My 6 Favorite Hikes Near Tampa, Florida

There is much more to do in Tampa than savoring a Cuban sandwich, watching the NFL Buccaneers or MLB Rays play, or spending the day at Busch Gardens. In fact, the outdoor recreation found in the Tampa area is incredible from paddle boarding to kayaking and yes, even hiking.

Now, Tampa (and Florida in general) is not known for hikes to towering mountains or thundering waterfalls, but what the trails in the Tampa area lack in those amenities is more than made up for with the incredible scenery along the area’s rivers and backwaters, the wildlife that thrives around the parks and trails, and the wildflowers that brighten the paths.

Take time out from your Tampa vacation and get off the beaten path to explore the natural beauty of the area. To help get you started, here are six of my favorite hikes in the Big Guava — Tampa.

Remember, trails often change, so be sure to visit the links provided before heading out for updates.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

Table of Contents

1. Osprey-Pelican Loop Hike, Honeymoon Island State Park


  • Length: 2.6-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy over level terrain
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Hours: Open year-round 8 a.m. to sunset
  • Admission: $8 per vehicle day-use fee, $4 single-occupant vehicle 

This hike combines two trails at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, the Osprey Trail and Pelican Cove Trails, to create a beautiful walk along the banks of Pelican Cove and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Pelican Trail winds its way around the cove, where sea oats line the path and quietly sway in the breeze and where you will be able to take in beautiful ocean views and incredible fiery sunsets while relaxing on small white sand beaches.

Along the Osprey Loop trail, you will be walking through one of the last virgin slash pine forests and will be able to view dozens of ospreys as they put on an aerial show vying for dinner for their young chicks who wait anxiously in the large nests that line the route. 

Pro Tip: A Bit Of History And Note On Dogs

The island became known as Honeymoon Island in 1939 when a developer built 50 thatched-roof bungalows and with the help of Life magazine, held a contest where newlywed couples could win a 2-week “honeymoon” on the island. 

While the hike is easy overall, you will be walking on fine beach sand on the Pelican Cove Loop. Dogs are not allowed on the Pelican Trail but are allowed on the Osprey and must be on a leash.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

2. Robinson Preserve


  • Length: 3.3-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy over level terrain and boardwalks
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 2 hours
  • Hours: Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Admission: Free 

A combination of a traditional dirt footpath, gravel paths, and elevated boardwalks through wetlands lead to one incredible loop hike at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. 

The elevated boardwalks take you high above incredibly beautiful wetlands that are teeming with birds like great blue heron, egrets, wood stork, dowitcher, and the vibrant red-hued roseate spoonbill. Walk quietly and you will catch a glimpse of many sea and shore birds like the black-bellied plover and least tern.

As you near Tampa Bay, you will be sharing the path with fiddler crabs and maybe, just maybe, glimpse a gopher tortoise. 

A highlight of the hike is a climb up the five-story observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the 600-acre preserve.

Pro Tip: Beat The Crowds And Wet The Paddle 

The preserve is very popular, and you will never be walking alone. Beat the crowds by arriving first thing in the morning. The sunrise helps make the early hour well worth it. 

If you are a kayaker, Robinson Preserve also offers a spectacular paddle through 5 miles of bayous, along the banks of the Manatee River, and Perico and Palma Sola Bays.

3. Eureka Springs Conservation Park


  • Length: 0.3-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy over level terrain and boardwalks
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour
  • Hours: Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Admission: $2 parking fee

Established in 1938 by botanist Albert Greensburg, Eureka Springs Conservation Park is a 31-acre tropical botanical garden. The short loop trail leads hikers through a collection of rare and unusual tropical foliage and the largest collection of ferns in the state.

The trails leave the well-maintained rose garden and orchid house and head off through the park’s lush floodplain forest of tupelo, cypress, and maple trees.

Pro Tip: Fido Is Welcome 

Eureka Springs is very dog friendly with plenty of poop bag stations around. Just remember that dogs must be on a leash.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo credit: Wirestock Creators /

4. Hillsborough River State Park


  • Length: 6 miles total – a 2.8-mile out-and-back using the Rapids Trail and a short portion of the Baynard Trail plus a 3.2-mile loop on the Seminole Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy over relatively flat terrain
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Hours: Open year-round 8 a.m. to sunset
  • Admission: $6 per vehicle day-use fee, $4 single-occupant vehicle 

This hike uses three trails to complete a nice trek along the banks of the Hillsborough River in the park of the same name.

The highlights of the hike include a view of a rarity in the flat landscapes of Florida — Class II rapids in the river — and everyone’s favorite destination, crossing the river on a wonderful suspension bridge.

The trails take you through what is called a hydric hammock forest with pines, hardwoods, and a thick understory of palms and ferns.

The trails at Hillsborough River State Park are well maintained and easy to follow. For the hike described here, follow the Rapids Trail to get to the suspension bridge. Once you cross the river on the bridge, turn left (west) onto the Baynard Trail and follow it to the Seminole Trail to begin the loop portion of the hike. At the end of the loop, simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Pro Tip: Flood Warnings 

One quarter of the Hillsborough River State Park is in low-lying areas, making many trails prone to flooding in rainy weather. Check with park headquarters about trail closures before heading out.

Download a copy of Hillsborough River State Park’s trail map to get an idea of their fun trail system and the route described here.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo credit: Josh Younger /

5. Lettuce Lake Conservation Park


  • Length: 3.3-miles of trail that interconnect to allow different loops
  • Difficulty: Easy over relatively flat terrain
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Hours: Open year-round — spring/summer 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., fall/winter 8 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Admission: $2 per vehicle day-use fee (up to eight people per vehicle) 

Lettuce Lake Conservation Park is far from being a secret. In fact, it is one of the Tampa area’s most visited parks with plenty of wooded picnic areas, playgrounds, and one paved hiking trail that has exercise stations along the route.

The park is located in a natural floodplain of the Hillsborough River with many of the trails traveling through a hardwood swamp forest.

The highlight of hiking Lettuce Lake is the 3,500-foot boardwalk that leads you to the banks of the river and a three-story observation tower for a beautiful view of the river. 

There are three trails within the park that interconnect allowing for a couple of different routes. Trail maps are available online.

Pro Tips: Guided Hikes And Mostly Dog Friendly

Lettuce Lake features informative guided hikes on weekends led by park rangers or volunteers. Check their calendar for the latest tour schedule. 

While the park is generally dog friendly (they must be kept on a leash), dogs are not permitted on the boardwalk.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo credit: Jeremy A. Casado /

6. Brooker Creek Nature Preserve


  • Length: 4.3-miles of trail within the 1,121-acre preserve that interconnect to allow different loops
  • Difficulty: Easy over relatively flat terrain
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Hours: Open year-round, sunrise to sunset
  • Admission: No fee 

The trails at the Brooker Creek Nature Preserve in Odessa provide a nice walk in the woods, plain and simple. There is nothing truly outstanding about the hike except the peaceful solitude you will experience.

The 4.3-miles of trail within the preserve lead you through wide grassy meadows, a rugged cypress swamp, oak hammocks, and tall pines. The trails are generally grass and dirt paths and are easy walking. Each path is blazed with the color of the path’s name — the White, Red, Blue, and Yellow Trails. 

A trail map is available online or can be viewed at the trailhead kiosk. 

Pro Tips: Don’t Get Wet 

Once again, the trails at Booker Creek are in low-lying areas and may have standing water on them. Check the weather and let them dry out a bit before heading out after a good soaking rain.

