An easy loop at Alderman’s Ford Park, a popular county park, the Lithia Nature Trail slips behind the nature center for a walk in deeply shaded woods. Along the river’s floodplain corridor, you are in hammocks where massive cypresses and oaks rise above clear sand-bottomed streams in eroded gullies.
Length: 0.3 mile
Fees: $2 entrance fee
Bug Factor: moderate to annoying
Park open 8-8. A paved bicycle path provides a connection to other parks along the Alfia River and leads to a boardwalk trail and numerous unmarked footpaths throughout the forest. The nature center, with children’s activities, is open 10-3 Sat-Sun. There are many picnic benches.
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 park entrance on right.
Starting off behind the nature center, cross the broad bridge over the willow-edged slough (watch for alligators!) and follow the footpath to the right to walk a gentle half-mile kid-friendly loop on a broad shellrock path through the palmettos and oaks. After it leads you beneath ancient trees in the hardwood forest, it returns back to the nature center.
All around the picnic area and along the paved path, you’ll find gray “Trail” signs that point out trailheads for unmarked paths that meander throughout the upland and floodplain forest habitats.
A paved pathway that makes a good bike trip connects this trailhead with the canoe launch trailhead south off CR 39, south of the Alafia River bridge. It was damaged by Hurricane Irma so not all portions have reopened yet.