Along with neighboring Rhodine and Balm Boyette Scrub Preserves, Triple Creek Nature Preserve helps maintain a wildlife corridor through heavy residential development.
Protecting almost 1,000 acres of land in Riverview, the property was previously used for agriculture.
While some features of this land use remain, extensive habitat restoration projects are underway to return the land to its most natural state.
Resources for exploring the area
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Length: 4.9 Mile Loop
Trailhead: 27.795449, -82.245120
Address: 13305 Balm Boyette Rd, Riverview
Land manager: Hillsborough County
Open sunrise to sunset.
From Interstate 75, turn onto Gibsonton Rd heading east. In one mile, the road becomes Boyette Rd. Turn right after 0.8 mile onto Balm Riverview Rd. In 3.4 miles, turn left onto Rhodine Rd, for one mile, turning right onto Boyette Rd. Entering the traffic circle, take the first right onto Balm Boyette Rd, and the entrance will be on the right in 1.7 miles.
Passing through the gate at a spacious trailhead parking lot, take note of the information kiosk displaying important information, and a map of the property.
Head west along a grassy access road following red blazes past a patch of longleaf pine saplings.
Passing through a short passageway of tree canopy, the trail reaches the first loop in a tenth of a mile.
Turn right at this sandy intersection and head north for a short jog, staying on the path lined with red-topped posts.
A variety of wildflowers sprout from the grasses alongside the trail.
Vibrant yellow pine barren frostweeds grow in bushels next to blackberry brambles covered with stark white flowers in the springtime.
Approaching a dense hammock of Spanish moss-covered live oaks, the road begins a decent into a lush, shady mixed hardwood swamp.
A slow-moving blackwater creek flows under the road, sheltered by abundant sweetgum and water oak trees.
Emerging from the forest in a quarter mile, a large informational sign stands in front of an expansive field.
As indicated by the sign, the area was slash pine plantation that has been removed to provide space for a longleaf pine restoration project.
Follow the red-topped trail markers in a straight line westward.
As you cross the wide-open landscape of golden grasses and palmetto clusters, longleaf pines slowly increase in number.
Blueberries sprout from the sandy soils alongside netted pawpaw with creamy white petals drooping from short branches.
In a half mile, the trail takes a sharp turn to the left as it reaches the property line.
Newly constructed homes right across the fence directly underscore the importance of these conservation lands.
As the trail delves back into the woods, blazes move from posts to trees. Where the road becomes submerged in a couple of spots, small footbridges allow for dry feet.
After leaving the fence line, continue for a half mile through shaded mixed forest to a junction with the yellow loop.
Turning left here, the red blazes can be followed for a mile back to the parking area, completing the loop through Triple Creek Nature Preserve.
Turn right to begin a 2.1-mile loop through Balm Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve.
In contrast to the red loop, the yellow loop is mostly unshaded, so be sure to have proper sun protection and hydration before proceeding in this direction.
The change in habitats is immediately evident as the forest road transitions to exposed sugar sand.
Sand pines and scrub oaks are the prominent trees in this desert-like xeric landscape.
Saw palmettos continue to border the trail, a testament to the ability of this species to thrive in a variety of ecosystems.
For the first half mile, follow the trail along a perimeter with dense forest before it turns east to cross the scrub.
Despite being a harsh environment, oak scrub habitat is surprisingly biodiverse.
Various sage-green lichens carpet the bleached white sand in clusters while Florida rosemary rises in sporadic tufts.
In 0.8 mile, the path reaches the other side, once again bordering less of a desert environment and offering a taller canopy.
A blanket of pine needles begins to cover the bare sand, then grass once again covers the road as live oak branches extend overhead, providing shade.
Where the yellow blazes end at mile four, take a right to resume the red trail into the damper Triple Creek Preserve.
The pathway quickly narrows while sloping gently into a dense hardwood hammock. In a quarter mile, the trail crosses a seasonally wet crossing over a creek.
Passing a stout cabbage palm on the edge of the forest, the trail weaves through lines of trees and open pasture for a quarter mile before completing the red loop.
Turn right to follow the remaining trail for a tenth of a mile back to the trailhead.
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve
Protecting uplands immediately east of Tampa Bay, Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve immerses hikers within oak scrub habitat along a sandy loop trail.
Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve
An island of high ground in the Alafia River basin, Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve protects more than 400 acres of Florida scrub habitat south of Riverview
Fishhawk Creek Preserve North
Hike rolling sandhills and rugged terrain sloping towards scenic views of the Alafia River and Little Fishhawk Creek near Lithia Springs.
Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park
Straddling the confluence of the North and South Prong of the Alafia River, Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park provides immersion into lush riverine forests.