Trout Creek Park is part of the Wilderness Parks System in the northeast part of Hillsborough County, just northeast of USF. Take I-75 to the Fletcher/Morris Bridge exit and go east less than a mile. The park entrance will be on your left.
To get to the parking lot, you’ll follow a one-mile entrance road that follows along next to the raised berm on your left. The trails of Trout Creek will be to your right.
Adjacent to the large parking lot are restrooms, water fountain, bike wash, and picnic tables.
From the parking lot, you have several choices:
- Run on the Trout Creek trails. These are beautiful and many have very few roots (however, Bayshore is very rooty). Unfortunately, altogether, you’ll only get in about 1.5 miles if you stay on trails in Trout Creek.
- The more common option is to take the dirt trail up to the berm (levee), which is hard-packed dirt, great running surface. If you go north, you’ll cross over the Hillsborough River. Then you’ll be in Flatwoods. The berm goes north for 2 miles, eventually reaching the entrance road that connects the Bruce B Downs entrance to Flatwoods and the Flatwoods loop. At that point, you’ll be one mile from the Bruce B Downs parking lot, if you go left, and one mile from the Four Corners Kiosk, which is where you hit the 7-mile paved loop, if you go right.
- Many people prefer to either run trails or run on the trail for a mile to take a short cut to the paved Flatwoods loop. If you want the shortest route to the paved loop, there is a trail that drops down into the woods. Take that trail, and it will take you to the loop. The total mileage from the Trout Creek parking lot to the paved loop is 1.8 miles, and the trails are nice, not too rooty. Turn around there or you can do whatever mileage you want and later return the way you came for a nice long run.
- If you’re looking for a trail run, only, you’re in luck. When you get to the loop, mentioned in #3, above, go left on the paved loop for about a tenth of a mile. At that point, you’ll see a trail that goes into the center of the loop. Take that trail. If you stay on that trail through the center of the paved Flatwoods loop, it’s about 5 miles of varied terrain, some rooty sections, some long relatively flat sections, no elevation change. This is known as the Main, and it is bisected many times by dual track fire roads, breaking it into short sections. The only challenge is not accidentally losing your way on a fire road and ending up back out on the paved loop. Just follow the trail markers. Each has a number on it, and they count down. Sometimes you’ll come to a fire road and all you need to do is cross it and pick up the Main on the other side. Often, though, you’ll need to turn one way or the other on the fire road and run a little ways and then pick up the Main as it turns off the fire road. As a rule, when the Main runs into a fire road, there’ll be an arrow on the trail marker indicating which way to turn on the fire road.
The good thing is that even if you were to take a wrong turn, you’re in the middle of a 7-mile paved loop. You may unexpectedly end up on the loop, but at least then you’ll know where you are. A word of caution, though: Make sure you know which direction to go on the paved trail to get to where you want to go.
- For a very long trail run, consider taking the Main through all of the Wilderness Parks. They all connect to give you a nice 14 mile loop of trails.