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Shady trail

Which Hillsborough County Trails Have Lots of Shade?

Outdoor enthusiasts can take cover under trees as temperatures climb

Beat the heat during summer outings by visiting one of several Hillsborough County nature preserves that offer natural shade among hammocks and canopies. Of course, it's always a good idea to bring your own shade in the way of a hat, and dress for the weather. Carry plenty of water and sunscreen.

Here are a few cooler places where you can hit the trail.

Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve - North is more than 4,000 acres encompassing lands along the Alafia River.
The site is home to the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, and American alligator, which are all listed as either threatened or endangered. Hike the red trail, where palmettos provide shade through a wetland/swampy area, and then transition to uplands where oaks and pines shade the trail.

Alafia Scrub Nature Preserve is 80-acres with diverse habitats that include hammock, scrub, creeks, ravines, shoreline, and tidal marsh. Marked hiking trails include a 0.8-mile loop and a 1.3-mile loop. A tree canopy keeps you covered the whole way with oaks, and some pines, cabbage palms, and bay trees also in the mix. A scenic overlook on the Alafia River is a half-mile from the trailhead.

Cypress Creek Nature Preserve encompasses 2,500 acres and is part of a vast wildlife corridor that extends into Pasco and Polk counties. Cypress Creek drains into the Hillsborough River, providing important water quality benefits to the region. Natural habitats within the preserve include hardwood forests and swamps, pine flatwoods, wet prairies, cypress stands, and freshwater marshes. Oaks and pines will keep hikers covered along the blue trail.

Triple Creek Nature Preserve located in south Hillsborough County, includes 969-acres that provide a critical link between existing preserved Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program lands, and is part of a contiguous wildlife corridor made up of a creek system, hardwood wetlands, and upland habitats. A variety of trees shade the red trail.

Violet Cury Nature Preserve is a 160-acre sanctuary with natural habitats such as pine flatwoods, sandhills, marshes, an oak hammock, and Lake Flynn, a freshwater lake, all of which are unique in the community. The 2.25-mile hiking trail is an excellent non-strenuous hike. Mature oaks provide ample shade for trails at this site.

Camp Bayou Nature Preserve & Outdoor Learning Center is a 160-acre nature preserve managed by Hillsborough County. The Nature Center, classrooms, and Paleo Preserve museum are run entirely by volunteers. A canopy of sand pines and oak trees shades the red and yellow trails.

Alderman's Ford Nature Preserve is 985 acres that serves as a portion of the South Hillsborough Wildlife Corridor. It provides a connection between other publicly owned lands along the Alafia River. The yellow trail is oak-lined and well shaded by palmettos and oak hammock.

To read more about Hillsborough County conservation parks and preserves, subscribe to the Trailblazer Newsletter.

Photo: Trails under tree canopies like this one are found at several Hillsborough County nature preserves.

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