— Update: 03-03-2023 — found an additional article 15 Best Day Hikes Near Tampa from the website for the keyword best hikes near tampa.

The Tampa Bay area is known for its beautiful beaches, some of which are considered the best in the country (like St. Pete Beach). It’s also known as Champa Bay for its outstanding sports teams. Tampa also is located close to a lot of Florida’s best nature, such as the Green Swamp Wilderness Area, several rivers, and several beautiful state parks. All of this nature provides tons of opportunities for hiking and exploring that nature. These top day hikes near Tampa give everyone a chance to see local plants and animals, unique ecosystems, and a bit of history. The best hiking trails in Tampa offer something for every skill level – from one mile to several miles and easy to moderate difficulty. Check these out the next you’re in Tampa.

Brooker Creek Preserve

Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs is the largest undeveloped natural area in Pinellas County. It covers 8,000 acres and protects the Brooker Creek watershed. Brooker Creek feeds Lake Tarpon, the largest lakes in Pinellas County. Hiking at Brooker Creek can encompass miles upon miles of trails or just a short walk from the Environmental Education Center. Hiking trails at Brooker Creek Preserve stretch nearly 20 miles. These include:

  • Friends Trail (aka Walk-Through Trail): 1.75 miles at Lora Lane
  • Scenic Horse Trail: 9+ miles off Old Keystone Road
  • Wildlands Trail: less than 1 mile to 4+ miles at 3940 Keystone Road
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Sawgrass Lake Park

Sawgrass Lake Park in St. Petersburg provides an opportunity to experience one of the most unique hikes near Tampa. The 400 acre park only offers 1.5 miles of trails; however, the main boardwalk passes through one of the largest maple swamps on Florida’s Gulf Coast and ends at Sawgrass Lake. An observation tower at the lake enables visitors to get a bird’s-eye-view of the lake and surrounding wetlands. A half-mile dirt trail meanders through an oak hammock. Thousands of birds migrate through the park each spring and autumn, attracting birdwatchers from around the state. Visitors who spend a morning at this park see birds, butterflies, animals, and plants in their natural settings.

Flatwoods Loop Trail

The Flatwoods Loop Trail or Flatwoods Park Trail is a paved, multi-use trail in New Tampa. The entire loop measures in at 11 miles. Anyone who wants to walk, cycle, or skate a lesser distance should complete an out-and-back route with a distance of their choosing. As a paved trail, the Flatwoods Loop offers accessible outdoor use for nearly everyone. Four handicap-accessible parking spaces in the main parking lot provide van accessibility to the trail. Several unpaved trails provide deeper access to nature and into the “woods”. Despite being paved, however, users of the main trail still report seeing an abundance of wildlife, including tortoises, deer, and bears.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin is best known for its public beach and pet beach. It’s over 2,000 acres of land and wetlands and offers many places for walking and watching wildlife. Though most people head straight to the beaches, the park also offers over two miles of trails. A short 1/3-mile trail loops around from the Nature Center near the entrance to Honeymoon Island. The longer Osprey and Pelican Cove Trails loop out and back from the northern part of the island. These trails pass through pine flatwoods where osprey, bald eagles, and barred owls nest. Mornings find bird-watchers with binoculars or high-powered camera lens stalking nests, especially in the spring when the eggs hatch. This habitat, however, is also home to deadly Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes, so it’s best to wear appropriate hiking shoes and keep one eye down to the ground. For those who prefer a beach walk, the walk from North Beach to the northern tip of Honeymoon Island is approximately 4 miles. The state allowed this part of the island to return to a more natural condition so the beach here is not always beach-like. In places, it’s rocky or nonexistent, forcing those who pass that way to walk briefly through the water.

LOCAL TIP: Take the ferry from Honeymoon Island to sister park, Caladesi Island State Park. Here, one can explore another shady nature trail through pines or walk the beach to discover warm Gulf waters and unique seashells. Caladesi is also a favorite destination for kayaking.

Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Cypress Creek Preserve

Cypress Creek Preserve covers almost 10,000 acres in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties. Southwest Florida Water Management District purchased the land to provide flood protection and a public water supply. Four trails throughout the preserve add up to nearly 20 miles of hiking for longer hikes near Tampa. The trails take hikers through hardwood forests, wetlands, and flatwoods. Trails are a combination of unpaved sand paths, dirt roads, and paved multi-use trails.

  • Cypress Creek Preserve Loop from Parkway Blvd: 4.1 miles
  • Cypress Creek Preserve Lower Loop from Parkway Blvd: 2.3 miles
  • Cypress Creek Preserve Loop via Pump Station Rd: 5.7 miles
  • Lizards Tail Red, Yellow, and Blue Loops: 6.4 miles

Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg gives visitors an opportunity to explore a variety of ecosystems and vistas. The Preserve covers over 3,000 acres of water and land. More than six miles of trails include over two miles of handicap-accessible boardwalks and paved trails. Weedon Island also boasts one of the most popular kayaking trails in the Tampa Bay area. Visitors to the nature trails see a bit of history (Weedon Island has a lot of that!) as well as mangroves, an observation tower, wetlands, and dry uplands. Trails at Weedon Island Preserve include:

  • Boyscout Lake Loop Trail: 1.9 miles
  • Lookout Point Trail: 1.9 miles
  • Riviera Trail: 0.4 miles
  • Tower Boardwalk: 0.8 miles
  • Bay Boardwalk: 0.9 miles
  • Upland Trail: 0.5 miles
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve

The Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve covers 16,000 acres and provides flood protection and a public water supply for this part of Tampa. This preserve has six parks and two equestrian recreational areas where hikers providing plenty of opportunities for hikes near Tampa. Due to the preserve’s purpose and location, trails can be muddy or flooded during the rainy season. They are also some of the longest trails for hiking near Tampa. The most popular trails include:

  • Morris Bridge Park Loop: 14.4 miles
  • Wilderness Park Main Loop: 1.5 miles
  • Dead River Trail: 4.9 miles
  • Flatwoods Park Trail to Morris Bridge Park Loop: 14.9 miles
  • Jefferson Equestrian and Hiking Trail: 10.2 miles
  • Oakridge Equestrian Trail: 6.6 miles

Read more  7 Best Hidden Caves In Sedona + How To Find Them

Hillsborough River State Park

This beautiful and unique state park offers nearly twenty miles of hiking trails near Tampa to explore. Visitors to Hillsborough River State Park might choose the shorter mile-long trails or longer trails with more moderate difficulties. While the shorter trails follow the path of the river for amazing views, the longer ones allow hikers to get some serious miles under their shoes. Hiking in Hillsborough River State Park takes one through hydric hammocks, which can be muddy during the rainy season, as well as through pine flatwoods with more sandy soil. Trails in the park include:

  • River Rapids Trail: 1.3 miles
  • Baynard Trail: 1.1 miles
  • Seminole Trail Loop: 3.4 miles
  • Wetlands Restoration Trail: 1.6 miles
  • Fort King Trail (not within the park): 13.1 miles
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Bell Creek Nature Preserve

Bell Creek Preserve protects 477 acres near Riverview, southeast of Tampa. It also preserves a wildlife corridor and extends an existing greenway. These hiking trails near Tampa pass through various terrain, including mature trees and open fields. Most of the trails are open and sunny. The trails are divided into three loops – red, blue, and yellow – totaling eight miles. The most popular route is called Snaggy Run and totals 4.5 miles. Bell Creek Preserve also serves as one of two administrative offices for the Conservation and Environmental Lands Management department. This office serves administration purposes and sells park and boat ramp passes for Hillsborough County facilities.

