Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park sits at the confluence of waterways that make up the Alafia River.
It protects a landscape where an early Florida settler, James Alderman, created a ford across the river by cutting into its banks.
The location became popular in the early 1900s for picnics and rallies.
Towering cypresses, oaks, and pines are a park of the lush riverine habitats you can explore on the park’s trail system.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: Up to 7 miles in multiple loops
Trailhead: 27.86712, -82.13813
Address: 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr.
Fees: $2 per vehicle
Restroom: At both the main park and canoe launch trailhead
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Alderman’s Ford Park is open 8-7 in the spring and summer, 8-6 in the fall and winter. Leashed dogs welcome.
Extensive picnic grounds are within the main portion of the park off Alderman’s Ford Park Drive. Picnic shelters are available for rental.
From the corner of Lithia-Pinecrest Rd and CR 39 (12 miles south of Plant City), drive north 1.5 miles on CR 39 to the park entrance on right.
A network of trails fans out from the central paved loop in this park that extends from the main entrance to the Canoe Launch entrance a couple miles south along CR 39.
The following route is one of many you can follow by stringing footpaths and boardwalks together off the main paved loop.
Alderman’s Ford Nature Trail
Access to this half mile hike starts from the parking area at the north end of the park.
Walk the pathway to the nature center to cross the broad bridge over the willow-edged slough.
This waterway is a good spot to watch for alligators and turtles on logs. A quarter mile loop starts on the opposite side of the bridge.
Turn right to join the broad shellrock path. It winds beneath tall oaks and thickets of cabbage palms.
After it leads beneath a cluster of ancient oaks in this hardwood forest in the Alafia River basin, it loops back around to meet the bridge.
Return across the bridge to the nature center. It is open on weekends and a great place to take the kids, in tandem with this easy walk.
The North and South Prongs of the Alafia River meet within the heart of the park, with a 0.4 mile boardwalk carrying you along the confluence for scenic views.
This boardwalk is accessed by the paved trail. Via the picnic grounds, it is a 1-mile round-trip hike.
Alafia River Corridor Preserve North
Immediately north of Alderman’s Ford Park is another trailhead accessed via a ballfield complex.
The kiosk marks the start of a trail network in Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve North, which includes a backpacker’s campsite.
See our photos from Aldermans Ford Park
A virtual walk in the woods at Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Looping through a former phosphate mine north of the Alafia River, this hike showcases the resilience of nature as the forest reclaims the land.
Meandering over hilly terrain past numerous scenic overlooks, the Singing Bluffs Trail at Edward Medard Conservation Park provides great birding among documented nesting bird colonies.
Hike rolling sandhills and rugged terrain sloping towards scenic views of the Alafia River and Little Fishhawk Creek near Lithia Springs.