Tampa Bay Park
|Distance: 6.5 miles
round trip Nature Center to railroad bridge.
|Atlas: Page 91 A-1
|Last Update: May 2006
||Canoe OK: Yes
Upper Tampa Bay Park is a 2,144 acre county park and preserve located
in western Hillsborough County. The primary feature of the park
is a 600 acre peninsula on Old Tampa Bay. The land in and surrounding
the park was home to Florida Indian tribes before the coming of
Europeans. For the observant paddler or hiker, Native American shell
mounds can be seen at several locations throughout the park.
Walt at railroad bridge.
| The park features a variety of salt and freshwater
kayaking opportunities. Salt marsh grasses, mangrove trees and
Old Tampa Bay are an easy 1.25 mile paddle to the south of the
Nature Center. Heading north from the Nature Center on Double
Branch Creek, you can find brackish water, oyster bars, pine
flatwoods, scattered freshwater ponds and an occasional trailer
From Tampa; take SR 580 (Hillsborough Avenue) west from Dale Mabry
Blvd to Double Branch Road. Go south to the park entrance (approximately
1/2 mile). Follow the twisty park road to the Nature Center. A canoe
launch is located on the east side of the Nature Center. Access
to the park is free, but donations to support "Friends of the
Park" are accepted at the entrance.
Boat, Paddle, PFD
Map or Chart
Salt, Fresh & Brackish Water
Tour: Nature Center to Railroad Bridge (6.5 miles)
The trip to the railroad bridge is quite interesting and has some
areas that are very picturesque. It is important to make this trip
to coincide with high tide. At low tide the tidal influenced creek
is shallow and the oyster bars will be unmerciful on your kayak.
The complete trip will take about 2 1/2 hours.
To begin, head south (right) from the canoe launch. Follow the
mangrove trail south then east until reaching the main channel of
Double Branch Creek. Turn north (left) on Double Branch at the white
marker pole. Continue north until you reach the bridge at Hillsborough
Avenue. Immediately to the north of the bridge the river forks.
Here you paddle past trailer park #1. Take the left branch of the
Approximately 1/3 mile north is a bridge where Old Memorial Highway
passes over the river. At high tide the clearance is less than 3
feet so you'll have the opportunity to do the kayak limbo. If you're
unfamiliar with the concept, slide down into the kayak as low as
you can go. Push along the bottom of the bridge with your hands.
Assuming you survive passing under the bridge (or porting over),
the river heads east for a few hundred yards.
Trailer park #2 quickly passes as the river begins to snake east
and west several times. Once you leave trailer park #3, the scenery
is very nice all the way to the railroad bridge. This point on the
railroad is situated between Countryway Blvd (east) and Race Track
Retrace your steps heading south to return to the Nature Center
at Upper Tampa Bay Park.
Bonus: North of the railroad bridge the
creek once again forks with the left branch going to the Tampa Bay
Downs horse race track and the right branch entering the Countryway
housing development. On both routes the creek will get too narrow
to paddle within 1/2 mile.
Special Interest: UTBP Nature Center
An excellent Nature Center is operated jointly between the county
and Hillsborough Community College. The center is open to the public
between 8am and 6pm seven days a week. It features saltwater aquariums,
reptiles, maps, history and hands-on exhibits for the kids. Also
located in the park are picnicking and restroom facilities, hiking
trails and a playground for the kids.
Paddling mangrove waterways.
Double Branch Creek.
| GPS Location Aid
|Old Memorial Hwy Bridge
|Entrance to Tampa Bay