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Wet River Hike Along the Hillsborough

I took a hike along the Hillsborough River during that wet weekend–you know, the one where people in South Tampa were getting around town by canoe? Yup, for some reason I decided that was a good time to go hiking. So I decided to try a trail I’ve had my eye on for some time called Heartbreak Ridge.

It’s located in the Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System, which is the best place to hike in Tampa. There’s lots of spur trails and a great 20-mile loop trail. To access the trail head go to Morris Bridge Park.

This is what the trail head looked like when I got there…

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The trail had turned into a steady flowing stream. But that didn’t deter me. I knew I was out-of-season hiking and, therefore, going to get my socks wet. This particular trail head is part of a loop. It’s the backside of the loop, the front side follows along the Hillsborough River, but is only passable with a canoe this time of year. I pressed on.

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The River Overlook is a spur trail near the Heartbreak Ridge trail. Eventually I got to the trail head I was looking for:

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I don’t know why this is labeled an “Extremely Difficult Trail” as all trails in Florida are flat. The trail was flooded, but passable. The mosquitoes would leave me alone if I kept moving, but as soon as I stopped they swarmed. My socks were getting muddy.

Eventually I came to this sign:

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I did not see any bridge ahead. All I saw was water. I’m sure the bridge was under there somewhere. I decided to head back and to the river overlook. The river overlook trail is on an elevated bed that at one time was railroad tracks. Swamp and water were on either side of the bed. I kept an eye open for alligators, but did not see any.

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There is a deck at the overlook. It’s set where the Hillsborough River takes a hard turn. I saw some kayakers enjoying the flood waters. They were paddling over where part of the trail used to be. It will be there again in a couple months.

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The yellow sign says “Hikers Only.”

Here’s a view from the overlook:

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I had fun taking the water hike. Although I can’t wait until  prime time Florida Hiking season begins at the end of September. You better believe I’m gonna be out there on the trail!