Except for occasional reenactments, the cannon and guns are now silent at Fort Foster. No longer do Seminole Indians have to fight to keep a foothold in Florida, and soldiers no longer guard a strategic river crossing. The reconstructed fort and its surroundings are now part of Hillsborough River State Park. And besides a living history lesson, visitors can kayak or canoe class II river rapids, rare in Florida, hike seven miles of nature trails and swim in an ADA accessible swimming pool.
All types of camping are also available only a short distance from Tampa.
Bicyclists are invited to ride on the 1.6 mile, Wetlands Restoration Nature Trail, as well as the 2.2 mile, Park Loop. Helmets are highly recommended for all cyclists and Florida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under. Bicycles are available to rent from the park's concession.
Hillsborough River State Park offers RV and tent camping with electric on most of the campsites in this 112 site campground. Each site is equipped with water, a fire ring and picnic table. Each loop has restrooms with hot showers and laundry facilities. The campground offers a dump station for your convenience. Pets are welcome, but must be confined, leashed (up to six feet in length), or otherwise under the physical control at all times.
Picnic areas, pavilions, several playgrounds, the Pool Side Café and Gift Shop, and an ADA-accessible, half-acre swimming pool, are located within the park. Many trails offer visitors the opportunity to experience the park's natural beauty. A popular trail is the Rapids Nature Trail. It meanders through oak hammocks to the edge of the Hillsborough River at the point where an outcropping of limestone rocks has created rapids. This area is a popular spot for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers canoe rentals for visitor's convenience.
Maximum RV length = 50 ft.
Hammocks are allowed to be used in certain campsites. Sites 41, 61, 110, and 111, allow one (1) hammock each, while sites 68 and 70 allow two (2) hammocks each. Set-up requires the use of straps at least 2 inches wide on trees at least 12 inches in diameter.
Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through Reserve America. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), or TDD (888) 433-0287.
A primitive camp, located across the river is available via foot trail. Backpackers must check in and out at the ranger station before hiking 1.5 miles to the camping area. At least one person 18 years of age or older must accompany the party. Campers should pack in and pack out all necessities and remove all trash. A map of hiking trails and the primitive campsite are available at the park office.
Call the park at: (813) 987-6771, to make reservations. Call 24 hrs. prior to reservation to receive updated trail conditions.
Check-In: No later than 1 hour prior to sunset.
Hammocks are allowed to be used in the primitive camping area in sites C and D (2 hammocks each).
No pets are allowed at the primitive camp.
As a primitive camp, the sites have no electric, no water and no restrooms. It is advisable to bring 4 quarts of drinking water, per person, per day. Trails are subject to flooding and may cause the temporary closure of the primitive camp.
Camping, Primitive Group
Group primitive camping is available for organized youth or adult groups, defined as six or more persons affiliated with a recognized non-profit or community organization such as, Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, Sierra Club, or church groups. Priority is given to youth groups with over half its members under 18 years of age. The camp accommodates up to 60 people at one time. Fees are Youth: (up to 18 years of age) $1 per person, per night. Adult: $5 per person, per night. Four camping areas are set in a wooded area, offering shade as well as beauty. All four sites are shaded and have water, picnic tables, grills, a fire ring, and restrooms with cold showers. Organizations must be under the sponsorship of a recognized entity for a particular outing. Adult supervision is required. Pets are not allowed in this ecologically sensitive area. There is no electricity.
Reservations can be made for groups up to 60 days in advance. Adult groups may use this camp when it is not being used by a youth group. Call the park at: (813) 987-6771, to make reservations. A $22.40 deposit is required for all reservations and will be applied to the final balance.
Hammocks are allowed to be used in the Youth Camp area. Site "C" allows one (1) hammock, and sites "A", "B", and "D" allow two (2) hammocks, each.
PLEASE NOTE: No deposit refunds will be given within 14 days of reservation.
Canoeing is a popular activity in the park. Visitors may bring their own canoe or rent one at the park. All rentals are to be back prior to concession's closing hours. Hours for canoes rentals can be obtained by contacting the concession at 813-986-6772.
All rental equipment requires a governmental photo identification for deposit.
Canoe and kayak rental fees:
First two hours for $25 per canoe or kayak, plus tax
Additional hour $5, plus tax
Overnight rentals $90, plus tax
After concession closure, late vessels are charged $1 per minute, per vessel.
The park is a popular location for fishing the Hillsborough River. Fish that are commonly seen in the river include bass, bream and catfish. A fishing license may be required.
Geocaching is an outdoor game using hand-held global positioning systems (GPS) devices. It's effectively an inexpensive, interactive, high-tech treasure hunt that's a great way to learn geography. Participants use location coordinates to find caches. Some caches are easy to find; others are more difficult. The biggest reward is the thrill of the search and the discovery of a place where you have never been. Geocaching should have minimal impact to the environment and conscientious land use ethics should be followed.
Park closes at sundown. Please allow ample time to leave trails by sundown.
Visitors have four hiking trails to choose from, which total approximately 7.3 total miles. Along the Hillsborough River, the trails take hikers through a dense, hydric hammock forest and provide interpretive displays, changing elevations and a multitude of opportunities to view and photograph nature. The Wetlands Trail begins in a pine flatwoods community and continues to fork in the trail, offering visitors a choice to enjoy the Fort King Trail or continue on the Wetlands Trail. Another example of how Hillsborough River State Park is where “history and nature” come together! A trail map is available at the Ranger Station.
Due to increased rains in spring and summer, the park experiences seasonal flooding throughout the park. Approximately 25% of Hillsborough River State Park is in lowland areas and these areas are prone to seasonal flooding. These floods are extremely unpredictable and may affect your hiking experience. Please call the park office at 813-987-6771, for the specific conditions of our trails prior to your visit.
Visitors can picnic under one of the pavilions built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) in the 1930's, or at one of the many picnic benches available throughout the park. Seven pavilions are available to rent. Call the Ranger Station at 813-987-6771, Monday - Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for more information on availability. For fee structure, rental rules and regulations please see our Pavilion Rental Agreement.
Our swimming area with park concession is an ADA-accessible, ½ acre pool, surrounded by plenty of deck space and grassy areas to relax and catch some sun. The entry fee for the pool is $4 plus tax per person, per day, for visitors ages 6 and up; children ages 5 and under are FREE. The pool hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily; weather permitting.
The pool may close for any of the following reasons:
Water temperature below 70 degrees
No lifeguards are on duty from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Please contact the park office for the most up-to-date swimming pool information at 813-987-6771.
A variety of habitats exist in Hillsborough River State Park, including pine flatwoods, floodplain swamp, hardwood and hydric hammock, cypress swamp and grass pond. These natural communities allow for diverse plant and animal communities to be observed by our visitors. Whether on a trail or picnicking, bring your binoculars to get a good look at the wildlife. Additional information about identified animals seen in Hillsborough River State Park can be found in the Ranger Station.
Pets are welcome in all outdoor areas of the park. Visitors should remember to clean up after their pets and keep pets on a 6 foot, hand-held leash at all times. Service animals are welcome in all visitor use areas in the park, but are not allowed to enter the pool. Please contact the Ranger Station for specific pet restrictions or inquiries.
For added enjoyment, the park has two children's playgrounds. One is conveniently located in the riverside picnic area and the other in the pool picnic area.