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Difficulty: Basic Scenery: Good
Location: Oldsmar,
Hillsborough County
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.

Tampa Bay;UTBP;railroad bridge.
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 park.


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.

Important Items

Boat, Paddle, PFD
Insect Repellent
Map or Chart


Salt, Fresh & Brackish Water
Oyster Bars
Pine Flatwoods
Coastal Wetlands

Tampa Bay;UTBP;Mobbly Bay.
Mobbly Bay.

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 river.

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 Road (west).

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.

Tampa Bay;UTBP;Mangrove Waterways.
Paddling mangrove waterways.
Tampa Bay;UTBP;Double Branch Creek.
Double Branch Creek.

GPS Location Aid


Nature Center
Canoe Launch
Old Memorial Hwy Bridge
Low Clearance
Railroad Bridge
Entrance to Tampa Bay
Oyster Bar