County Keeps Pace with Horseback Riders
Karen Turbeville knows horses.
She rides her Tennessee walking horse about five times a week, and is active in the local equestrian community, speaking with fellow horse enthusiasts and promoting their interests.
One of her favorite places to ride is the Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve, 12,200 acres north of Plant City that are part of the Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP). It's one of six Hillsborough County Conservation Parks and Nature Preserves that has trails, parking, and amenities for horseback riding.Find Horse Riding Trails
"I think it's absolutely wonderful that this is available," Turbeville says. "I would compare it to a state park," even though the Lower Green Swamp is intended as a preserve with diverse habitats, abundant wildlife, and limited visitor access to protect nature.
At least 440,000 Floridians are horse owners, service providers, or otherwise involved in equestrian activities. Many of them live in Hillsborough County. More than 100 miles of County trails, scattered throughout rural Hillsborough, provide places to ride.
Conservation & Environmental Lands Management oversees the six locations. Horseback riding fits nicely with the goal to spare these endangered natural lands. Horses have limited effects on the properties. Most riders detest litter, and are quick to volunteer for clean-up and trail-marking duties.
Trails are well maintained and provide good footing. Scenery varies. At Lower Green Swamp, for example, there's woods, pasture, a creek, and lots of wildlife. Astride her horse, Turbeville has seen deer, German fox squirrels, gopher tortoises, and lots of birds - even a bald eagle.
She says the nature preserve is well marked, and has amenities for horseback riders such as mounting blocks, hitching posts, locking gates, picnic tables, and a well-designed parking area. "We always have a good time out there," she says.