The sixth annual Hillsborough County Hiking Spree began on November 1. This means it is time for all residents to get out and discover all of the natural beauty that Hillsborough County has to offer.
Last year, my daughter, Katie, and I registered for and completed the Hiking Spree. It was a really fun experience. We have registered again for this year’s Hiking Spree.
More than 7,500 residents and pets registered for last year’s Hiking Spree. If you complete it, you get to earn a prize, including a medallion, patch or pet bandana. To earn a prize, you only need to hike eight of the designated 26 trails anytime between now and Thursday, March 31, 2022. You can also select one trail that is not on the list.
The trails are designed to offer something for everyone, from hiking rookies (like me) to seasoned outdoor enthusiasts (like Katie), with hikes rated easy, moderate or strenuous. The length of the trails range from five miles to less than one mile. The environmentally diverse sites are spread throughout the county and range from neighborhood parks like Rodney Colson Park in Seffner to large preserves with multiple habitats like Edward Medard Conservation Park in Plant City.
Most neighborhood parks have ADA-accessible trails. In addition, nearly all trails are pet-friendly, and participants are encouraged to bring their leashed pets.
Katie and I checked out many trails that we enjoyed. The very first one we hiked was Blackwater Creek Nature Preserve in Plant City. It is over four miles in length and rated a primitive trail of a strenuous nature. One of our favorite hikes was the Old Agrico Hiking Trail at Alafia State Park in Lithia. This one is rated easy but is also a primitive trail.
This year’s list includes three state parks and, for the first time, the preserve at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach.
The Hiking Spree is timed to take advantage of the cooler, drier weather and to coincide with prime bird watching season. Participants are encouraged to post photos using the hashtag #TakeAHikeHC.
In order to receive a prize, you have to be registered. To register for the 2021-2022 Hiking Spree, please visit www.HCFLGov.net/hikingspree.