Acquired by Hillsborough County in 1998, McIntosh Preserve was granted to Plant City for management as conservation area.
Portions of the property have undergone transformation to help filter large volumes of water flowing towards the Hillsborough River.
A network of crushed shell pathways leads through various habitats, home to natural plant communities and dozens of bird species.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Plant City
Length: 2.4 mile loop
Trailhead: 28.074377, -82.125100
Address: 775 Knights Griffin Rd, Plant City, FL 33565
Land manager: Plant City
Open Sunrise – Sunset. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
From Interstate 4 and Paul Buchman Hwy, head north on Paul Buchman Hwy for 2 miles, then turn right onto SR 39 N. In 0.9 mile, turn right onto Knights Griffin Rd. The entrance is located on the right in 0.9 miles, marked with a large sign.
Starting at the trailhead adjacent to an information kiosk with maps, follow a wide pathway as it turns towards a shaded canopy.
Blue blazed posts lead the way, winding through an assortment of pine and oak.
Clusters of pine saplings flank the trail as it opens to a wide clearing before taking a wide turn to the west.
Tall golden grasses sway in the breeze alongside wispy bunches of bright green dogfennel.
Benches offer resting spots alongside the path as it curves in the direction of a wooded area.
At the half-mile mark, a red-blazed post indicates an intersection with the blue trail. Turn right, beginning a counterclockwise loop on the red trail.
Stately oaks border the walkway with large, arching branches covered in Christmas lichens and air plants.
Saw palmettos dots the forest floor, accompanied by various shrubs covered in thick tangles of muscadine grapevines.
Two connector trails intersect the red-blazed Live Oak Loop.
The white and orange-blazed paths offer a variety of options, shortening the hike by connecting to the south end of the red loop.
Continue forward on the red trail. Huge southern magnolia trees reach high into the upper canopy, sporting large white flowers in the late spring.
Terrestrial orchids sprout along the path, preferring the same damp soils as magnolias and water oaks.
At 1.2 miles, turn right at an intersection of four trails, taking the green-blazed Loblolly Loop to the western edge of the property.
At the far end, a perfectly situated picnic table sits underneath a majestic live oak covered in Spanish moss.
Near the end of the green trail, a tall observation tower emerges from the surrounding forest.
This impressive structure offers two platforms with benches overlooking nearby wetlands, complete with electronic screens displaying information about the area.
From the tower, a 0.8-mile stroll along the blue trail leads back to the parking area.
A virtual walk in the woods at McIntosh Preserve
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Lower Green Swamp Preserve
Miles of mixed-use trail loops traverses riverine forests and pine savanna, offering views of vast wet prairies and cypress swamps.
Blackwater Creek Nature Preserve
A pair of loop trails provide access to wide-open pine flatwoods interspersed with a mosaic of prairie, cypress domes, oak hammocks, and a quiet spot alongside the namesake creek.
Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve
As the largest natural area in the Tampa Bay region, Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve is a major destination for recreation, with seven entrances across 16,000 acres
Florida Trail, Green Swamp West
Traversing scenic oak hammock, sandhills, and pine flatwood habitats, the southernmost six miles of the Florida Trail in Green Swamp West offers spectacular day hike and backpacking experiences.