This past weekend we were blessed enough to be given a beautiful morning/afternoon with friends so it seemed only right to cap it off with some exploring!
The drive to the Hillsborough River State Park was gorgeous! Beautiful deep blue skies and white puffy clouds the entire way. We felt really lucky to be given such a great day to venture out.
Upon our arrival I was surprised to see there is a $6 per car parking fee (I’m usually better at finding this information out prior) but they took cards so we were saved.
If I can recommend anything for your visit it would be really, REALLY good mosquito spray. I’ve dealt with some pesky ones before but these took an award after going in my hat and behind my ears to get the tiny bit of non-chemical covered skin. I think I ate some mosquito spray in desperation, but hey it’s Florida, lesson learned.
A few of the trails were closed for the Mud Run the day of our visit and due to a late arrival we only had a chance to explore a small portion of these ever winding trails.
After just a quarter of a mile light rain began to fall. Not a drop hit us at this point due to the canopy of trees above our heads. The sound was magical! We arrived at the landing over the rapids and since leaving Pennsylvania, I haven’t seen anything like this. I missed it so!
Stopping to admire the strong currents opened us up to slightly heavier rains with no coverage. We waited it out under a nearby pavillion and eventually it stopped allowing us to move on down the trail.
There was a jungle like feeling to this place with the barely there showers coming and going and overgrown greenery surrounding us. On one side the river flowed and boardwalk style bridges carried us through breaks in the trail. Looking out into the river we found large alligators at rest in the rain. Some laid about out of the water while others seemingly motionless only showed their heads.
A few trails lead to pathways down for closer views of the water but I urge you to use caution when going because you are only visiting, alligators live there.
By this time we had crossed a few bridges and split off into other trails when the skies opened up and rain began to pour down on us. As i put my camera away for protection I smiled as I lingered behind my boys. It felt so good to be out and I was so grateful for this moment regardless of the weather. I watched as their feet marched on down the trail now muddy and splashing with each step. I noticed how our son was the leader and he looked so grown without a complaint on his tongue. I may have received this moment without the rain, but I believe the rain made it better.
After a few minutes of this hard rain we ducked under the suspension bridge to check equipment and access what we needed to do. It wasn’t slowing and our bags were only waterproof to an extent so we decided to head back to the parking area and leave the exploring for another day. We hurried along very wet at this point and surprised to find so many other smiling faces making their way through the trails.
Arriving at the car we were able to dry off and giggle about our wet adventure. On the drive out through the park two deer ran out across the street, another site I have missed since leaving PA.
Friends are great for our wellbeing in many ways and thanks to ours we were inspired to take this memorable afternoon adventuring and counting our blessings.
Thanks for reading,
Mandy- Wild Red
Side note: Today marks 2 years since we took that leap of faith and moved to Florida from Pennsylvania. Time to celebrate! Have a wonderful weekend!