Kayaking the Hillsborough River of Central Florida
If you're looking for a little outdoor adventure on your next trip to central Florida why not consider a canoe or kayak trip down the Hillsborough River? Located just sixteen miles from downtown Tampa and fifteen minutes from Busch Gardens lies the meandering Hillsborough River. Starting in the Green Swamp, the Hillsborough River winds through two counties before ending its journey into Tampa Bay. Along the way, the river passes through the Hillsborough River State Park, which occupies over three thousand acres along the rivers banks.
Hillsborough River State Park opened in 1938, making it one of the oldest state parks in Florida. The river attracts kayaker's and canoeists who are looking to bond with nature as they take a relaxing trip down the river.
If you are visiting the area you can rent a kayak or canoe through Canoe Escape, an outfitter that has been providing tours on the Hillsborough River for over twenty-five years. This family-owned business takes great pride in providing environmentally friendly paddling experiences on the Hillsborough River. They offer self-guided downstream trips, hourly rentals, and interpretive guided nature tours along the Hillsborough River. For a great outdoor experience give them a call.
- John B. Sargeant Park
- 12702 U.S. 301
- Thonotosassa, FL. 33592
Hours: Opens at 9 am daily. Last rental is at 3:30 pm.
Rates vary depending on whether you are renting a double or single kayak/canoe.
Interpretive guided tours are available in groups every Wednesday starting at 11 am. Private tours are also available on your schedule and must be reserved at least 48 hours in advance.
For a really special event Canoe Escape offers a moonlight, guided tour that will explore 5 miles of the river. Call ahead for reservations and available dates.
I can't say enough about our experience on the Hillsborough River. You are truly transformed into another world, a wilderness wonderland away from the hustle and bustle of the Tampa Bay area. It was astounding the amount and variety of wildlife that we saw during our trip down the river. We encountered numerous alligators, countless turtles, a barred owl, hawks, a very large water moccasin, egret, ibis, anhinga, and blue heron. This is just a small sampling of the wildlife you may encounter on your outing. All this during a half-day, self-guided trip down the river.
And if sharing a river with alligators concerns you, be assured that they keep to themselves and Canoe Escape has never had an incident. If you're looking for a truly unique outdoor experience while you're in the Tampa Bay area check out the Hillsborough River and the folks at Canoe Escape.
© 2012 Bill De Giulio