Patti Cross, Park Manager
Hello and thank you for visiting the webpage for Little Manatee River State Park. Now you need to plan a visit in person. This park is a gem, located equidistant from Tampa, Saint Petersburg and Sarasota it is easily reached by I-75 and should be a regular stop when you are looking for something to do outdoors in the greater Tampa Bay area. The top three things to do at this park are hiking, horseback riding and paddling. And if you want to do all three, there is a campground with great buffers between the sites to stay in. I suggest planning several days to take your time and really explore the beauty and unique natural communities found in this park.
If you want a moderately strenuous hike, go to the North trail and hike 6.5 miles through hammock, bottomland forest, flatwoods, scrub and sand hill communities with elevation changes of 35 feet up and down, from full shade to full sun. If you bring water, lunch and the other usual gear like sunscreen and bug repellent and wear those hiking shoes, you’ll leave the trail feeling fulfilled having had a safe, fun, Florida adventure.
By horseback is probably the most picturesque way to experience Little Manatee River State Park. Your view is rarely impeded and you get to see vistas rarely ever seen except by horseback. With over 15 miles of equestrian trails and several enhanced trail features to challenge you and your horse, this a great place to go trail riding.
One of the reasons this is a state park is the Little Manatee River, a pristine blackwater river that flows through the park for more than five miles. Each time you paddle this river you can have a new experience, the river is constantly changing, changing its course, the depth, obstacles to paddle around and the speed. One time you could have a leisurely paddle with clear black water over white sandy bottom riverbed and the next time you could be moving a bit more swiftly and be joined by manatees nibbling on riverbank vegetation. The launch is temporarily positioned about 1000 feet from the parking lot, so be prepared to carry your canoe or kayak down to the launch. The park does have few canoes and kayaks to rent that you can paddle out and back with but if you are interested in a one-way trip contact our partner, the Little Manatee River Canoe Outpost located just outside the park on US 301 for paddle excursions with pick-up service.
Whatever brings you to Little Manatee River State Park the staff and I look forward to meeting you and helping you to have the best possible visit. See you soon!