Information on the following trails/routes below: Flatwoods, Upper Tampa Bay Trail, Morris Bridge, Trout Creek, Lake Rogers Park, Ballast Point Park, Temple Terrace, Bayshore, Al Lopez, Temple Terrace, Croom.
Maps to these and other trails.
Click here to find maps of Croom. Croom, located in Withlacoochee State Forest is about an hour north of Tampa via I-75. It you don’t mind driving an hour, the payoff is a huge well-marked trail system of varying terrain and surprising elevation change. If you go there, be sure to check with the park service or rangers because during some parts of the year the trails are open for hunting and closed for running/hiking. Three races are held at Croom every year, the John Holmes Run in October, the Croom Zoom in January, and the Croom Fools Run in April.
Be warned, though. This is a huge area in the Withlacoochee National Forest. While the trails are well marked. It would be a bad idea to venture out there alone, assuming you could find your way. It’s still easy to get lost, and you are far from civilization. Run with a group, and make sure someone in the group knows the trails. There are separate trails and trail markings for hikers/runners, bikers, motorcycles, and horses. It can get confusing, for sure.
You’ll see deer, armadillos, snakes, and wild boars.
Upper Tampa Bay Trail
This is a 7-mile asphalt paved trail with only two cross streets. Water kiosks about every 1.5 to 2 miles, public restrooms at Peterson Park Trailhead at the north end, at Linebaugh Avenue underpass on Upper Tampa Bay Trail Wilsky Rd. Trailhead, and at the Channel Park Trailhead, which is .5mi. west of Sheldon Rd on Waters Avenue. Flat course except for overpass over Gunn Hwy. and two underpasses. Miles are marked every half mile. As arrow indicate, everyone – bikers, runners, walkers, skaters – is to keep to the right unless passing. There are emergency numbers on the asphalt to reference in the event of an emergency. There is a $2 per car park fee at trailheads.
Access: There is a parking lot just east of where the trail crosses Ehrlich Rd. (near Ballyhoo’s Restaurant). There is a parking lot (and restrooms) at the Wilsky Trailhead, which is .1mi. north of Linebaugh on Wilsky Rd. You will find a very large parking lot, water fountain, restrooms and ranger station at the Channel Park Trailhead, which is just a half mile west of Sheldon on Waters Avenue across the street from the Northwest YMCA. The trail crosses under Waters Avenue at that point. One last place to access the trail is at its southern terminus just south of Alonso High School on Montague. There is a small parking lot there and another water kiosk. No restroom. Map — 7.56 miles
Lake Rogers Park
9010 N. Mobley Road, Odessa, FL 33556
272 acres, 2 lakes, open 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Two water kiosks on the main 2.1 mile loop. Loop is off road trail, mostly shaded, varying terrain. Some elevation change. Lake Rogers Park Trail off North Mobley Road. Pine needles, bark chips, sand, a few roots. More strenuous than Lake Park or the Northwest Equestrian Trail. Miles are marked every quarter mile.
Canoe launch, fishing, hiking, picnic areas, picnic shelters, campsites, port-a-johns at entrance and one on the trail. $2 per car park fee.
17302 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Lutz, FL 33549
One of the oldest and most developed parks in the area. Two playgrounds. Two sets of restrooms. Very flat. This park can be accessed via a trail from the back of Northdale. $2 park fee
(both loops) Map — 2.5 miles
600-acre park with 5 lakes, canoeing, fishing, picnic shelters, archery range, equestrian facilities, BMX track, playgrounds, RC car track, restrooms
Al Lopez (Outer loop only). This park is centrally located, bordered by Dale Mabry on the west, Himes on the east, Hillsborough on the north, and MLK on the south. The main trail is a wide asphalt one, but there are also off-road trails.
