Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve spans diverse ecosystems, from seasonally flooded wetlands to sandy prairie views in a classic example of Florida scrub landscape.
A system of wide trails winds through the conservation land, showcasing stands of longleaf pine and sand pine among oaks draped in epiphytes.
Accessed through the multi-use trails of adjoining Stephen J. Wortham Park, the trails of Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve are for hiking only.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 4 mile loop
Trailhead: 27.82408, -82.28782
Address: 12108 Rhodine Rd, Riverview FL 33579
Restrooms: One at the trailhead
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Open sunrise to sunset. Leashed pets permitted.
Equestrians share use of the Bluestem Hiking Trail inside Wortham Park, but have a separate entrance with horse trailer parking area at 12597 Sykes Rd, Riverview.
From Interstate 75, take exit 250 and head east on Gibsonton Dr for two miles. Turn right onto Balm Riverview Rd for another two and a half miles, then turn left onto Rhodine Rd. The entrance is half a mile down the road on the left.
Starting at the parking area within Stephen J. Wortham Park, head north on the Green Trail.
At the trail kiosk, there is a sign calling it the Bluestem Hiking Trail, a 1.4 mile loop blazed green.
It is paved for a short walk to a large wooden bridge. The bridge can be very slippery and may require use of the handrails.
On the opposite side of the bridge, the trail is grassy and wide. A sign nearby advises caution, as this is a multi-use trail used by horses as well.
A little under a quarter of a mile into the hike, the Bluestem Trail starts a loop. Stay to the right and continue northward.
The trail remains wide, bordered by pines and palmettos for another tenth of a mile until it meets the Red Trail.
The Red Trail is marked with a post with an arrow indicating a right turn. Horses are not allowed into this part of the trail system.
Head down the Red Trail toward the entrance to Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve.
The trail can be muddy. It narrows just before a small bridge over a creek named Pelleham Branch. A sign for the preserve can be seen when crossing the bridge.
Aside from being a wide established trail, blazes are painted regularly on trees and posts. Branches from large oaks hang overhead, covered in Spanish moss.
At 0.9 miles, turn right to start a counterclockwise perimeter loop of the preserve. You quickly meet a yellow blaze at a T with the Yellow Trail junction.
The Yellow Trail follows a sandy access road. Some parts at the beginning have the potential for flooding.
If having wet shoes is an issue, skip the Yellow Trail by making a left at the T at Marker 6 and continuing on the Red Trail for a short distance until it meets the Blue Trail.
Continue along the Blue Trail east to meet the other end of the Yellow Trail to rejoin the perimeter hike. This drier route knocks 0.6 mile off the hike.
The Yellow Trail is well blazed and dotted with a multitude of wildflowers. Young longleaf pines sprout alongside the trail beside prickly pear cacti.
The path meanders south for a bit, then loops back north toward the Blue Trail, meeting it after 1.9 miles.
At the Blue Trail junction, turn right and follow the blazes eastward. The ecosystem becomes drier, and sand pines are prominent.
A sandy road winds up and back towards the Red Trail, gradually opening to a small prairie with a pond in the middle.
A red blazed post at 2.9 miles indicates the end of the loop, and a route back to the beginning. The path becomes wooded again, bordered by oaks and more wildflowers.
Clusters of sand pines and palmettos sporadically appear until the red trail descends towards the creek once more.
Crossing the bridge over Pelleham Branch again at 3.5 miles, head west to the junction with the green blazes.
If you want to add another 0.8 mile of hiking with a loop around the county park, follow the green blazed Bluestem Hiking Trail straight ahead.
It loops down to the equestrian entrance and reconnects just a little south of this trail junction.
Otherwise, turn left to head back. You pass the second junction with the green blazes at 3.8 miles.
Continue across the bridge and along the paved path to the parking area to complete a 4 mile hike of Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve.
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