|Distance: 11.5 miles
from Aldermans Ford Park to Lithia Springs Park
|Atlas: Page 92 A-1
|Last Update: July 2003
||Canoe OK: Yes
The Alafia River (Al-a-fie) traverses eastern Hillsborough County
for approximately 45 miles from the town of Mulberry to the cities
of Riverview and Gibsonton on Hillsborough Bay. The upper stretches
of the river are very narrow and difficult to navigate, even in
a canoe or kayak. As the Alafia approaches the bay, the river widens
substantially and the paddler is likely to encounter powerboat traffic.
During low water years, it is recommended to start no further upstream
than Aldermans Ford Park.
Small whitewater rapids ahead.
| The section of river between Aldermans Ford
and Lithia Springs Park offers 11.5 miles of scenic river that
is easy-to-moderate to paddle depending on water level.
The Alafia River is located 20 miles southeast of downtown Tampa.
Take I-75 to SR 60, Brandon Town Center exit 257 (old #51). Go east
on SR 60 to Lithia Pinecrest Road (CR 640). Turn right and proceed
about 8 miles to Lithia Springs Road. Turn right and continue 1.5
miles to the entrance of the springs.
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Lithia Springs Park Fee, $1 per person
[Optional] Canoe rentals available
Small whitewater rapids (shoals)
Current 1 to 4 MPH
Oak and Cypress trees
Craig paddling the Alafia River.
Tour #1: Aldermans Ford Park to Lithia Springs Park
This remarkable 11.5 mile river trip begins at the take-out at
Lithia Springs County Park. The park requires a small entrance fee
per person. Follow the signs to the canoe launch. You'll want to
leave a car here to later take you back upstream to pick up your
primary vehicle. Proceed in your primary vehicle to Aldermans Ford
Canoe Launch located by SR 39 and Thompson Road. Don't forget the
boats and gear!
If you don't have the desire to shuttle vehicles, Alafia River
Canoe Rentals at 4419 River Drive (phone 813-689-8645) can help.
Besides offering rentals, they provide transportation to Aldermans
Ford for a very modest fee.
The canoe launch at Aldermans Ford is on a channel that leads to
the main river. Travel approximately 100 yards from the canoe launch
and turn left (downstream). You will quickly pass under a small,
but high bridge. From this point, the river narrows and proceeds
beneath cypress, hardwood hammock and oak trees that provide welcome
shade. Along the Alafia, the banks are generally several feet high
and heavily vegetated, making it difficult to land or launch.
The river is fairly swift (1 to 4 MPH depending on water levels),
with several small sets of whitewater rapids created by limestone
shoals in the river. At very low water levels these become difficult
to pass without bottoming out and at high water you might not notice
them. However, if the water is just right, you'll experience up
to 10 sets of class 1 whitewater rapids. Of course, compared to
any state north of 30 degrees latitude it's not much, but for Florida,
the whitewater is great.
Please note: If the Alafia is flowing fast (over 3 MPH), especially
after heavy rains and flooding, this is no place for a beginner.
You're sure to encounter numerous deadfalls, strainers and in general
you'll be paddling through the trees. Tight turns further complicate
At approximately 10 miles into the trip, the river passes under
the bridge at Lithia Pinecrest Road. This will be the first sign
of modern civilization during the trip. Another mile downriver on
the right-hand side is the Alafia River Canoe Rental dock. The take-out
at Lithia Springs County Park is located another mile down river,
just past the campground and before a large white pipe running over
Tour #2: Lithia Springs
Want to add another mile to the trip? From the Lithia Springs County
Park canoe launch, go downstream to where Lithia Springs empties
into the river. The confluence is about 1/2 mile from the canoe
launch. It is noticeably marked by the crystal-clear spring water
hitting the tea-colored Alafia. On the spring run, a small green
fence marks the boundary of the spring. Stay downstream of the fence
and the lifeguards on duty at the spring won't need to chase you
out of the park. Paddle back upriver 1/2 mile to the canoe launch
to finish your trip.
Special Interest: Lithia Springs Park
The 160 acre Hillsborough County Lithia Springs Park is located
on the Alafia River south of Brandon and Plant City. The park's
major attraction is a natural spring that provides excellent swimming
and relaxing in 72 degree year-round waters. The park offers camping
at 40 sites, most of them shaded and all with electricity and water.
Also located in the park are a bath house, playground and picnic
The springs consist of two pools, each flowing into the Alafia
River. The larger spring is oval shaped and approximately 75 to
100 ft in diameter and approximately 16 feet deep. The smaller spring
is located 100 feet southeast of the larger spring and discharges
directly into the Alafia River. The total outflow of both springs
is said to be about 24 million gallons per day. Hours of operation
are 8am to 7pm Monday-Sunday. Water attractions close one hour before
Bridge just past
Aldermans Ford Park.
The gently sloping bank makes
a nice place to rest.
| GPS Location Aid
|Aldermans Ford Park
|Alafia River Canoe
|Lithia Springs Park