With sandy shores around every bend and a canopy of trees overhead, Little Manatee River State Park provides a place for a pretty paddling trip for families, with an outfitter located near the US 301 bridge.
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Leashed pets welcome
My introduction to the park came as I searched for the park’s notable backpacking loop, which is located north of the river, apart from the main entrance. The hustle and bustle of horse trailers and folks in search of a put-in for kayaking was pretty busy on a weekend, not surprising given this park’s proximity to downtown Tampa and Brandon.
The Little Manatee Hiking Trail has two loops – 3 miles and 6 miles – that introduce you to at least seven distinct Florida habitats along the way, including a couple miles tracing the river’s passage. The primitive campsite is an easy walk for families trying out backpacking with youngsters.
Equestrians win, too, with over 12 miles of riding trails on the south side of the park, with four equestrian campsites along the way.
Explore the park
- Little Manatee River Hiking Trail - At Little Manatee River State Park, experience nearly a dozen different habitats along your choice of loops on one of Central Florida’s most interesting day hikes