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of St. Petersburg’s gems. Originally a zoo and garden for exotic plants, preserve caretakers work daily to return and keep the 245 acres in a natural state. Over six miles of nature trails pass through a variety of ecosystems, including hardwood hammocks filled with graceful oaks, sandy scrub, and pine flatwoods. Boyd Hill is on the south shore of Lake Maggiore and one of the most popular hikes near Tampa. The St. Petersburg skyline can be seen from a bridge to a small island in the lake and from various vantage points along the Lakeside Trail. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve underwent additions and upgrades to include expanded, a campground, and a hall to use for rental space. The park also offers Pinellas Pioneer Settlement, a living history museum, and Lake Maggiore Environmental Center which offers nature camps and educational programs

Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Alafia River State Park

Alafia River State Park in Lithia calls out to all outdoor enthusiasts, especially mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders. Once a phosphate mine, it has some of the most extreme elevation changes in Florida, perfect for mountain biking. Hikers get a little of that challenge as well on some trails. Twenty miles of multi-use trails give hikers plenty of opportunities to experience hilly terrain through forests and pine flatwoods. Lakeside rest areas provide beautiful places to catch your breath or just take a quick look at one of the park’s pristine lakes. Trails criss-cross and loop back to each other Alafia River State Park, so it’s suitable for hikers of all skill and stamina levels.

John Chesnut Park

John Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor covers over 250 acres next to Lake Tarpon. It features a variety of trails – paved, unpaved, and boardwalks – for hikers, walkers, and joggers. The Chesnut Loop Trail on the north side of the park includes fishing docks and an observation tower. At 2.70 miles, it’s the most popular trail in the park. The less used Peggy Park Trail runs through hydric hammock and along Brooker Creek to Lake Tarpon before it loops back to the parking area. It’s just over a mile. Combine both trails and the walking distance between them for a longer hike between four and miles..

Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Violet Cury Preserve

The 160-acre sanctuary at Violet Cury Preserve in Lutz showcases some of Florida’s stunning ecosystems, such as pine flatwoods, marshes, sandhill, and oak hammocks. Flynn Lake provides a beautiful focal point for the preserve around which the 2.25 mile trail traverses. Though the preserve offers no amenities, visitors find the natural diversity and quiet a welcome respite from Tampa’s city life. Be aware that the preserve also does not provide a parking lot; however, parking is permitted on the side of Sinclair Hills Road.

Hammock Park

Ask residents of Dunedin to name their favorite park and Hammock Park often springs from their lips. Offering 90 acres of nature in the heart of the city, visitors to this park enjoy five miles of unpaved trails and boardwalks, three picnic pavilions, an observation platform, a disc golf course, and a butterfly garden. Abundant wildlife can be found in the park, including many bird species, small mammals, and coyotes. Native plants thrive in the many ecosystems found in this small preserve. The shaded trails draw runners, dog walkers, and families intent on exploring.

Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

Lettuce Lake Park

Lettuce Lake Park provides the last of our top day hikes near Tampa. One of Tampa’s most-visited parks, Lettuce Lake Park features views of the Hillsborough River’s untamed waters, picnic pavilions, a playground, and a little over 3 miles of trails and boardwalks. The 3/4-mile boardwalk follows the river to end at an observation tower. Elsewhere in the park, the Hammock trail and hiking trail offer over two miles of trails to enjoy the area’s nature. More than half of Lettuce Lake Park lies in the river’s natural floodplain, a hardwood swamp forest. Visitors can also rent canoes or kayaks at the park to explore the Hillsborough River.

Final Thoughts on Hikes Near Tampa

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and need a nature break from business, sports, or family, try one of these 15 beautiful day hikes near Tampa. With trails that pass through the area’s many ecosystems and show off the natural flora and fauna, these parks and preserves are the best places for hiking in Tampa. Looking for hiking trails in another part of the sunshine state? Check out this article about the best hiking trails in Florida.

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Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, tag us and use the hashtag #wanderflorida. We can’t wait to see your travels through Florida!

Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

— Update: 03-03-2023 — found an additional article 14 Stunning Spots to Go Hiking in Tampa for All Levels from the website for the keyword best hikes near tampa.

Tampa is an amazing city known for the Bucaneers and its many white sand beaches. Admittedly, people don’t really associate Tampa with hiking or outdoor activities. However, during the cooler months of the year, there are some really special and beautiful places to go hiking in Tampa to learn more about local wildlife and ecosystems. Additionally, many trails in Tampa are exceptionally beautiful, with swamp or seaside terrain and lush vegetation. We created this guide to 15 wonderful hikes in Tampa so you can plan your next outdoor adventure!

Want more outdoor activities in Tampa?

  • 12 Stunning Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking in the Tampa Bay Area
Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: PilotGirl (Flickr CC)

Easy Hikes in Tampa

Lettuce Lake Park Loop

  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles
  • Location: Lettuce Lake Regional Park

For a short, easy hike close to home, the Lettuce Lake Park Loop is one of the best hikes in Tampa. Not only is the hike convenient to get to, but it’s also quite scenic, with well-maintained wooden boardwalks and mossy trees scattered throughout the trail. It’s also home to many unique bird species, including herons, egrets, ibis, and spoonbills. You can also catch a glimpse of several other species, including alligators and armadillo. For a quintessential Flordia hike without having to stray too far, Lettuce Lake is a perfect choice.

Little Manatee Short Loop

  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Location: Little Manatee River State Park

Little Manatee River is one of the many rivers in the Tampa area, and it’s a beautiful spot to go hiking in Tampa. True to its name, if you get lucky, you might even catch a manatee swimming in the quiet, clear waters of the river! Known for being a prime spot for wildlife watching, there are also many reptile and bird species that live in the area. Because of the swampy environment, be sure to bring bug spray and use it liberally – they can get quite vicious here.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Kim Seng (Flickr CC)

Banyard and Seminole Trails

  • Trail Length: 5.5 miles
  • Location: Hillsborough River State Park

From rivers to forests, Hillsborough River State Park has it all, and the Banyard and Seminole Trails are no exception! These two trails form a nice, easy 5.5-mile loop around the park, with beautiful dirt paths and wooden bridges passing through lush, mossy biospheres. Along the way, you’ll find swamps (with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities), quiet rivers, and unique, eerie trees.

Honeymoon Island and Caladesi State Parks

  • Trail Length: 2.5+ miles (depends on trails chosen)
  • Location: Dunedin, FL

Located off the coast of the Tampa area, Honeymoon Island and Caladesi State Parks provide a beautiful, white sand outdoor getaway that you’ll be sure to remember. These parks occupy two separate islands; you can get to Honeymoon Island by car, but need to take a ferry to continue on to Caladesi. Here, you’ll find lots of palm trees, white sand beaches, and sparkling blue waters. Additionally, these are both fantastic places for seafowl watching, especially during the off-peak hours.

On Honeymoon Island, hikers generally enjoy the Osprey and Pelican trails. Caladesi offers a nice 2.8-mile loop trail as well. Regardless of which trail(s) you choose, bring LOTS of bug spray – there are lots of mosquitos in the area that can be vicious without protection.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: City of St. Pete (Flickr CC)

Boyd Hill Main and Lakeside Trail Loop

  • Trail Length: 3.3 miles
  • Location: Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

If you want to explore a swampy area on wooden boardwalk trails, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of the few hikes in Tampa and the surrounding areas to do so. While this park is quite scenic, surrounded by mossy vegetation and shady trees, is its abundance of wildlife (in particular, alligators and armadillos).

