Just minutes from downtown Tampa, this Hillsborough River State Park Camping offers a refuge from city life with its seven miles of nature trails and ample places to cool off in the water.
Except for occasional reenactments, the cannon and guns are now silent at Fort Foster. No longer do Seminole Indians have to fight to keep a foothold in Florida, and soldiers no longer guard a strategic river crossing. The reconstructed fort and its surroundings are now part of Hillsborough River State Park.
Besides a living history lesson, visitors can kayak or canoe class II river rapids, rare in Florida, hike seven miles of nature trails and swim in an ADA accessible swimming pool.
Tucked away, only a short distance from the bustling city of Tampa, camping is a popular activity at Hillsborough River State Park.
This is a beautiful park close to the Tampa area. The campsites are separated into 2 areas. Most are small and open. On our visit, there were NO friendly people here. Some good hikes in the park. There are a few places to launch kayaks and I went from campground up to rapids and back down. Good paddle, lots of birds. Roads are paved in park and its a big circle so great for bike riding. There are large day use areas and a beautiful huge pool. Concessions were closed not sure if seasonal or covid? There is a neat suspension bridge and class 2 rapids along hike. Also a CCC museum (closed). Don't arrive before check in time because you have to wait in day use area until "it's time" for you to check in. Great park but not a great vibe.
Tent camped at a site in loop one. Weather was nice, though we were warned it can get a bit muddy when it rains. Crowds were a bit higher on the trails during Saturday afternoon but Sunday morning was much more quiet and we saw lots of wildlife.
We needed a campsite near Tampa FL for a few days to meet friends visiting the area from up north. Being a Floridian, we’ve experienced FL’s state parks and found them to offer privacy between sites. We weren’t disappointed with Hillsboro River State Park. Weather was cool in February that allowed for comfortable hiking and biking. Good Verizon signal to allow for plenty of streaming.
There are normal drive in sites and primitive hike-in sites.
Hiked in the mile or so to the primitive sites -- pack everything you need in. HELLA skeeters in the woods, bring high DEET spray. We went after it had rained and about a quarter of the trail was basically a mudpit. We were the only ones out there, which was great!
Canoe or kayak down the river is a must do! Gators, turtles, lots of birds and all downstream so pretty lowkey paddle.
We are boondockers so we tend to stay away from very peoplely places.. and this is a bit peoply. That said it was very comfortable everything was clean and super convenient. There was 30 amp as well as 50 amp water there's a dump station clean bathrooms nice showers even dedicated dishwashing sinks and a washer and dryer. We definitely heard people talking but as it got dark which happens early this time of year things settle down pretty quickly and never had a problem at night. I would definitely go here again if we didn't have backwoods options.
Nice campsites, clean bathrooms, friendly campers.
The windshield placard they give you says dont hang things from the trees, however the parks website says its fine if you're hanging a hammock with 1" thick webbing, and its on a thick tree. I hung my hammock and have had no trouble.
Bring plenty of bugspray, the mosquitoes here are big enough to carry away a small dog.
Sites right on top of one another. Ppl nice, Beautiful river.
Everything about Hillsborough River State Park seemed easy. It was easy to get to from our home in Largo. Once onto the 275 and over the Howard Franklin Bridge, it was just a few miles on I-4 toward Orlando. Then exit 7 to Highway 301 north about 10 miles to the campground. The way in which the state park and campground are set up is easy too. The main road is one big loop out and back from the Ranger Station. Located on this road is the main part of the park(the Hillsborough River and the 3 main hiking trails). The 3 campground loops are located just a little further along the main road.
As we always do, we rode our bikes around both loops scouting out campsites for the next time we come. Nearly every site has ample shade. This is a mature campground, and trees surround each campsite. Our site,#8, had a perfect canopy of trees above us keeping us cool for our entire stay.
If we gave out an award for ‘The Friendliest Campers’, Hillsborough River State Park Campground would win. Many of the people we met had camped there many times. Some had driven across the state from the east coast to camp at Hillsborough. Some had been camping there for a week or more and switched campsites to be able to stay there longer. A couple that camped behind us come here every year. People went out of their way to greet and talk to you. Some came to our site to introduce themselves and say hello. When we walked around, we stopped and talked to people about the campers. We even got some tours of the inside of their RV.
To see our full review visit https://lifestyleover50.com/hillsborough-river-state-park-campground-review/
This park has so much to offer and comes through on most, but (you knew this was coming) it needs an infusion of money to update and upgrade the campground. We had to request a site change as the site we had reserved was under water when we arrived. Rangers were more than accommodating and in fairness to them a tropical storm had just made a pass of the state in the Gulf of Mexico. Also because of Covid the pool was closed. We did take a very cautious dip in the river but it’s Florida and gators are present. Bring a kayak, biking is limited, for us it was restricted to the park as we were uncomfortable with the county roads with no shoulder outside the park. Not much to see in nearest town Zephryhills but good for restocking the pantry and if you want it fast food.