mountain bikers because of its radical elevation changes, created long ago by phosphate mining. This hilly terrain has earned the park a stamp of approval by the International Mountain Bike Association.
More than 20 miles of these hilly trails wind through forests and along the river and lakes offering guests opportunities to bike, hike and horseback ride. Visitors also enjoy fishing, boating and camping inside this beautifully rustic state park.
Mountain biking is probably the biggest draw to this state park because its unique hilly terrain and rustic trails are ideal for riders of all ages and all levels.
But, Alafia River State Park is also a great place to camp, fish, kayak and discover nature and wildlife. And with its picnic pavilions, playground, modern restrooms and full-service bike shop you’re sure to have a pleasurable visit.
While visiting, don’t forget to check out the interactive displays inside the ranger station; and ask the rangers about nature programs, guided walks and campfire circles.
Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Alafia River State Park:
Boating at Alafia River State Park
Float under swamp tupelo, red maple and water hickory trees as you kayak along the scenic Alafia River. Access the river by using the boat ramp located on Thatcher Pond, just south of the park. Keep an eye out for alligators that may be resting along the shorelines.
Hiking at Alafia River State Park
There are more than 20 miles of multi-use trails through the forest inside Alafia River State Park. While most of the trails are designated for mountain bikes, some are shared. Please use caution when hiking when sharing trails with bicycles and horses.
Here are a couple of the trails at Alafia River State Park:
- Old Agrico Trail – This easy 0.8 mile trail, also shared with mountain bikes, contains many twists, turns and hills through the woods.
- North Creek to Bridges Loop – Moderate 2.9 mile trail past wildflowers and wildlife.
Biking at Alafia River State Park
Mountain biking is extremely popular inside Alafia River State Park because the landscape, once the site of a phosphate mine, provides for challenging trails with steep elevation changes throughout. This is why the park is deemed an International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation (IMBA).
Trails range from beginner to expert. The Sand Pine, Rock Garden and North Creek Trails connected together provide the rider with a moderate 5 mile loop through the woods and rock gardens.
A full service bike shop located within the park offers bike rentals and also repair services.
Fishing at Alafia River State Park
Fish for largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill along the banks of the river or one of the park’s many small lakes. A fishing pier is located on the South Prong of the Alafia River, a part of the river that is a blackwater stream. This stream, ideal for fishing and canoeing, is lined with hickory trees and red maple.
Don’t forget your Florida fishing license and gear.
Birding at Alafia River State Park
The woods and along the river and lakes are excellent spots to stop and birdwatch during your visit to Alafia River State Park. Pack your binoculars, pick up a bird list and seek out the stillness of early morning inside the park and see what you might discover.
Some birds to keep an eye out for: Green Heron, Bluebirds, Reddish Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Florida Blue-Jay, Northern Mockingbirds, bald eagles, owls, woodpeckers, hawks, cranes, pelicans and gulls.
Nature and Wildlife at Alafia River State Park
Spend a few hours or longer inside Alafia River State Park and discover some of the nature and wildlife of the area.
White-tailed deer, armadillos, possums, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, river otters, gopher tortoises, bobcats, wild boars, frogs, snakes and many species of birds may be sighted within the park’s woods.
Be aware of alligators while boating, fishing or walking along the river and lakes.
Pets at Alafia River State Park
Pets are permitted inside Alafia River State Park but must be on a hand held leash that’s no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not allowed inside any park buildings or on the biking trails.
Camping at Alafia River State Park
Alafia River State Park has camping areas for RVs, tents, groups, equestrian and glamping in peaceful wooded areas throughout the park.
The family style campground provides space for RVs or tents with electric and water hookups, picnic tables and nearby restrooms with solar heated showers.
The equestrian camping area has 12 sites with tie-outs, stables and 6 paddocks (available on a first-come, first-serve basis). The barn area has extra parking for trailers.
A primitive group camping area is intended for youth organizations of 6 or more. Each group of 10 underage campers must be accompanied by an adult.
The glamping area is maintained by Comfy Camping Glamping Rentals. Glamping is offered year round. These sites are fully furnished and include solar power and potable water.
Alafia River State Park
14326 S County Rd 39
Lithia, FL 33547
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing the mountain biking at Alafia River State Park:
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