One of the few saving graces of former phosphate mines is that they provide awesome air for mountain bikers in Florida.
Alafia River State Park is one of the rare places where you can launch on a Florida downhill. Once strip-mined, the terrain is largely reforested.
A tremendously twisty series of mountain bike trails attract riders from around the state and beyond, but hikers and equestrians can put in quiet miles well away from the bike crowd.
The park’s campground provides a quiet respite east of the Tampa metro, not far from the South Prong of the Alafia River.
Resources for exploring the area
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Address: 14326 South CR 39, Lithia
Fees: $4-5 per vehicle at main gate. North Trails free.
Restroom: Near the main parking area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome. Reserve campsites in advance.
Helmets are required for riding the trails in this park. Loaners are available at the ranger station.
From Interstate 75 exit 240 south of Riverview, follow SR 674 east to CR 39. Continue north to the park entrance.
About the Park
Over 42 miles of trails thread across this landscape above the Alafia River basin, with a world-class International Mountain Bike Association trail system a huge draw on weekends.
The radical terrain of reclaimed phosphate mines provided a backdrop for steep drops and curves for 22 miles of technical, challenging trails built and maintained by local bike enthusiasts.
You can ride on your own, join a guided ride with SWAMP, or go on an Adventure Race, but Alafia River is not a one-note park.
A bike shop on site provides rentals and repair services. While hiking is permitted on all of the trails, better to borrow a fat-tire bike than be run over by one on the IMBA trails.
Hikers can more safely explore the extensive North Trail System, shared with equestrians.
Follow our suggested route or strike out on your own with a trail map to find connections to neighboring natural lands.
The perimeter of the North Trail System has recently been blazed red to make it easier to follow, since navigation is otherwise between numbered markers.
Paddlers have access to the South Prong of the Alafia River, navigable from the main part of the park upstream.
The quiet campground at Alafia River State Park provides a mellow getaway along a pine-lined lake for car and trailer campers.
Don’t own a tent or camper? Glamping is now available in furnished tents with real beds, kitchen station, solar power, water, and more.
Hiking the North Trails
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
An easy-going 2.8-mile loop trail explores the south tract of Fishhawk Creek Preserve providing a glimpse of a few natural and endangered Florida habitats.
Tying together adjacent Triple Creek and Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve, this nearly 5-mile hike loops through restored upland habitats.
An island of high ground in the Alafia River basin, Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve protects more than 400 acres of Florida scrub habitat south of Riverview