A Quiet, Scenic Ride around Florida’s Flatwoods Park
Flatwoods Park, located in Hillsborough County, Florida, is the perfect escape from the Tampa Bay area congestion. When you are at Flatwoods, you feel like you are out in the wilderness. The park is very quiet with a very natural feel. Beautiful pine flatwood forests and swamp views comprise most of the park. During the morning hours, you may be able to see various forms of wildlife including deer, bobcats, and gators (mostly in the cooler winter months).
The highlight here is a 7 mile paved multi-purpose trail which is ideal for biking, walking, running, or skating. Tree lined views the entire route provide a much needed oasis from the hefty crowds found elsewhere in the city. As you bike or walk along, you will be treated to endless views of the pine forests. At times, I almost forgot I was in Florida.
The 7 mile loop at Flatwoods is very flat, making it easily accessible to everyone. Be aware that from the Bruce Downs Road parking lot, you will need to bike or walk approximately 2 miles before reaching the loop (the ride from the Morris Bridge lot is a bit shorter). So your entire ride/walk will be about 11 miles round trip (you can always turn back earlier if you are not able to complete the entire route). Mile markers located along the route are helpful to track your distance. I also recommend a GPS watch like the Garmin Forerunner to track your pace and total time.
The entire loop took us a little under an hour and a half. We enjoyed a moderate morning in the upper 70’s/low 80’s. Plan your adventure early before the temperatures climb into the 90’s.
Traffic was very light on Sunday morning with only a handful of other cyclists and the occasional jogger. I highly recommend this park if you are looking for a quiet weekend escape, if only for a few hours. Here you can enjoy Florida as it should be – scenic, peaceful, and nature filled with the absence of traffic, crowds, and strip malls!
Other activities at the park include: nature trails, birdwatching, and picknicking
*Bring with a reusable water bottle. There are stations to fill it up.
*Make sure your bike is properly tuned.
*Wear loose fitting clothing.
*Wear sunscreen and a hat.
*Bring with a camera – plenty of great photo opportunities.
*Plan summer visits in the morning or evening to avoid the extreme heat.
*Pick up a trail map (located next to the bathroom)
*Pack a picnic lunch for your visit. It’s a beautiful park to relax and enjoy the afternoon.
*A walk along the boardwalk nature trail is a great place to take a break and observe the wetlands.
Location & Parking
There are 2 entrances to the park. One is located at 14302 Morris Bridge Road in Thonotosassa and the other at 18205 Bruce Downs Road in Tampa. Hours are sunrise to sunset. Parking is $2 per car.