Many people are drawn to Lithia Springs Park to immerse themselves in the refreshing, cool waters of the headspring. However, as FishHawk resident Kerrie Hoening discovered, there’s more to enjoy near this special park. Running adjacent to the park is FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve, a 3,286-acre site bisected by FishHawk Blvd. and divided into a north and south section.
The north portion, which can be accessed by entering Lithia Springs Park (for a $2 fee per vehicle) at 3931 Lithia Springs Rd., includes two pavilions with picnic tables and more than 3 miles of hiking trails. The south portion has free parking at 16640 Boyette Rd. and includes pavilions with picnic tables, a basketball court and a hiking trail, a portion of which is closed for restoration.
The north portion of the trail can also be accessed via a paved walkway between Starling and The Preserve. After walking through the gate, the trail entrance is on the left side of the parking area. Hoening happened upon the trail one day during a bike ride.
“It’s a hidden gem a stone’s throw from where we live,” she said. “It was so picturesque and there was also access to FishHawk Creek.”
The trail, though not paved, is wide and well marked. While mountain bikes might be able to navigate the sometimes-rough terrain, it’s best to leave your road bike at home. When taking a hike, bring plenty of water, download the trail map, tell someone your plan, wear proper shoes and sun protection and stay on the marked trails.
Spring is a great time to take a hike on one of Florida’s many nature trails. To help get residents moving, Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation is sponsoring the 2022 Hiking Spree. Register for the program online, download the Hiking Spree’s printable trail list and start hiking. Participants who complete a minimum of eight designated trails between November 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 will earn a prize.
While the trails in FishHawk Creek Nature Preserve aren’t part of the program, other local trails located in Alafia River State Park, Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park, Edward Medard Conservation Park, Alafia River Corridor South Preserve and Bell Creek Nature Preserve are on the trail list.
Trails are open from sunrise to sunset.
For more information about the Hiking Spree and the list of trails to explore, visit www.hcflgov.net/hikingspree. For more information about FishHawk Creek Preserve, call 673-7876.