Hillsborough River State Park
The HRSP Preservation Society is committed to preserving and maintaining historic structures that tell the visitors of today the park’s stories from yesterday.
The caretaker’s cottage, the support buildings and the suspension bridge at Hillsborough River State Park were constructed between 1934 and 1936. Most of the park’s recreational facilities were constructed between 1935 and 1938. Additional wood frame and native stone residences were constructed by park personnel, and several picnic shelters and a boat house were constructed between 1939 and 1941 from National Park Service plans, probably by the Florida Park Service or its contractors.
A Home for Wildlife
Within the boundaries of Hillsborough River State Park are 3,738 acres of pine flatwoods, floodplain swamp, hardwood hammock, cypress swamp and ponds. The variety of habitats accounts for the diverse species of wildlife recorded in the park. By protecting this rich ecology, we support birds and animals that visitors may encounter and learn more about.
Respect for all wildlife is critical for their health and safety. Friends of the park of all ages can communicate this to visitors when the opportunity arises.
Many birds species can be seen in the park; some are residents year round, some only visit in winter. No matter the season, the park offers visitors a chance to observe birds they may not encounter elsewhere, such as the Green Heron, Night Herons, Bobwhites, Woodcocks, Limpkins, Barred Owls, Nighthawks, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Loggerhead Shrikes. Especially in winter you are likely to see any number of warblers, the most common being the Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white, Palm and Pine, Yellow-rumped and Northern Parula.
Interesting mammals to watch for include Marsh Rabbits, Sherman Fox Squirrels, Bobcats, and our River Otters. In summer, visitors watch the night sky for the Seminole Bat, and listen for the Southern Flying Squirrels whose high-pitched squeak may emerge from liveoaks.
Reptiles and Amphibians
The park has its alligators, but there are other interesting reptiles in the river system and along the trails. Common turtles in the waterways include the Chicken, Cooter, and Redbelly. On dry land, you can see the shy Mud turtles and our important Gopher Tortoises, who share their burrows with up to 200 other species. You are likely to see Green Anoles and two types of Skinks.
Campers are likely to meet toads and frogs through their calls. If you hear marbles knocking together, this is the Florida Cricket Frog; the sound of a thumb across a balloon is the Leopard Frog. Especially after a rain there is a chorus of treefrogs and more calling from temporary ponds.
Although there are many snake species documented for the park, the ones you are likely to see are non-venomous and important to the balance of nature in the park. Southern Black Racers and Yellow Rat Snakes are the most common; if you are lucky, you will find the tiny Southern Ringneck Snake, graceful Peninsula Ribbon Snake or Eastern Garter.
Great blue herons grace the tree tops.
Many deer call the park home. They can often be seen at dusk and dawn.
Native Florida wildflowers such as this Liatris are a good source of nectar for Gulf Fritillary butterflies.
Great blue herons grace the tree tops.
Hillsborough River State Park can provide you with many hours of communing with nature or just plain relaxation and fun. From an afternoon picnic, an all day family reunion, an extended stay by overnight camping or a corporate gathering, Hillsborough River State Park provides an exceptional setting in a natural environment for folks to relax and reconnect with family, friends and colleagues.
Amenities for Visitors
Hillsborough River State Park offers 112 campsites, picnic areas, pavilions and canoe launch.
Stay for the night or weekend in our 106-site family campground. Go hiking or biking on the many miles of trails within the park, or take a canoe trip down the river and check out the beautiful rapids—the park’s most outstanding natural feature.
Back to Nature
A popular trail is the Rapids Nature Trail. It meanders through oak hammocks to the edge of the Hillsborough River at the point where an outcropping of limestone rocks has created rapids. This area is a popular spot for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.