A Quiet, Scenic Ride around Florida’s Flatwoods Park
Flatwoods Park, located in Hillsborough County, is a little nature oasis amidst 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 wilderness vibe. Beautiful native 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 Flatwoods Loop trail – 7 miles of pines
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 change of scenery from surrounding suburbia. 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 the more wild side of Florida – scenic, peaceful, and nature filled with the absence of traffic, crowds, and strip malls!
Other activities within the park include: nature trails, birdwatching, and picnicking.
Tips for a great ride
*Bring with a reusable water bottle. There are stations to refill.
*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 extreme heat and sunshine.
*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.