Canoeing on Hurrah Lake at Alafia River State Park

Alafia River State Park has become a favorite for a local mountain bike club: they have developed 14 miles of advanced bike trails on the property. There's also 20 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails at the park.

Alafia River State Park is near Lithia, a small town about 10 miles southeast of Tampa in Hillsborough County.

At one time, this property was an abandoned phosphate strip mine, abandoned before remediation laws came into effect. So the former owners left behind a jumble of abrupt hills and pond depressions (perfect topography for mountain biking enthusiasts). Since abandonment, the Florida "jungle" has reclaimed the place on its own and you might never know there was a mine here.

Alafia River State Park is a 6,260-acre property with a mix of pine flatwoods and hardwood forest covering the rolling hills surrounding the south fork of the Alafia River. There's a nice collection of small lakes on the state park, too. Lots of wildlife for the nature enthusiasts, lots of opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

The park offers a full-facility campground with some sites just for tents and some with facilities for equine-enthusiasts. There's also a volleyball court, horseshoe pit and playground. Day use at Alafia River State Park runs from 8 am to sundown, every day of the year.

Fees: $4 per single occupant vehicle. $5 per vehicle with up to 8 occupants. $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers. Equestrian fees: $7 (plus tax) per horse per day, max: 2 horses. Equestrians must present a recent negative Coggins test at time of registration. $15 (plus tax) per tow vehicle and trailer, 9 persons max, per day. Camping fee: $22 (plus tax) per site per night, includes water and electric. Equestrian fees are not included in the camping fee.

To get there: Alafia River State Park is located on County Road 39, about ten miles southeast of Tampa. From Interstate 4, take exit 22 to Park Road. Follow Park Road for about 2.5 miles to CR 39B and bear right. Then go left on the James Redman Parkway (CR 39) and go about 15.2 miles to the park entrance. Coming north on Interstate 75 get off at exit 240 and turn east on State Route 674. Go east about 15 miles to the flashing light marking the intersection with CR 39. Go left for about 5 miles to the park entrance. Coming south on Interstate 75, get off at exit 257 and turn east on State Route 60. Go to Lithia Pinecrest Road (County Road 640) and turn right. Go eleven miles to CR 39 and turn right. The Alafia River State Park entrance will be down CR 39 on the left.