The Little Manatee River was acquired in 1974 and opened to Tampa Bay recreation in 1987. It compromises 2433 acres of land along the U.S. 301 and the Little Manatee River, which flows through the property.
Location: 215 Lightfoot Road, Wimauma, FL 33598
Hours: 8:00am – sundown, 365 days a year
Admission: $5 per vehicle, 2-8 persons │ $4 per vehicle, 1 person │ $2 pedestrian │ $22 camping, per night (Plus $6.70 reservation fee, whatever that is).
- Canoe/kayak rentals are only $15 for four hours or $30 for eight hours. That is the cheapest canoe rentals that I have ever come across.
The Little Manatee River State Park is not near as a developed as some of the area’s other state parks, such as Hillsborough State Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, or Caladesi Island State Park. But where it really shines is in its gorgeous hiking trails.
The 6.5 mile hiking trail network starts outside of the park on U.S. 301, just look for the hiking symbol on a sign. The trail is composed of two connected loops. So hikers can either hike the first 2.5 mile loop, or go the whole 6.5 mile distance.
Since I did the hike with my 2 year old son, I only did the smaller loop. I really wanted to do the larger loop too, but figured 6.5 miles might be a bit much for my little boy. The real treat is where the two loop trails intersect. A small bridge spans a small, clear, sandy creek to connect the trails. The creek proved the perfect place to splash around in.
It was only about a foot of water on a sandy riverbed. There was no muck or gross things in it. My son and I spent a good portion of our hike splashing around, which was perfect for a warm day. And that in itself made the hike well worth it.
I certainly want to go back and complete the entire trail someday, but for now that was good enough, and there are a lot of other trails in the area to check out too! So it might be a little while before I get back to that section of my to-do list.
Other activities available include, camping, horseback riding (for those of you who own your own horse), canoeing (no rentals available, must have own canoe), fishing, and grilling out.
If you live in Tampa Bay and have visited the other area state parks, then you should check out the Little Manatee River, but if you are new to the area, check out some of the others first that I listed above.