Public bathrooms, water fountains, a community center, covered picnic tables, dog park, recently renovated playground, fishing, soccer field, bat house, par course, Cancer Survivor Plaza. Many 5k races are held here throughout the year. See the Run Tampa Calendar. Map — 1.83 miles
Wilderness Parks in North Tampa northeast of the USF area (includes Flatwoods, Trout Creek, and Morris Bridge Parks)
Flatwoods Park in New Tampa/Thonotosassa – 14302 Morris Bridge Rd., Thonotosassa, FL 33592 (also accessible from Bruce B. Downs Rd.) 813.987.6211
People often say Flatwoods when they are actually referring to a group of parks in close proximity and connected by a massive trail network. The parks include Dead River, Flatwoods, John B. Sargeant, Morris Bridge, and Trout Creek Park. Several maps here. Total acreage is 17,000 acres. Public restrooms, hiking, on and off road biking, fishing, canoeing, picnicking, boardwalk, nature trails.
It is possible to run from park to park on trails that connect the parks and make a loop that is about 13 to 15 miles, depending on your choice of trails and whether you run on the 7-mile paved Flatwoods loop or run through the middle. Obviously, many much shorter runs are possible. There are water kiosks on the paved loop in Flatwoods, and there are drinking fountains at some of the other parks, but it’s advisable to carry your own water when running off road, and besides that paved loop, all trails are off road.
There is also an outdoor bike wash/hose, which for us runners is a shower, at Flatwoods and Trout Creek.
For a brief two-mile run, park at Trout Creek Park on Fletcher and take the Bayshore trail that goes south around two small lakes until it runs into the entrance road just north of the entrance to the park on Fletcher. Coconut Grove is a little trail that parallels the main Trout Creek trail close to the end. Great little trail, very intense (just the Coconut Grove trail) on a mountain bike but not bad for a runner and very beautiful.
For a longer run from Trout Creek, run west to the berm/levee, up on the berm, run north just a little bit on the berm until you see a little trail going down into the woods on your right. That is the Main Trail that will take you to the 7-mile paved loop at Flatwoods. If you turn around when you get to the paved loop and return, that will be about four miles altogether.
For longer mileage from Trout Creek, follow the Main Trail as described above, to the loop. Then, if you want to continue off road and run through the center of the Flatwoods Loop (see map), go left on the asphalt loop until you see where it enters the woods to your right; you will be on the asphalt loop for only maybe 1/10 mi. before re-entering the woods. There is a little bridge where the trail enters the middle of the Flatwoods loop. Then the trail twists and turns right through the middle of the loop. The trails are marked and numbers. The numbers count down as you proceed through the loop from the Trout Creek end of the Main Trail toward the Y Kiosk which is at the Morris Bridge end of the paved loop.
There are many mountain-bikers, so I strongly recommend against headphones on any of these trails. At the very least, use only one ear bud. If bikers pass, always tell them if there is another runner or more behind you. They will usually do the same.
You may see deer, armadillos, snakes and wild turkeys. Wild pigs and board are out there, too, but you seldom see them.
Map — The 7-mile asphalt loop at Flatwoods. It can be accessed from Morris Bridge Road or Bruce B. Downs, but many more off road trails are within the loop and extending out from the loop.
Hole in the Fence – The entrance to these trails is directly across the street from Trout Creek on Fletcher/Morris Bridge Road. (Fletcher turns into Morris Bridge Road.) on the west end.
Map — 10.58 miles, mostly on streets adjacent to golf course. Starts at Temple Terrace Elementary.
Bayshore Boulevard Linear Park Some say this is the longest continual sidewalk in the United States. Whether it is or not, it’s one of the longest, for sure, and it offers a beautiful view of the bay and the downtown skyline. Start downtown and you can run ten miles to picturesque Ballast Point Park at the other end. There is one water fountain along the way, and there are public restrooms at Ballast Point Park. The Bayshore is where the world famous Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, 5K, marathon, and half marathon are run in February of each year (March in ’09).
Ballast Point Park to Platt St Bridge
If you want to map out one of your favorite routes? Go to Gmap-Pedometer.com.
If you have a favorite route you’d like to share, please send it along.