As referenced by the large armadillo statue along the trail, many species of wildlife – including reptiles, mammals, and birds – call Boyd Hill home. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the park hours are extended, making it easier to view wildlife in the morning or early evening.

Robinson Preserve

  • Trail Length: 7.5 miles
  • Location: Bradenton, FL

For even more wildlife and a longer (but still accessible) trail, the Robinson Preserve Trail is a fantastic option for hiking near Tampa. This beautiful recreational area offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and paddling to see some of the unique bird species and mangrove areas that are indigenous to this part of Florida. Locals who frequent this trail love how secluded it is, citing it as a great way to escape the city and feel totally immersed in nature.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife (Flickr CC)

Rainbow Springs Falls

  • Trail Length: 2.1 miles
  • Location: Rainbow Springs State Park

As the only waterfall hike on our list, Rainbow Springs Falls is one of the more unique hikes in Tampa and the surrounding areas. Instead of swamps and wildlife, this park features a large spring area and a quaint waterfall that sits beautifully in a tropical-looking backdrop. The hike itself is only 2.1 miles, perfect for those not wanting to spend too long on the trails. Afterward, you can take a dip in the Rainbow Springs swimming area to get some cold relief from the Florida heat.

Weedon Island Preserve

  • Trail Length: 4.3 miles
  • Location: Weedon Island Preserve

Mangroves, mossy trees, and wooded boardwalks make the Weedon Island Preserve trail a local favorite. The boardwalks here extend around a massive mangrove forest, which is perfect for wildlife viewing and enjoying the eerie scenery, with tree roots and wide canopies galore. There’s also a lookout tower on the trail to get some bird’s eye views of the park. You can also opt to canoe or kayak here to explore the mangroves even further – just be sure to bring a LOT of strong bug spray.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Diana Robinson (Flickr CC)

Fort De Soto Park

  • Trail Length: 1.5 to 4+ miles
  • Location: Fort De Soto Park

A largely oceanside trail, the Fort De Soto Park trail is a lovely, short, easy hike along the shoreline in a very scenic island near St. Petersburg. As one of the quieter hikes in Tampa, the Fort De Soto Park area is known for incredible bird watching opportunities. While the trail is short, it provides a great place to learn about nature and soak in ocean views. It’s a little wilder and more overgrown than some of the other places on our list, so if you’re seeking a more rugged trail, this is a cool option.

Terra Ceia and South Restoration Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.1 miles
  • Location: Emerson Point Preserve

Quiet, gravel paths wind through the lush forests of Emerson Point Preserve, and the Terra Ceia and South Restoration Loop is a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful nature here. There’s also a lovely tower you can climb to capture views of the park and the nearby bridge. You can also catch a wide variety of wildlife here, from bird species to dolphins and manatees to turtles and snakes. There’s something for everyone on this easy, accessible spot for hiking near Tampa.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Steven Martin (Flickr CC)

Moderate & Hard Hikes in Tampa

Weeki Wachee River

  • Trail Length: 5.5 miles
  • Location: Spring Hill, Florida

The Weeki Wachee River is well-known for some of its more famous aspects, like a large waterpark and kayak and canoe tours, but it’s less well-known for its hiking. However, hiking here can be a real gem, and the trail from Weeki Wachee Spring to Gardens is a must-do if you want to experience this area in a quieter, more contemplative way.

Located in a state park of the same name, the trail follows the river, which boasts crystal clear water that’s sightly tinted light blue. Plus, while walking or paddling in the area, you have the chance to see manatees! (Reason enough to go, right?!)

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Allen Forrest (Flickr CC)

Big Shoals Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Location: Big Shoals State Park

The Big Shoals Trail in Big Shoals State Park is a beautiful, slightly more challenging hike that’s suitable for hikers of all levels. Here, the trail brings you past a river to eerie, cool swampy areas that feature trees with protruding roots and local wildlife. Nearby, there are river rapids you can admire, a rarity in the mostly swampy waters of central Florida. Additionally, vibrant plant life surrounds the trail, providing shade from the sunlight and some beautiful spots for photography.

Old Welcome Trails Loop

  • Trail Length: 7.9 miles
  • Location: Lithia, Florida

Whether you’re looking for prairie, swamp areas, or mossy forests, the Old Welcome Trails Loop has it all. This area is actually separated into several shorter trails, but the 7.9-mile loop trail will take you past all the highlights. There have been many reports of wildlife spottings, like deer and birds, and visitors will certainly enjoy the solitude and escape from the city that this peaceful, serene environment provides.

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Michel Curi (Flickr CC)

Alafia River State Park

  • Trail Length: Up to 6.4 miles
  • Location: Alafia River State Park

Our absolute favorite park for hiking near Tampa is Alafia River State Park, which is home to some of the most quintessential Florida landscapes in the area. The many trails here cut through thick, mossy vegetation and pass by tranquil swamp areas, and you’ll have the chance to view many species of wildlife here! For an extra challenge, the terrain here changes from dirt paths to san to boardwalks, providing a lot of variety and diversity along the way.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Tampa

What to Pack

  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to wear a sweat-wicking shirt and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women (a must for hiking in Seattle). And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we suggest throwing them in your car just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo cork trekking poles, which are lightweight, easy to transport, and durable.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – Sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Read more  Hikes Within 30 Minutes of Vancouver

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  • Best Hiking Shorts for Men for Comfort on Any Trail
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— Update: 06-03-2023 — found an additional article 12 Best Hikes In Tampa You Shouldn’t Miss from the website for the keyword best hikes near tampa.

Florida has a lot of unexpected activities, for example, you might be surprised to learn that there are some amazing hikes in Tampa and the surrounding Bay Area! Florida has some of the best year-round weather, so you can enjoy these hikes whenever you are in need of some fresh air and exercise.

Hiking can be extremely beneficial to your overall well-being. Some of the health benefits attributed to hiking include lower stress levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved mood. So, not only is it a fun way to explore nature, but you are also increasing your quality of life.

Some of the hikes in Tampa are located on nature preserves, include rivers, and are dog-friendly. Hiking is a versatile activity that can be enjoyed solo, with a friend, or even with your entire family. It is a perfect way to disconnect from screens and reconnect with yourself or loved ones and is truly one of the best things to do in Tampa!

So, come with us and we will give you all of the important details! We will be sure to include what to expect, any fees for parking or entrance, and whether or not it is dog-friendly. Get ready to find your new favorite afternoon activity with one of our amazing hikes in Tampa!

Best hikes near tampa

12 Best Hikes In Tampa You Shouldn’t Miss

Eureka Springs Conservation Park

Eureka Springs Conservation Park was first created in 1938 by botanist Albert Greensburg as a botanical garden of rare and peculiar tropical plants. In 1967, Greensburg gifted his beloved site to Hillsborough County, which made Eureka Springs Park the only botanical garden in the county.

Plant lovers will adore the 31-acres, especially the largest publicly owned collection of ferns in Florida. You also won’t want to miss seeing the park’s rose garden and orchid room.

Eureka Springs Conservation Park has some of the best hikes in Tampa because they feature paved walking trails and the boardwalks that cut through a gorgeous green forest of maples, cypresses, and tupelo.

