Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve protects 16,000 acres of floodplain forests and uplands along the Hillsborough River.
Public lands buffer the river’s sinuous flow from the Green Swamp to the north edge of the Tampa metro.
With more than 60 miles of trails, the preserve is one of Tampa’s favorite places to get outdoors, particularly for cyclists exploring Wilderness Park and Flatwoods Park.
Resources for exploring the area
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Primary Trailhead: 28.148891, -82.278711
Address: 14302 Morris Bridge Rd, Thontosassa
Fees: $2 flat rate fee charged at most entrances. $50 individual, $100 family annual passes available online or by phone.
Restroom: At most trailheads
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Phone: 813-987-6240 (call 813-426-5583 for ranger assistance)
Trails open dawn to dusk. Leashed dogs permitted except where posted. Drones and other remote controlled vehicles are not permitted in the preserve.
User restrictions (including directional flow for cyclists) are posted on certain trails for safety’s sake.
Free permits required for primitive camping. Hunting is permitted in some parts of the preserve at different times of year. Check kiosks in advance or call ahead for dates.
About the Preserve
Originally established as the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area in the 1960s to prevent flooding in the city of Tampa, the preserve protects Tampa’s water supply.
As the largest natural area in the Tampa Bay region, Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve is also a destination for recreation. It can be accessed from seven different tracts.
Entrances are along Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Morris Bridge Rd, and US 301, providing access to hiking trails, paved bike paths, equestrian trails, and off-road bike trails.
Click on any icon to get directions and details on the recreation sites we’ve visited in Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, or select from the destinations listed below the map.
In addition to the 6.9 mile paved bike path loop at its core, Flatwoods Park at Lower Hillsborough Wilderness provides many different routes for outdoor exploration
At the scenic confluence of Flint Creek with the Hillsborough River, John B Sargeant Park provides access to the Hillsborough River State Canoe Trail amid a lush cypress floodplain, with a boardwalk and footpath showcasing the views.
While the gentle loop boardwalk at Morris Bridge Park is a major reason to stop and savor the Hillsborough River, the park also provides cyclists a trailhead to off-road adventure
A mosaic of cypress swamps, pine flatwoods, and sandhills, the Oak Ridge Tract of Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve offers an immersive day hike destination with many hiking options
See our photos from trails within Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
At the north edge of Tampa, Lettuce Lake Park protects 240 acres along the Hillsborough River, with a loop trail and boardwalk that shows off cypress swamps and uplands.
Water in motion: the Hillsborough rapids foam and froth over limestone boulders beneath grand cypress trees in Class II rapids. One of Florida’s oldest state parks, Hillsborough River State Park showcases this masterpiece of nature from an overlook and trail system built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Part of Hillsborough River State Park, Fort Foster State Historic Site takes you back to the era of Florida’s earliest pioneer settlers and their clashes with the native Seminoles.