Hillsborough River State Park is a state park located in the northeast corner of Hillsborough County, Florida. The park has over 2 miles (3km) of riverfront and is adjacent to the city of Lake Wales. It provides public access to the Hillsborough River for boating, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, fishing, camping, and environmental education. Canoes can be rented from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Amenities include boat ramps, picnic areas with shelters, campsites that vary in amenities, cabins, nature trails, an equestrian center, miniature golf course, swimming beach, playgrounds, bike path, hiking trail, scenic views of the river, wildlife viewing area, and full facility dump station.
There are also two campgrounds within the park. Cypress View Campground contains 30 sites, all with water and electric hookups. Timber Cove Campground features 12 primitive sites and 6 semi-modern sites, along with 3 camper cabins, modern bathhouse, and pit toilets. The park’s horse camp contains 14 stables containing 40 horses. Each stable is equipped with a sand box/rubber ring arena, shelter, and pasture. Horses available for rental have varied ages and breeds, including Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, American Saddle Horses, English Sport Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, and Pony Pairs.
A one mile loop bicycle trail was completed in 2014, which connects to the Pinellas Trail. Hillsborough River State Park has been voted Best Place To Hike by the Tampa Bay Times. In addition, it was named by Backpacker magazine as having “one of America’s top 50 backpacking locations”. Hillsborough River State Park is open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day of the year (including holidays). Parking fees are $8 per vehicle. For those renting a cabin or room, there is a four night limit. Pets are not permitted in any lodging facilities. No alcoholic beverages, glass, kites, drones, fireworks, hunting, or weapons of any kind may be brought onto the property.
On August 24, 2016, Hillsborough River State Park was temporarily closed due to severe weather conditions. After surveying the damage, officials determined that only one tree fell on the group cottages, which were completely undamaged. However, this particular tree did not fall far from the main road into the park, so drivers should still use caution when entering the park. Despite the closure, parking remains free throughout the park. On May 25, 2017, Hurricane Irma caused significant damage to the park, forcing officials to close the park until further notice. Although some signs remained down indicating the closure, visitors could enter the park, providing they had a permit issued by the park authorities. Damage included uprooted trees, broken fences, and flooded buildings. An unsheltered picnic pavilion suffered extensive structural damage, and its roof was destroyed. By June 20, most of the damage had been repaired, and the park reopened to the public. Hillsborough River State Park is a popular destination during the summer season because of the crystal clear waters, soft sandy beaches, blue sky, and warm temperatures.
Activities at the park include:
- wildlife viewing