Splendor of the Hillsborough River

A view of the rapids.

The Hillsborough River is the central natural feature of the park. The expansive river flows from two northern sources, the Green Swamp and Crystal Springs.

Hillsborough River Rapids

Millions of gallons of water flow through the river each day, eventually making its way to Tampa Bay.

If you take a short walk down the Rapids Trail, you’ll soon encounter the swift, flowing class II rapids of the Hillsborough River. The roaring water can be heard crashing around the rocks, creating an incredible picture of the beauty of nature.

These water rapids, usually found only among mountainous areas, are truly a fascinating and unusual natural feature in this part of Florida.

If you look closely among the rapids, you’ll see bunches of limestone outcrop jutting out from the water. These rocks are indicative of the limestone geology that formed millions of years ago in this area.

This unique feature provides a home to various plants, invertebrates and fish.

Hillsborough River Rapids

Because the rocks are porous, their crevices are home to more plants and animals than other parts of the slow-moving, soft-bottom river. The abundance of food attracts various wading birds, including great blue herons and great egrets. The rapids are also home to native predatory animals such as American alligators and river otters.  

Apart from the rapids, people are also drawn to the Hillsborough River by its more peaceful areas, where they can simply watch the water flow quietly past them. Bald cypress trees line the banks where you can escape technology and the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Allow yourself to become one with the landscape around you as you take in the majesty of the Hillsborough River.