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, with an outfitter located near the US 301 bridge.
A spacious campground and meandering nature trails offer gentle destinations for family fun.
Resources for exploring the area
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Fees: $4-5 per vehicle
Land Manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM until sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome.
From Interstate 75 south of Tampa, take exit 240A, Sun City Center/Ruskin. Drive east on SR 674 through Sun City Center 3 miles to US 301. Head south on US 301, passing the Little Manatee River Trail trailhead after 2.7 miles and crossing the Little Manatee River after 3 miles. You’ll see the Canoe Outpost entrance on the right after you cross the bridge. Continue another couple of miles to the park entrance on the right. It’s a long drive back along the park road to the canoe launch / picnic area and campground.
About the Park
The hustle and bustle of horse trailers and folks in search of a put-in for kayaking is pretty busy on a weekend, not surprising given this park’s proximity to downtown Tampa and Brandon.
What’s particularly nice are the picnic pavilions within view of the river, and the campground within walking distance of the day use area.
Equestrians win, too, with over 12 miles of riding trails on the south side of the park, with four equestrian campsites along the way.
On the north shore, the Little Manatee River Trail has two loops – 3 miles and 6 miles – that introduce you to at least seven distinct Florida habitats along the way.
A couple of the miles of the trail trace the river’s passage. The primitive campsite is an easy walk for families trying out backpacking with youngsters.
There are also two short nature trails on the south shore of the river not far from the playground.
Canoe Outpost has its own separate entrance along US 301 right by the bridge over the Little Manatee River.
Stop in for canoe and kayak rentals and shuttles or to check into the funky selection of accommodations they have on site.
See our videos of the trails at this park
See our photos of Little Manatee River State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
An easy loop at Alderman’s Ford Park, the Nature Trail slips behind the nature center for a walk in under ancient trees along the river’s floodplain corridor
Alderman’s Ford Preserve offers a surprising treat for a Central Florida hike: whitewater, showcasing the Alafia River churning as it winds through a deeply eroded channel
One of the few saving graces of former phosphate mines is that they provide awesome air for mountain bikers in Florida, and Alafia River State Park is one of the rare places where you can launch on a Florida downhill.
Reserve a campsite Official Website