Most people associate Alafia River State Park with mountain biking, but other activities available in the park include hiking and horseback riding. Located in Lithia, Florida just 40 minutes outside of Tampa it is the perfect park to escape to for a peaceful afternoon in nature.
Alafia River State Park – The Basics
- Address: 14326 S. County Road 39 Lithia, Florida 33547
- Drive distance from select Florida cities:
- Tampa: 40 minutes
- St. Pete: 1 hour
- Orlando: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Jacksonville: 3 hours 45 minutes
- Miami: 4 hours
- Hours: 8 AM to sundown daily
- Entrance fee: $5 (2-8 people); $4 single-occupant vehicle; $2 pedestrians/bicyclists
- Activities: Camping, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and more
- Pet Friendly: Yes, pets must remain on a 6-foot hand leash at all times
- Pets are not allowed on bike trails
Brief History of Alafia River State Park
The park is over 7,000 acres and was donated to the State of Florida in 1996 and the park opened to the public in 1998. Alafia River State Park has one of the most unique landscapes of the parks in central Florida due to previously serving as a phosphate mine. The landscape was altered by mining forming several small lakes and steep grades. This makes the park ideal for outdoor activities including mountain biking and hiking.
Mountain Biking at Alafia River State Park
Mountain biking is amongst one of the most popular activities at Alafia River State Park. The trails hold the International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation and the trail difficulty ranges from beginner to highly advanced. Be sure to check out the trail map before heading out on your bicycle.
Additionally, a full-service bike shop is within the park boundaries and they offer rentals and repair services. Bicycles can be rented for 2 hours, 3 hours, or a full day. Prices range from $40 to $70 based on duration for mountain bikes. There is also a premium option which costs a little more. Kid bike rentals are also available and prices range from $20-40. Prices may vary. More information can be found here.
Hiking at Alafia River State Park
There is only one hiking only trail in the park, but it is worth visiting at least once. The Old Agrico Trail is a 0.8-mile hiking only trail and there are some fun elevation changes. This was one of the first trails I hiked in Florida that reminded me of hiking back home in West Virginia. It was so much fun, I’d even recommend doing it more than once if you want to extend the hike.
TIP: Our first visit at the park we initially had trouble finding the trail and I was a little intimidated by all of the mountain bikers. See below so you can easily access the trail.
- First, we entered the park at the main entrance and headed left after paying our entrance fee at the ranger’s station
- Next, we followed the road to the last available parking lot near the bike shop. Restrooms and picnic pavilions, are available.
- Finally, we accessed the Old Agrico trailhead right next to the bike shop. Look for the large brown sign.
Additional hiking is available at the park on the multi-use trails. There are over 20-miles of additional trails that can be used for hiking or horseback riding. Be sure to bring a map and check for signs as most of the mountain biking trails are designated for biking only.
Horseback Riding at Alafia River State Park
The 20-miles shared equestrian and hiking trails are a great opportunity to explore the park by horseback. There is a separate entrance approximately 1-mile north of the main entrance on County Road 39 to access the equestrian trailhead. Multiple trails are available traveling through wooded areas and around several small lakes.
Camping at Alafia River State Park
There is a family and equestrian campground with 30 campsites reservations can be made online or by phone. Water and electrical hookups are available at each site. There are also restrooms with solar-heated showers. Twelve of the thirty sites are designated for equestrian camping with tie-outs for horses. Additionally there is a primitive group campsite available within the park available only for youths associated with nonprofit organizations. Reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance by calling the ranger station.
Final Thoughts on Alafia River State Park
Alafia River State Park is a great escape into nature just outside of Tampa, Florida and can easily be visited as a day trip from St. Pete, Tampa, or Orlando. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are among the most popular activities although it is primarily known for its mountain bike trails. Have you ever visited Alafia River State Park? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more outdoor adventures?
If you want to visit other Florida State Parks near Tampa, Florida check out these posts.
- Little Manatee River State Park
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Honeymoon Island State Park
- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit Alafia River State Park I recommend verifying information with the Florida State Park website.