World Rivers Day is Perfect for Exploring Local Waterways
The fourth Sunday of September is World Rivers Day, a time to celebrate the wonders and importance of rivers to everyday life. From recreation to filtration, fishing to hydropower - rivers are essential. Hillsborough County Conservation & Environmental Lands Management has four properties that provide a peaceful river experience.
The site where James Alderman created his Alafia River crossing in the 1840s, Alderman's Ford Conservation Park offers a canoe and kayak launch to get you on the river. An adventurous day can be spent paddling from one conservation park, Alderman's Ford, to another, Lithia Springs. This is a scenic and popular 11.5-mile trip for moderate paddlers where you might see otters, alligators, and wading birds. The canoe launch is located at 9625 Canoe Launch Road.
Camping at Lithia Springs Conservation Park offers a unique experience where some of the campsites are right along the Alafia River. The park has a canoe and kayak launch for those with their own vessels. There's nothing like waking up next to the river, making a campfire breakfast, and paddling with family or friends.
Lettuce Lake Conservation Park offers canoe and kayak rentals on the Hillsborough river, giving paddlers access to amazing views of gorgeous cypress trees, migrating waterfowl, baby alligators, and other wildlife. Rentals are only $25 for four hours of paddling, making for a perfect escape not far from home.
Avid paddlers love John B. Sargeant Conservation Park for its access to the Hillsborough River State Canoe Trail downriver from the park that winds through a jungle of hardwood trees, lilies, and birds. Upstream from the park is the gorgeous hardwood swamp area known as Seventeen Runs.
Always check river conditions and the park's website before making your trek to avoid closures or hazards. Not all sites offer rentals. Be sure to plan ahead!
For more information on places to paddle to and from in Hillsborough County, check the guide on Canoeing and Kayaking.
If you prefer to enjoy the rivers from the banks or from a boardwalk with your line in the water, Check out some favorite places to fish.