Some of the amenities include a greenhouse, shelters, picnic tables, restrooms, a party pavilion, and interpretive trails. It is dog friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friend as long as they are on the 6 foot leash.

The park is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on the weekends from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.. Admission is $2 per car.

Best hikes near tampa

Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park

Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park was founded in 1982 to ensure a safe area for nature study and community recreation. The park consists of 596 acres and is home to important coastal habitat and ecological groups.

You will find mangrove forests, freshwater marshes, coastal hammocks, salt marshes, and pine flatwoods. The Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park is one of the most exciting hikes in Tampa because you have to opportunity to see gopher tortoises, bobcats, and zebra swallowtail butterflies.

If you’re lucky, you might also see red shouldered hawks, bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, ospreys, manatees, otters, bottle nosed dolphins, and alligators! Please note that you should never feed the wildlife you encounter, but you can enjoy taking lots of pictures.

Parks hours are from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily and admission is only $2 per vehicle. Amenities include picnic tables, restrooms, kayak and canoe rental, BBQ grills, and playgrounds. Leashed dogs are welcome.

Morris Bridge Park

Morris Bridge Park features one of the longest hikes in Tampa coming in at 14.4 miles long. It is a great spot to check out for those looking for a well-maintained long pathway that gives a very peaceful and secluded vibe.

Morris Bridge Park is popular with biking enthusiasts, but don’t let that deter you from visiting this amazing trail. The pathway is rather wide and provides ample space for all to enjoy it safely.

Some of the wildlife you might get to see includes butterflies, armadillos, snakes, turtles, frogs, and tons of birds. Daily hours are from sunrise until sunset and parking is $2 per car.

Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed and the owners pick up after them. We highly recommend bug spray or long pants and sleeves as the area attracts mosquitos.

Lettuce Lake Park

Lettuce Lake Park consists of 240 acres of stunning Florida land that includes parts of the Hillsborough River. Plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife including birds, bunnies, and alligators.

The park features large playgrounds and picnic areas. You can choose between the 1.25 mile paved exercise trail or the 1/2 mile boardwalk. Part of the boardwalk has an observation tower that offers some stunning views of the Hillsborough River.

In addition to hiking, you can also rent kayaks and canoes at the front entrance for moderate fee. Restrooms are conveniently found throughout the park.

Lettuce Lake Park makes our list of the best hikes in Tampa because most of the trails are partially shaded which makes it very comfortable and enjoyable during the extremely warm weather.

Operating hours during Summer and Spring are from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. Fall and Winter hours are from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. The entrance fee is $2 per vehicle and it is a leashed dog-friendly park.

Best hikes near tampa

Cypress Point Park

Do you love the beach? If so, then you will absolutely want to check out Cypress Point Park! It is one of the best hikes in Tampa for amazing beach views.

You can expect to find two partially shaded hiking trails that offer beautiful nature and wildlife scenery. One trail is pave and the other is not, but they wind throughout the park and connect at certain points.

In addition to excellent Florida beach style hiking, you can enjoy the playground with a beach view, disc golf course, picnic shelters, and sand volleyball court.

The park hours are from sunrise to sunset daily. There is no entrance fee, but there might be a small parking fee depending on where you find a spot. Dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Flatwoods Park Trail

Flatwoods Park Trail is not only one of the best hikes in Tampa but is it also a great trail for skating, cycling, and jogging. The trail is 7 miles in length and is fully paved which creates a very smooth and safe hike.

During your hike, you might get to see armadillos, turtles, hawks, and maybe even a deer. We highly suggest sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses as this trail is very open with little to no shade.

Throughout the 7 mile long trail loop you will find several places to stop that include restrooms, water stations, grills, and picnic tables. Rangers patrol the trail frequently to ensure safety.

It is leashed dog-friendly and open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. The parking fee is $2 per car.

Best hikes near tampa

Al Lopez Park

Al Lopez Park features a woodsy 1.2-mile paved trail that is looped. Along the trail, you will find restrooms, picnic shelters, BBQ grills, fishing piers, two ponds, a community center, fitness stations, and a dog park.

Al Lopez Park is one of the best hikes in Tampa for those that want to bring their kids along. You will find a wonderful playground that will serve as a great spot for your kids to let out some energy and break up the hike.

Admission is free and the daily hours are from sunrise to sunset. There are tons of large trees all throughout the park, so it is very easy to find shade on hot days.

The park contains several ponds and lakes that are great for spotting alligators, turtles, and egrets. Make sure to bring a camera along on your hike to capture all of the beautiful Florida wildlife.

Rocky Creek Trails Nature Preserve

Rocky Creek Trails Nature Preserve is one the hikes in Tampa that is great for beginner hikers or people with limited energy as it is a short trail. The trail is a half mile in total length and it gets a lot of traffic.

The trail is well-maintained and consists of both unpaved and boardwalk areas. Rocky Creek Trails Nature Preserve is well known for bird watching and pretty wildflowers.

The entrance fee is $2 per vehicle and pets are welcome. Bikes are not allowed on this trail, so you don’t have to worry about fast traffic. Daily operating hours are from sunrise to sunset.

Hillsborough River State Park

Now, we visit one of the historic site hikes in Tampa. The Hillsborough River State Park is home to Fort Foster which was utilized during the second Seminole war. It is truly one of the Best Hikes In Florida you must see!

The park features four different hiking trails that total 7.3 miles. The trails guide hikers through lush hydric hammock forest. Elevation changes are found throughout the trail and as well as interpretive displays.

The Wetlands Trail has a diverse variety of flora and fauna. If you pay close attention, you might be able to spot the rare Blazing Star flower that has pink and purple petals; a favorite for monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.

It is common to see hawks, eagles, bobcats, and songbirds while hiking at the Hillsborough River State Park. The park is open from sunrise until sunset and the entrance fee is $6 per vehicle.

Best hikes near tampa

Brooker Creek Preserve

The Brooker Creek Preserve has almost 5 miles worth of boardwalk hikes in Tampa. The Uplands Trail winds through pine flatwoods and oak hammocks.

The preserve is actually located slightly outside of Tampa in Tarpon Springs. Looking for something else to do before or after your hike? If so, you should absolutely check out these 12 Fun Things To Do In Tarpon Springs!

During your hike you might see burned brush, but don’t be concerned because this is evidence of prescribed fires. Definitely stay alert and have your camera ready as you might see deer, gopher tortises, and turkeys.

If you are an experienced hiker, you won’t want to miss checking out the Pine Needle Path Loop Trail. It is 4 miles long and take you through pine flatwoods, forested wetlands, cypress swamps, and you will cross a channel of the Brooker Creek.

Pets and bikes are not allowed within Brooker Creek Preserve. Operating hours are from 7 a.m. until one hour prior to sunset daily. And admission is free!

Best hikes near tampa

Channel Park Trailhead

Channel Park Trailhead is a very active hiking spot, so you never feel too secluded or alone. The trail is well paved and perfect for solo hikers that like a populated hiking experience.

It makes our list of best hikes in Tampa because of its wide open spaces, miles of hiking opportunities, and water stations. Restrooms are easily accessible and found along the trail.

Amenities include BBQ grills, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. The parking fee is $2 per vehicle and it is open from sunrise until sunset.

Cypress Creek Preserve

The Cypress Creek Nature Preserve consists of 2,500 acres that extends into Pasco and Polk Counties. The preserve habitat includes hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, swamps, wet prairies, freshwater marshes, and cypress stands.

