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My Lettuce Lake Hike

Lettuce Lake is a “small” 240 acre park located off of I-75 on Fletcher Ave in Tampa. For those of you who just wanna enter the address in your GPS and go, here it is: 6920 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL 33637.

It has boardwalks that hover over and through cypress dome, hardwood forest, and flood plain. During my short little stay I saw some new birds, an alligator, and enjoyed panoramic views of the Hillsborough River from a lookout tower.

It costs two dollars to get in. The rangers are friendly but do prefer exact change. There’s canoes for rent. Taking one out on the river certain times of the year will guarantee you see loads of wild alligators. My favorite part, though, are the boardwalks.

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This is what a typical section of the boardwalk looks like, floating above green vegetation and lurking alligators.

Speaking of lurking alligators…

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This American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) was right up against the boardwalk, not at all shy of people; most likely because people feed him, which is a very bad idea. Once an alligator gets fed from a human hand it looses its natural fear of people and instead thinks of them as food.

Here’s another bird I can check off my birding list. This is a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), which was perched right along the boardwalk. Usually, this bird hunts during the night, but has been known to be active during the daylight hours. It’s generally found in coastal mangroves or swampy areas, like Lettuce Lake.

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Here’s a Great Egret (Ardea alba) tromping through the wetlands. I also saw a Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and a few other birds, but unfortunately the pictures didn’t turn out well and aren’t worth putting up here. Someday, someday, someday…I’ll get a fancy pants camera for my adventures.

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Three turtles chillin’ on a branch. I don’t know what kind they are. I’m still working on my birds. They didn’t seem at all alarmed at the presence of the nearby alligator.

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A view of Lettuce Lake. The farthest back reaches of the water in this pictures is actually part of Hillsborough River. You can see that it flows around the bend.

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My only annoyance throughout the day was the discarded plastic bottles haphazardly tossed over the sides of the boardwalk and into the beautiful ecosystem. Yeah, it irked me. Below is one of many that I saw:

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And finally, here it is: the “lettuce” on Lettuce Lake:

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The weather was perfect. The sights great. This is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon whether you reside in Tampa or are just passing through on the interstate and need a pit stop to take in some Florida scenery. And remember, all this adventure for two bucks. Totally worth it.

Until next time, friends…

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