A footbridge across the Hillsborough River at Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park is one of the oldest of Florida's state parks, built by the CCC and opened in 1938. The park is bisected by the Hillsborough River, which offers a fast-flowing series of Class II rapids within the park. Because of the proximity to the river, most of the park is a hardwood hammock. The land close to the river is somewhat elevated (and tends to be drier) but as you get away from the river you start to come into areas of swamp. The area around the entrance is mostly pine flatwoods with an understory of saw palmetto.

Away from the rapids, the river provides some excellent float possibilities for canoes and kayaks. The fishing is very good, too. Hillsborough River State Park offers more than seven miles of nature trails for hikers and bikers. The park rents out canoes and bikes from 9 am to 3 pm, but you want to have all your equipment returned by 4 pm.

Spirit of the Woods Café offers breakfast and lunch at the park, serving meals from 9 am to 5 pm every day. The café also offers souvenirs and camping and picnic supplies. There is only one primitive camping site available but there is a full complement of youth/group sites and full-facility sites for trailers and RV's. Camping reservations are highly recommended.

Hillsborough River State Park is open for day use from 8 am to sunset, every day of the year. Admission fees: $4 per single occupant vehicle, $6 per vehicle to a max of 8 occupants, $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers. Camping fees: $24 (plus tax) per site per night, includes water and electric.

The admission fee to Hillsborough River State Park also includes admission to the Fort Foster State Historic Site, located right across the highway from the entry parking lot.