John and I have been hiking now for just over a year, and up to this point, we had been choosing trails that have been easy to moderate trails to navigate. After a year, we decided that perhaps it was time to step it up a bit and choose a hike that had some kick to it, and that is exactly what we found on The Old Agrico Hiking Trail at Alafia River State Park.
The trail is described as narrow and hilly on the trail map, but I can tell you that it is as beautiful as it is challenging and well worth the extra effort to hike it. Now I want you to keep in mind that John and I are seniors and are relative newbies to hiking, so what we might find challenging may really be a piece of cake for you younger, more experienced hikers. But the bottom line to this hike is the gorgeous landscape from beginning to end.
The Ole Agrico Hiking trail that John and I experience is not a long hike, I believe it was around 2 miles in length, perhaps a little less, but with all the elevation changes, it proved to be a good workout.
The park feature that I found intriguing and one that is probably what makes this state park so popular is its mountain biking trails.
Alafia River State Park is renowned for its exceptional mountain biking trails and has the International Mountain Biking Association, Epic designation. Several mountain biking trails are constructed to fit different skill levels, so whether you are a beginner or a more experienced rider, there is a trail there to fit your experience level.
John and I have been thinking of taking up mountain biking, and that is why we chose to explore Alafia River State Park. We don’t ever think we would be able to ride the highly experienced course, but we certainly would love to ride on the beginner’s trails.
There is a bike shop within the park for rentals and instruction open Friday – Sunday. Hours are from 10 am to 5 pm on Fridays and 8 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays; for more information, contact UBC at Alafia River State Park.
The over 7000 acres of land that makeup Alafia River State Park was donated by phosphate mining companies. In years past, the mining done created radical elevation changes and created new landforms such as several small lakes and the steep grades that bicyclists enjoy today.
The forest bordering the south prong of the Alafia River is an area that was protected from mining. This prong of the river is a blackwater stream that flows through the park and makes for great opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Boaters can enjoy the waters of the Alafia River by accessing the south prong of the river using a boat ramp that is located on Thatcher Road, south of the park.
In addition to the biking trail and the Old Agrico Hiking Trail, the park offers approximately 20 miles of equestrian trails, and there are even accommodations for equestrian camping. Equestrian campers have access to 12 sites with equestrian designation and tie-outs for horses. Equestrian campers can access the barn, which is a short walk from the campground. There are 12 stables and 6 paddocks available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For RV and tent campers, there are 30 campsites with water and electrical hookups at each site. Restrooms and solar-heated showers are also provided at the family campsite area. For more information on camping or to reserve your stay, contact Reserve America. What a great weekend adventure this would be.
The recreational opportunities in Alafia River State Park are endless, and the landscape is breathtaking. For those of you who love the Florida outdoors, this park will certainly not disappoint.
Alafia River State Park is located at 14326 South County Road 39
Lithia, FL 33547, about 40 minutes east and south of Tampa. Hours are 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle.
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