The hiking trail is 4.7 miles long and primarily used by bird watchers and hiking enthusiasts. Definitely one of the most authentic natural Florida hikes in Tampa as it is mostly untouched or revised by man.

You can expect to find some shaded areas, but it is mostly full sun. We suggest wearing boots or waterproof shoes as the area can be a bit muddy and wet in some spots.

Daily hours are from sunrise to sunset and pets are welcome. No fees for parking or entrance to the preserve. If you are planning on staying in the Tampa Bay Area for a few days, here are the 19 Best Days Trips From Tampa Worth The Effort!

Best hikes near tampa

Well, we hope you have enjoyed touring all of these amazing hikes in Tampa. Remember to dress comfortably, wear sunscreen, bring a hat and sunglasses, and fully charge your phone. Oh and definitely bring your camera so you can capture all of the natural Florida beauty and have lasting memories of your hikes in Tampa.

— Update: 10-03-2023 — found an additional article Off the beaten path: 15 Tampa Bay trails to explore from the website for the keyword best hikes near tampa.

You’re likely quarantined out. Tired of having to stay indoors and avoid large crowds.

There’s an easy solution. And if you’re lucky, it might be within walking distance.

I spent the past two weeks discovering some of the best trails in Tampa Bay. No, we don’t have mountains to climb or breathtaking views from down below, but we have a lot of land and hidden gems between the sawgrass and palm trees.

Quickly overwhelmed at the never-ending list online, I gave some moderately popular and lesser-known trails a go (bringing my dog, Thor, along when I could). And I wasn’t selfish; some of my co-workers got in on the fun, too.

A native Floridian, I had no idea half of these existed. Now, my list keeps growing and there are even more trails to tackle.

Have a favorite we should add to our explorations? Let us know.

East Tampa

Alderman’s Ford Park Trail & Alafia River Corridor Preserve Trail

One of the boardwalk bridges at Alderman's Ford Park Trail. The 1.8-mile paved loop features a connected, half-mile boardwalk loop, too. [ Mari Faiello ]

I learned a few lessons hiking Alderman’s Ford Park Trail. It is dog-friendly, so I took my 2-year-old German Shepherd, Thor. But it was also the middle of the afternoon, in Florida. Need I say more? The great news is that if you’re like me and forget an adequate rain jacket or umbrella, there are a few places along the paved path to hide in until the rain passes. There are also plenty of dog poop bag spots along the way, which are helpful when you’re trying to protect your socks from getting wet. The paved path was a great loop for us, running right along the Alafia River more times than not. There’s also a 1/2-mile boardwalk loop, but no dogs or bikes are allowed in that area. There’s a good bit of shade, but pack some bug spray and a hat just in case. If you’re up for a more daunting task, you can tackle the 9.9-mile loop right next to the baseball fields. Don’t forget your $2 to use the park (if no attendant is present, use your credit card at the machine).

Distance: Trails range from 1.9 miles (paved loop) to 9.9 miles

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Amenities: Restrooms (along paved path), some open benches and dog-friendly

Trail mix: Make sure you stop by Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ & Grill for a bite to eat after you finish your hike.

Related: Read: 15 more Tampa Bay-area trails to hike, bike, explore

Chito Branch Reserve

Hikers should look out for deer, snakes and birds along the Chito Branch Reserve trail, which offers hikes ranging from 2.3 to 4.8 miles. Watch out for small white diamond markers along the path to make sure you stay on the trail. [ Mari Faiello ]

If you’re looking for a secluded trail with a Florida-esque feel, this might be your place. The trail isn’t paved and can be difficult to follow, but for 0.3 miles or so there are white diamonds to let you know which direction to go to keep along the trail. Some old horse droppings are a giveaway, too, that civilization was here at one point. Bring your baseball cap and sunscreen if you’re going on a sunny day, because the trail is only partially shaded. It’s probably best to wear closed-toe shoes, given much of the trail is through high grass (mid-calf) and not well-maintained. Keep an eye out for snakes in the brush and deer sightings, too.

Distance: Trails range from 2.3 miles to 4.8 miles

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Amenities: No restrooms or water, horse-friendly, biking, lots of wildlife

Trail mix: Stop by the 7-11 convenience store on Lithia Pinecrest Road and Fishhawk Boulevard afterward and cool off with a nice Slurpee.

Singing Bluffs Trail at Medard Park

Along the Singing Bluffs Trail at Medard Park, hikers can look out on the water and see a fishing pier in the distance. [ Mari Faiello ]

Don’t forget to bring $2 in cash when you visit Medard Park. The county park offers a variety of trails and even some camping options for those interested in spending a night or two out in the wild. Follow the dirt path along the Singing Bluffs Trail, and you’ll get to see some cool views of the water, too. If you want to make a day of it, rent some canoes or kayaks right on site for $25 at the park’s entry station.

Distance: Trail is a 1.3-mile loop

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (spring/summer) and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (winter/fall)

Amenities: Dogs allowed, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, horse back riding, etc.

Trail mix: Cool off by stopping at the RaceTrac station off of State Route 60 after you finish up at the park.


Lettuce Lake Regional Park Loop

Visitors who wish to walk around the Lettuce Lake Regional Park Loop can follow the path for 1.2 miles. The loop has multiple entrances and amenities along the way. [ Mari Faiello ]

I absolutely loved hiking this trail. The park is full of shade and nice amenities along the paved 1.2-mile loop. There are water fountains and even some doggy fountains along the paved path. You can take your dog along for the ride (like I did) or bring your bike, skateboard or roller blades. You can walk along the boardwalk, too. Park at any of the lots within the park, and you can find an entrance to the trail. And don’t forget your $2 (in cash) for the park fee. Students attending USF or Florida College should bookmark this place, since it’s close to both campuses.

Read more  10 Scenic Nature Parks for Hiking in Tampa Bay

Distance: Trail is 1.2 miles

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (spring/summer), 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (fall/winter)

Amenities: Dogs allowed, bathrooms and water fountains along trail, roller blading, skateboarding and biking

Trail mix: Grab a Frappuccino from Starbucks or Coolatta from Dunkin’ to celebrate your trek.

Rowlett Park Loop

Rowlett Park Loop offers visitors a paved 1.5-mile walkway around the park itself with plenty of shade. [ Mari Faiello ]

The Rowlett Park Loop is a cute park with a paved 1.5-mile loop going around the main concourse. There’s plenty of parking and lots of open picnic tables. Bring along your hammock, and you can read a book under the trees, too. Dogs are allowed on leashes, and there’s a jungle gym for the kids. You can also see the Hillsborough River while hiking along a part of the trail.

Distance: Trail is 1.5 miles

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Dogs allowed, bathrooms and water fountains, roller blading, biking, canoe launch

Trail mix: Grab a sub from Wawa off of East Fowler Avenue and North 30th Street on your way to/from the park.


Taylor Lake Trail

The 1.6-mile trail at Taylor Lake offers plenty of views for hikers in Largo. [ Rebecca Torrence ]

While Taylor Lake only has one trail, the views make up for it. The trail, just a little over a mile and a half long, circles the lake, putting you in close proximity to beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife. I got up close and personal with some egrets, white ibises and moorhens, and while I didn’t see any alligators, there are a dozen signs reminding you of their presence. This is a relatively short and easy trail with level ground, perfect for bikers, runners and walkers. It’s even wheelchair accessible.

