In 1848 James Alderman was the first settler along the Alafia River at the location where Alderman’s Ford Park in Plant City – Lithia, Florida, sits today.
In old English, the word ford describes crossing a body of water at a shallow point. When James Alderman settled the land, he built the crossing by cutting down the river’s steep banks, creating a ford.
The historic site is now a popular park for outdoor enthusiasts. With its scenic beauty and easy walking hard dirt, paved and boardwalk trails, it is the perfect place for anyone wishing to take a relaxing leisurely walk. For those wanting a longer hike, there are connecting trails that will provide miles of hiking enjoyment.
The land along the Alafia River is some of the most picturesque in Florida and represents old Florida how early settlers must have seen it.
John and I entered at the entrance off of Highway 39 at 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr. in Plant City. At this location, you will find the popular 1.8-mile paved loop trail that follows along the Alafia River. This paved loop is shared by walkers and bicyclists and has an offshoot 1/2 mile boardwalk giving users a spectacular overlook view of the river.
At 9625 Canoe Launch Loop in Lithia, you will find Alderman’s Ford Regional Park which is connected to Alderman’s Ford Park by the 1.8 mile paved trail. This is the entrance where the Canoe Launch is located and where canoers will want to park. The entrance fee at either park is just $2.00 per vehicle.
Primitive campsites are also available at Alderman’s Ford Regional Park and can be reserved by calling the park office at (813) 757-3801. These remote sites have a picnic table, hammock stands, and fire pits. There is no water or electricity. An approximately 1 to 1.5-mile hike is required to reach the sites. Restroom facilities (no showers) are located approximately one-half mile from the sites.
Alderman’s Ford Park has a nice playground area with abundant picnic facilities scattered about. There are also picnic facilities located at Alderman’s Ford Regional Park.
John and I find the Alafia River corridor to be a stunning part of Florida. There are numerous parks and preserves in the area providing connecting multi-use trails, and it is an area that we highly recommend exploring.
For you thrill-seekers out there that enjoy a challenging trail adventure atop a mountain bike, we suggest checking out nearby Alafia River State Park.
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