Alafia River State Park

A few weeks ago we decided we wanted to check out a park we’ve never been to. After searching Southwest Florida we decided on Alafia River State Park. It’s close to Tampa, but far enough away to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere!

What was once a phosphate mine is now a 6,000+ acre state park! This park has everything from hiking and biking to horse trails and camping. Upon arrival though we realized this park is a mountain biker’s dream! When we pulled in the parking lot we were greeted by dozens of mountain bikers! I’d never seen so many in a state park before. We started looking at the map and realized that this place is not exactly what we were looking for. We were looking for a park with leisurely hiking with a diverse landscape.

We ended up finding a ‘Hiker’s Only’ trail called the Old Agrico Trail. This trail is about 3.5 miles and has a nice landscape. This would be a great trail to train for northern hiking on. There are many ups and downs, twists and turns, roots and dips. Most hiking in Southwest Florida is on extremely flat terrain, so this was a nice change. As we were hiking we could hear the mountain bikers whizzing by just over the hills. Sounded fun…and almost made me want to get into biking! Almost.

I didn’t like the lack of ‘Hiker’s Only’ trails. There were some multi-use trails, but the map was extremely confusing and we couldn’t find many of the trails. To be honest the map made almost no sense to us…and I can figure out almost any map. Trails weren’t where they looked like they should be. Also, the map made some look like multi-use trails but they ended up being ‘Biker’s Only’ trails. My wife was getting frustrated finding a good trail for us, so we ended up leaving much earlier than anticipated. Unless I had a reason to visit this park again I’d probably skip it.

As we were leaving we drove through the campsites just to check them out. The sites seemed nice and were a decent size. A few sites were outfitted with hitching posts so you could camp with your horse. That’s a nice feature that not many campgrounds offer! There was a very nice, new looking pavilion that would be great for a meal or to stay dry on a rainy day. More camping info can be found here.

If you’re looking for park close to Tampa that has a nice slight altitude change {hey, anything above sea level is an altitude change in Florida!} this may be the park for you. If you’re looking to mountain bike, this is definitely the place for you!

Have you been here? Share your experience!

2 thoughts on “Alafia River State Park”

  1. Great hiking! Portions are almost AT level with steep climbs! Mostly shady forest and relatively cool in summer. There are several hiker-only trails, connected to each other.

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