Distance: The trail is 1.6 miles long.

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. until sunset. Restrooms are open Saturday and Sunday only

Amenities: Picnic tables, three playgrounds, multiple parking lots around the trail, fishing, baseball field, frisbee golf course

Trail mix: Grab pizza afterwards at Your Pizza Shop across the street on 8th Ave SW. You’ve earned it.

Eagle Lake Park

The 3-mile trail at Eagle Lake Park offers hikers a chance to choose between several loops and walk up to 5 miles without repeating any paths. [ Rebecca Torrence ]

Wheelchair accessible and bike-friendly, this is a “choose your own adventure” trail. While the main paved trail is 3 miles around, you can pick and choose between several loops and walk up to 5 miles without repeating any sections. If you don’t have an internal GPS, make sure you bring your phone, because you could easily get lost combining trails. I wandered off a few times and had to retrace my steps, as some of the smaller man-made trails don’t have markings. The trails are generally wide but densely wooded, and the lakes are a bit muggy right now, so bring bug spray.

Distance: 3 miles paved with some short trail segments branching out

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. until sunset.

Amenities: Dog park, lots of parking, restrooms, grills, vending machines, fishing and a roasted corn stand

Trail mix: Largo Central Park and its public library are less than two miles southwest.

St. Petersburg

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

The Sand Scrub Trail at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve gives hikers a chance to see gopher turtles, chuck-will's-widows and various plants up close. [ Kyle Wood ]

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s trails are open for business — contrary to what Apple Maps may say — though its nature center and programs have been suspend because of the coronavirus. Admission is free for the time being; the preserve usually charges admission of $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 3-16 (children younger than 3 are admitted free). The main trail spans 3.1 miles. Several trails snake off it, and signs are posted throughout, but you can keep track of your 5K progress with conveniently posted signs as you work your way out to the edge of Lake Maggiore and back through different ecosystems, including sand scrub, swamp and pine flatwoods. Most trails are accessible for people with disabilities, and bike riding on the trails — none of which are paved — is permitted. Pets are not allowed.

Distance: Trail is 3.1 miles all the way around

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (trails close at 6:30 p.m.)

Amenities: Birds of prey enclosure for permanently injured, non-releasable birds, including a bald eagle, hawks and a vulture, playground

Trail mix: Pick up snacks at the nearby CVS Pharmacy or make a day of it and pick up subs at a Publix off I-275.

Carillon Park Nature Preserve

Meander around the Carillon Walking Path and you might see an alligator or two along the boardwalk. [ Courtesy of Traci Johnson ]

The Carillon Park loop is truly a hidden treasure nestled behind hotels and businesses off of Ulmerton Road. The boardwalk loop circles the lake. Walking around, it’s likely you’ll see lots of birds, alligators, turtles and more. The walk is short if you’re on a tight schedule or just want to get out and move for a little bit. There weren’t any signs posted about dogs, but I would make sure your animal is on a leash if you choose to bring it. Remember to use the restroom at home before you head out, too.

Distance: Loop is about 0.75 miles.

Hours: Daily

Amenities: None

Trail mix: Grab a Pub Sub from the nearby Publix or a “You Pick Two” at Panera Bread to cool down after your walk.

North Bay Trail

The North Bay Trail runs right along the St. Pete Pier up to the Rio Vista Park. Bring your hammock and a good book and park yourself under the shade of some palm trees to make a relaxing afternoon out of it. [ Mari Faiello ]

While somewhat popular with locals, the North Bay Trail offers a good glimpse of the St. Pete life for visitors and Tampa residents. The trail starts by the new St. Pete Pier and goes all the way up to Rio Vista Park. While the path itself was enjoyable, I was disappointed with the lack of upkeep (there were dead fish leftnover from fishing adventures on the grass bank) and little to no shade. However, the view of the water and the parks around made it enjoyable. If you decide to go for a good chunk of time, use the ParkMobile app (when available) so you don’t have to cut your visit short. You can also bring a hammock to swing in under some palm trees while enjoying a nice book if you have some time to kill and want to enjoy some Florida sunshine.

Distance: Trail is 11.9 miles

Hours: Daily

Amenities: Restrooms, dog-friendly (on leash), public parks

Trail mix: Check out the new St. Pete Pier and grab a bite to eat (and maybe an adult drink) while you’re there.

Sawgrass Lake Park Trail

Don't miss the lookout tower along the Sawgrass Lake Trail if you need to take a break or just want to enjoy some nice Florida views in St. Petersburg. [ Kyle Wood ]

The trails at Sawgrass Lake Park cater to walkers and hikers of varying degrees. The park offers the Sawgrass Trail, which takes you on a raised wooden path to a lookout tower of Sawgrass Lake. You can’t fish from the structure, but it offers much-needed shade and benches to rest on. Other trails snake on raised, wooden structures, dirt paths, paved areas and sparse pine needles. There’s a scenic path on the east side of the park that is a hair too close to the bustling traffic of I-275, but it’s shaded and more open than some of the other areas. Bikes, vehicles and dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk, and patrons are constantly advised by posted signs to stay clear of alligators.

Distance: 1.8 miles all the way around

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to sunset (trails close at 8 p.m.)

Amenities: Restrooms, water fountains, picnic tables, environmental education center

Trail mix: Options are plentiful at the nearby Shoppes at Park Place across US-19, including a Starbucks and Chipotle and a Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s across the street.

Weedon Island Preserve Trail

Two men fish off a boardwalk at Weedon Island Preserve. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Weedon Island Preserve is a great spot for a short walk, escaping into the sounds of nature, right in the middle of everything. Located about 20 minutes from both downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Tampa, just at the base of the Gandy Boulevard bridge in St. Pete, it’s easy to get to. None of the trails are challenging — they’re flat, well-cleared and a couple of miles or less. The trails cross from sunny to shaded, so be prepared for both. The preserve offers an observation tower and platform, each on different trails, as well as a lookout point, with a picturesque tunnel through the trees to the water. There are picnic tables scattered throughout (carry your trash out!) and also a Cultural and Natural History Center with bathrooms, but the hours are limited. The downside is that the trails are not especially well-marked. You’re not going to get lost forever, but grab a map to reference at the forks.

Distance: The longest loop is 4.3 miles, but there are plenty of opportunities to cut it shorter.

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 15 minutes before sunset

Amenities: Restrooms and water available at the Cultural and Natural History Center, which has different hours (Thursday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). No pets.

Trail mix: Grab a Pub Sub to enjoy at the picnic tables from the Publix at Gateway Market Center.

North Tampa

Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve

One of multiple trails offered at the Brooker Creek Nature Preserve. [ Mari Faiello ]

I liked the remoteness and options that came with Brooker Creek. There are multiple connections to hike the paths available, but the one off Ramblewood Road has very limited parking (two regular spaces and one handicapped spot). Park on the grass along Ramblewood at your own risk if you choose this entrance. There’s a good bit of standing water, so bring your bug spray. The tree canopy spread throughout, provides some nice shade for your hike, but you should bring a hat for the sun. Make sure you use the restroom beforehand — or risk choosing the wrong leaf as toilet paper. The picnic table is also closed, and there’s a sign posted recommending hikers practice social distancing while on the trail. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of at one of the newspaper boxes on your way in (or out) of the preserve.

