Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Class II rapids in Florida? You bet, at Hillsborough River State Park


Shortly upon entering Hillsborough River State Park, you'll find yourself traveling down a long, one-way circular road that winds through the 5.2-square-mile park. Near the beginning of the loop, you reach Parking Lot No. 2, and a place called Rapids Trail. You might wonder why, in arguably one of the flattest states in the country, there would be an area named Rapids Trail.

But the answer lies just ahead.

Walking the trail is quiet, and the thick tree canopy above provides a shady respite from the Florida sun. The path is well worn and weaves through a beautiful mix of trees and vegetation. As you continue down the path, you begin to hear a noise similar to the sound of traffic on a busy highway, which only seems to get louder as you proceed. As you come to a bend in the trail, your heart leaps as the source of the noise is instantly revealed. Before you is rushing water, crashing over rocks, forming beautifully stunning rapids.

At this location, the Hillsborough River drops in elevation, causing the water to increase in speed. The natural rock formations intrinsic to this area, coupled with the narrowing of the river, form this breathtaking display of water dynamics. Yes, right here in Central Florida, we have natural wonders that you can usually only find when you head to the mountains on vacation.

Hillsborough River State Park is an easy drive from Tampa and is one of the first state parks in Florida. It offers miles of hiking trails, camping, picnicking, biking, a seasonal ADA-accessible pool, a concession stand and a small store. The hidden gem would be the Class II rapids that bring joy to people of all ages. There are benches where you can rest and take in the sights and sounds of the rushing water, plus a trail that meanders alongside the Hillsborough River, protected from urbanization that might obscure its beauty.

Hillsborough River State Park is located at 15402 N U.S. 301 in Thonotosassa.

Hidden Gems is an occasional photo column that features outdoor places in Hillsborough County that are unknown to many or have features that are unique or hidden. If you have an idea for a Hidden Gem, contact Skip O'Rourke at [email protected]

Class II rapids in Florida? You bet, at Hillsborough River State Park 01/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 5:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn't follow through


    President Donald Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.

    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting  with members of the Senate Finance Committee and his economic team on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at the White House in Washington, D.C. [Pool photo by Chris Kleponis | Getty Images]
  2. State House leader Corcoran urges Congress to back Trump tax cuts


    TAMPA — At a time when President Donald Trump's relations with Congress grow frayed, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran lined up solidly with Trump Tuesday in urging Congress members from Florida to back the president's tax-cutting legislation.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran backs the supply-side economic theory that cutting federal taxes for business owners would result in more jobs for others. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery placed on National Register of Historic Places

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Tampa's Oaklawn and neighboring St. Louis cemeteries just north of downtown have been added to the National Register of  Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  4. Romano: Love to hear your Nazi speech, but I'm washing my hair

    Human Interest

    A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.

    Richard Spencer, center in sunglasses, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clashed with anti-fascist protesters and police in August in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]
  5. Editorial: More work needed to stem juvenile car thefts


    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County's juvenile car theft epidemic. The good news is that arrests ticked down slightly last year — a sign that law enforcement may be beginning to contain the problem. The bad: Reports of stolen vehicles in Pinellas are up this year, and the problem may be …

    There is more bad news than good about Pinellas County’s juvenile car theft epidemic.