The Tampa Bay area has many great adventure run spots. Many state and county parks have hiking and/or nature trails that are also suited for running. Most are well-marked and ideal for beginners. Here are some favorites:
Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve: The largest regional park in Hillsborough County, this area includes Dead River Park, Flatwoods Park, John B. Sargeant Park, Morris Bridge Park, Off-Road Loop Trail and Trout Creek Park. For information, go to www.swfwmd.state.fl.us.
Hillsborough River State Park: This 3,000-acre park adjoins the Lower Hillsborough preserve and has its own network of trails. For information, go to www.floridastateparks.org.
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve: Located on the shores of Lake Maggiore in St. Petersburg, this 245-acre city park has more than 3 miles of trails and boardwalks. For information, go to www.stpete.org/boyd.
Weedon Island Preserve: Just a 15-minute drive from downtown St. Petersburg, this county preserve has more than 3 miles of trails and boardwalks as well. For information, go to www.weedonislandcenter.org.
Honeymoon Island State Park: A few miles northwest of downtown Dunedin, the 21/2-mile Osprey Trail snakes through one of the few remaining stands of Florida slash pines. For information, go to www.floridastateparks.org.
J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park: Located in western Pasco County, east of New Port Richey, this county park has more than 27 miles of trails that go through a variety of habitat. For information, go to www.swf wmd.state.fl.us.
Croom Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest: One of the prime adventure racing/trail running areas in Florida, Croom was named one of the "10 Coolest Places in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund. Try the 14.8-mile A/B/C Trail or one of several adjoining trails. For information, go to www.dep.state.fl.us.
Upcoming trail runs
Feb. 13: The 14th annual Chinsegut Run and Run Walk, a 5-kilometer event through the woodland trails of the Chinsegut Nature Center, is a great adventure run for first timers. The Nature Center, located about 7 miles north of Brooksville (1 mile west of U.S. 41 on County Road 476), is a great place to spend a day. The race begins at 8:30 a.m., but you can register in person starting at 7:30 a.m. For information, call the center at (352) 754-6722 or visit www.myfwc.com/chinsegut.
Feb. 14: Flatwoods Four Trail Run, 4-mile run at Flatwoods Park in Tampa.
March 14: Trout Creek Trail Runs, 5K and 15K, Trout Creek Wilderness Park near Thonotosassa.
April 3: Croom 50M/50K/15M Fools Trail Run, Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. For information, go to www.tamparaces.com.