Distance: 4.3 mile-loop

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Amenities: No restrooms or water, limited shade, no dogs on parts of trail

Trail mix: Stock up with water and snacks at the Winn-Dixie off of Van Dyke Road and celebrate your hike at the Dunkin’ Donuts next door afterward.

New Port Richey

Starkey Wilderness Park Loop

One of the unpaved nature trails near Parking Lot 2 at Starkey Wilderness Park. [ Mari Faiello ]

If you’re looking for a place with a lot of options, hit up Starkey Wilderness Park Loop. I was amazed at the variety of trails and amenities available to park-goers, including a paved bike trail (which connects to the Suncoast Trail). There’s also an abundance of picnic tables — which allows for easy social distancing — so, take some lunch, too. On the trails, I would recommend you take a buddy (especially if you’re a novice) and wear leggings/long pants if possible to avoid the brush, since the paths are pretty narrow. Closed-toe shoes are also best for most of the dirt paths. Watch your step for snakes and bunnies. If you’re lucky, you’ll see deer.

Distance: Trails range from 1.1 miles to 14.8 miles and one paved 7.5-mile trail

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Amenities: Restrooms, picnic tables, dogs allowed on 6-foot leash, fire pits, plenty of parking, multiple trails, paved bike path

Trail mix: Stop by the Circle K on the corner of Starkey Boulevard to stock up on drinks and snacks. You won’t be able to get any on the trails.


Upper Hillsborough Trail

The Upper Hillsborough Trail offers hikers plenty of terrain to explore with a 9.2-mile hike. Visitors should look out for white diamonds on the trees to stay on the right path. [ Mari Faiello ]

Get your hiking shoes ready for the Upper Hillsborough Trail. Parking isn’t the best (only five car spaces available at this entrance) but there were plenty of trail options along the route. Like some of the others in the area, this trail uses the small white diamonds to designate the paths hikers should follow. If you don’t see those, stick to the white shell/gravel roadway, and you’ll be set. Hikers, bikers and horse riders are welcome along the trail.

Distance: Trails go up to 9.2 miles

Hours: Daily

Amenities: None

Trail Mix: None

— Update: 17-03-2023 — found an additional article 10 Scenic Nature Parks for Hiking in Tampa Bay from the website for the keyword best hikes near tampa.

Best hikes near tampa
Hillsborough River State Park / Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

If you’re a Tampa resident in need of a nature reset, there are many scenic nature trails that are fantastic for hiking in Tampa Bay.

Bay area hiking trails offer paths near the water, trails that are mostly shaded, urban trails, and pretty much every kind of nature trail for every kind of hiker. With great weather and mostly flat land, most nature trails near Tampa are great for beginners and the difficulty level will lie in the distance you choose to hike since there aren’t significant elevation changes.

There is also an abundance of outdoor activities in Tampa to enjoy, especially if you’re looking for things to do during Superbowl LV in Tampa in 2021.

I will help you hit the trails with these top 10 nature trails for hiking in Tampa Bay.

1.Hillsborough River State Park

Best hikes near tampa
Rapids at Hillsborough River State Park/ Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Where: Hillsborough River State Park is located in Thonotassasa in the eastern part of the county. This park has some of the best Florida hiking trails for beginners.

What’s to love: This state park has a trail that takes you to the scenic overlook of the only Class II rapids in the state of Florida. There are also a number of suspension footbridges. The paths are dirt or boardwalk on the rapids trail. This park is also popular for fishing and canoeing.

2. Eureka Springs

Best hikes near tampa

Where: Eureka Springs is a county park near the Tampa Executive Airport in East Tampa.

What’s to love: This park is actually a botanical garden year-round! The flowers are gorgeous and worth the trip. The trail is paved in parts through the garden and a boardwalk for the nature trail. Don’t miss seeing the bat flower and the orchid greenhouse. There’s also a covered bridge!

Best hikes near tampa
Bat Flower / Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

3. Lettuce Lake Park

Best hikes near tampa

Where: Lettuce Lake Park is a nature park great for hiking in Tampa located in Temple Terrace just down the street from the University of South Florida.

What’s to love: The trails are boardwalks through Florida swamp surrounded by towering cypress trees and serene views of the lake. This park is a prime location to see turtles and alligators during your hike. There is also a place to rent and launch kayaks.

4. Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park

Best hikes near tampa

Where: Venture to to the Eastern most part of the county to Plant City to experience one of my favorite nature trails in Tampa Bay.

What’s to love: Alderman’s Ford Conservation is a mix of paved paths and boardwalks and meanders along the Alafia River. There are beautiful shaded portions of the trail and foot bridges. There are also other hiking trails that will take you into the forest.

Click here for a special rate on renting kayaks and SUPs.

5. Alafia River State Park

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Where: Head to Lithia in the southeast part of the county to explore this Tampa nature park.

What’s to love: What I loved about Alafia was the natural beauty and serenity. The trails take you past meadows and and into shaded pine forests. Be advised that especially on weekends this park sees heave usage from mountain bike riders. The park is very popular for it’s mountain bike trails.

6. Upper Tampa Bay Park

Best hikes near tampa

Where: To experience this Tampa hiking trail, head to the western most part of the county to Oldsmar.

What’s to love: Upper Tampa Bay is a regional park located on the bay with multiple trails, a boardwalk on the water, and a kayak launch where you can paddle a mangrove trail. The hiking trails are well maintained dirt trails providing peaceful ambience to really be one with nature.

Don’t skip the eagle trail. It’s an easy in and out trail that will reward you with an amazing surprise view at the end.

7. Upper Tampa Bay Trail

Best hikes near tampa

Where: The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is located in residential northwest Hillsborough County. Currently, the trail runs along the west shore of Channel A from a trailhead off Memorial Highway/Montague Street, past Waters Avenue, Linebaugh, and then due north to Gunn Highway, Ehrlich Road and ending at Peterson Road Park.

The trail continues north from Van Dyke Road north and then east to the trailhead on Lutz Lake Fern Road, connecting to the Suncoast Trail at the Veterans Expressway.

What’s to love: The paved trail makes it great for bike riding and the residential proximity makes it very accessible and easy to get to from multiple trailhead entries.

Check out my favorite things to do on the Tampa Riverwalk!

8. Trout Creek Park

Best hikes near tampa

Where: New Tampa/ Thonotosassa just east of I-75 and down the road from USF on Morris Bridge

What’s to love: Trout Creek Park is a hidden gem. There is a boardwalk trail with relaxing views of the Hillsborough River. There are also shaded nature trails that will really have you feeling like you have escaped the city life.

9. Edward Medard

Where: Regional park in Plant City

What’s to love: Edward Medard has nature trails, a boardwalk, and a lake perfect for alligator spotting. There’s also a natural jungle gym made of exposed tree roots.

10. Little Manatee River State Park

Best hikes near tampa
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Where: Southern most part of Hillsborough county and equal distance from Tampa and St. Petersburg

What’s to love: Little Manatee River State Park is unique because it offers equestrian trails and equestrian camping. There are also shaded hiking trails along the river and kayaking and canoeing on little manatee river.

Tampa is known for many great things to do like the Tampa Riverwalk and Hyde Park, but if you want to get away from the noise and take in the quiet and serenity of nature, these Florida hiking trails in the Tampa Bay area will give you the outdoor fix you crave.

Research each of these specific parks for current guidelines, limitations, and/or closures and fees.

Get prepared for your day hike with these essential day hike tips!


Best hikes near tampa
Best hikes near tampa

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About the Author: Tung Chi