Make us your home page
Instagram

Hidden Gem: Thonotosassa's John B. Sargeant Sr. Memorial Park

THONOTOSASSA — As the weather cools, the hiking, canoeing and scenic vistas at John B. Sargeant Sr. Memorial Park just grow more inviting.

If you're asking, "Where is that? I have never heard of that place," then you understand why the Thonotosassa park stands as one of Hillsborough County's "Hidden Gems."

In 1989, Flint Creek Park was renamed in memory of John B. Sargeant Sr., who served as a member of the Hillsborough River Basin Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

At 23 acres, the park is small compared with parks like Lettuce Lake, Morris Bridge and Hillsborough River State Park, all part of the Hillsborough River Corridor. Visitors would be wise to bring mosquito repellent, but a little annoyance is worth the visit.

The beautiful centerpiece of this park is a boardwalk that meanders through a swampy cypress and oak area, harkening back to a scene from prehistoric times.

Abundant wildlife adds color to the landscape. Alligators cruise along the river, descending from the banks with tremendous splashes, startling birds into flight.

In fact, you might notice the resident 4-foot gator, which park rangers have named Waldo, straddling a bank near the park bench you are sitting on in the boat launch area.

Bird watchers will be delighted as a variety of Florida's native birds walk, fly and hop very close to the boardwalk, making photo opportunities quite easy.

On any given day, a great blue heron, ibis, hawk or bald eagle might be seen. Rabbits, otters, deer and wild hogs also call this park their home, allowing visitors an occasional glimpse.

The lush swamp is the main attraction, however, with a personality all its own. The plentiful oak and cypress trees offer a rich shade of cover as you stroll along the raised boardwalk.

The vast array of plant life that flourishes on both sides of the walkway provide a beautifully distracting display.

At the boardwalk's midpoint, an open vista overlooks the juncture where the Hillsborough River and Flint Creek join as they flow toward Tampa Bay.

For adventurous visitors, canoe and kayak rentals are available. Casual paddlers can enjoy a two-hour trip downriver to Morris Bridge Park, while those with more experience can enjoy the remote wilderness of the Seventeen Runs portion of the Hillsborough River Canoe Trail.

Hikers can enjoy the 6.7-mile trail that runs from John B. Sargeant Park to the Model Dairy trailhead at Hillsborough River State Park.

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, email Skip O'Rourke at sorourke@tampabay.com.

IF YOU GO

John B. Sargeant Sr. Memorial Park

Boardwalk, boat ramp, canoe and kayak launch, fishing pier, hiking, picnic tables, restrooms, access to the Hillsborough River. Open sunrise to sunset daily. 12702 U.S. 301, Thonotosassa. (813) 987-6208; bit.ly/sargeant-park.

Hidden Gem: Thonotosassa's John B. Sargeant Sr. Memorial Park 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 6:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After last year's drug-related deaths, Tampa's Sunset Music Festival says it's stepping up safety, security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Alex Haynes worked three jobs. He had a fiance and an infant son. He owned his own home in Melbourne. Last summer, the 22-year-old attended the Sunset Musical Festival at Raymond James Stadium.

    He left in an ambulance.

    Last year’s Sunset Music Festival was marked by dozens of medical emergencies.
  2. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in

    Consumer

    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Pain does not exist in the Karate 3 soundtrack ... does it?!?

    Blogs

    Should the Karate Kid series have stopped at the original? Probably, but if we didn't have Karate Kid 3 would will still have the lost song Listen To Her Heart by the Little River Band?

  4. Bar review: The Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    I've spent many evenings in St. Pete's Jannus Live courtyard, enjoying one of the best open-air venues in the Tampa Bay area. It's where I saw my first concert in Florida: Toadies, on the Rubberneck tour sometime in the mid '90s.

    The drinks at the Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg are about as cheap as you’ll find at any other regular downtown bar, a nice surprise.
  5. Local craft beer of the week: Two Henrys Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat

    Bars & Spirits

    Two Henrys Brewing Company is a unique entity in the Tampa Bay brewing scene, due to both its status as the only brewery in Plant City, as well as its location on a 27-acre working farm, which also includes a winery.

    Photo by Justin Grant