West Coast FL State/County Parks

Discussion in 'Florida' started by nhlakes, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    Any comments on Little Manatee River vs. Hillsborough River State Parks over by Tampa? Or others in the area? We'll be spending a couple of weeks in FL soon and we're considering spending a few days over by Tampa.
     
  2. thelmuth

    thelmuth Member

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    We have not been to Little Manatee, but have been to Hillsborough a couple times. The mosquitoes can be really bad at times and some of the sites can be wet after a rain. They have a really cool free form swimming pool, shaped like a pond, and sometimes they have an interpretive tour of Fort Foster from the second Seminole Indian War. The river itself is a dark, tannin stained water and not recommended to swim in because of alligators. They have canoe and kayak rentals. The bathhouses are in OK condition and kept clean by volunteers.

    We had reservations there this summer, but they were cancelled due to flooding from the Hurricane.
     
  3. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    Thanks thelmuth. Yesterday we wound up finalizing most of our trip and due to hoping to meet some friends in SE FL we decided to, yet again, save the west coast for another trip.

    I just changed the title of this thread to encourage some additional suggestions for the west coast for next time around. Heading south on Monday! ;)
     
  4. equest

    equest Member

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    I have been to Little Manatee. I found the park to be quiet and the restrooms well maintained and clean. There is not much to do aside from kayaking or canoeing, but it is a peaceful location and also convenient to in town amenities.
     
  5. ddperser

    ddperser New Member

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    Silver Lake Recreation Area

    Camping, hiking, canoeing, & fishing . . .
    This area was GREAT! Lots of privacy from site to site (some more than others depending on which site you get). It is the farthest camping area of the Silver Lake Recreation Area. The first two are camper & tent camping with water & electric; Crooked River is tent camping only, no electric, but with water at each site.

    SITES - We were at Site 66 - no site across from it & to its right was an open field about 1/3 the size of a football field with two covered picnic tables - it is NOT a camping site. Not sure what its purpose is since Crooked River is a camping area & no day use allowed; but this open field provided more privacy since no one can camp to your right. Site 65 was to the left, but there was enough space & dense growth to provide plenty of privacy.

    Each site has a fire ring with a movable grill & an uncovered picnic table.

    TIP: secure food, etc. First night there We didn't secure the cooler (2nd night I pushed it underneath seat of picnic table). Came out first morning to discover we fed raccoons who were able to open the unsecured cooler & help themselves to a package of bologna & hot dogs - found the evidence (empty packages) not far from the cooler.

    Other sites are closer together but all together all the sites seem to have lots of space & each site had its own water faucet.

    SLEEPING - The first two camping areas at Silver Lake Recreation Area, Silver Lake Campground & Cypress Glen Campground, are close to I-75; Crooked River is not. So you can't hear the I-75 traffic but for the engine braking of a rogue 18-wheeler every now & then. Even the aircraft we saw - either headed to or from Tampa International Airport - was high enough not to produce noise we could hear. Nighttime was pleasantly quiet.

    FISHING - we were quite close to the Withlacoochee River; it flows north into Silver Lake, then continues north to other camping & day-use areas. It was less than a 2-minute walk from our site. We saw a few people canoeing & we fished; didn't catch anything, but we got some bites. Saw turtles & a 5'-6' gator. Someone else we saw fishing told us the waters contain crappie, bluegill, catfish, mud fish, & bass. Water was cool & clear, but bottom is dark, so can't see much.

    CANOEING - we didn't but watched others who did. Nice area to launch & retrieve.

    HIKING - we hiked with the two grandkids (5 & 7) along an old road parallel with the main loop from Site 66, then the trail turns away from the camping area towards the river. It is a well-worn trail through dense forest & marked. If you follow it all the way to the end, you end up at a U-Turn in the river where it opens up to a nice sandy area. Very beautiful. Toward the latter part of the hike, you can even see the river on your left & your right as you hike along the trail. It only took 15 minutes to hike all the way; then 15 minutes back. So a nice 30-minute hike.

    There are other hiking trails, but we didn't explore them.

    FIREWOOD - not much around so better take your own. We were there for two nights & most of Sunday & used almost a trash-can amount of split oak.

    OTHER CAMPERS' BEHAVIOR - quiet time is 10, but people began to really quieten down 'round 10:30 PM. While we where there, two separate Boy Scout troops were group camping & it was still nice.

    RESTROOM & SHOWER FACILITIES - [men's] Two urinals, two toilet stalls, & two shower stalls. HOT water in which to shower - how wonderful is that! But bring your own soap; there was none provided neither for showering nor for hand-washing. We also cheated & had a self-contained marine porta pottie with us - a MUST for those with small children; otherwise, you're walking to the restrooms often, but they're not too far away.

    CAMP HOST - we only saw him on the Sunday we left-not a problem with us. We saw the forest ranger ride through at least once every day. When we did speak to the camp host, he was very friendly & he & his wife were walking with trash bags & picking up trash as they found it along the loop.

    We really enjoyed it & will be back again. I recommend for those who need no electricity & want a true tent-camping experience.
     

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