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Kayaking The Hillsborough River of Central Florida

Updated on October 10, 2017
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.


If you're looking for a little outdoor adventure on your next trip to central Florida why not consider a canoe or kayak trip down the Hillsborough River. Located just sixteen miles from downtown Tampa and fifteen minutes from Busch Gardens lies the meandering Hillsborough River. Starting in the Green Swamp, the Hillsborough River winds through two counties before ending its journey into Tampa Bay. Along the way the river passes through the Hillsborough River State Park, which occupies over three thousand acres along the rivers banks.

Hillsborough River State Park opened in 1938, making it one of the oldest state parks in Florida. The river attracts kayaker's and canoeists who are looking to bond with nature as they take a relaxing trip down the river.


Canoe Escape

If you are visiting the area you can rent a kayak or canoe through Canoe Escape, an outfitter that has been providing tours on the Hillsborough River for over twenty five years. This family owned business takes great pride in providing environmentally friendly paddling experiences on the Hillsborough River. They offer self-guided downstream trips, hourly rentals, and interpretive guided nature tours along the Hillsborough River. For a great outdoor experience give them a call.

Canoe Escape

  • John B. Sargeant Park
  • 12702 U.S. 301
  • Thonotosassa, FL. 33592
  • 813-986-2067

Hours: Opens at 9 a.m. daily. Last rental is at 3:30 p.m.

Rates vary depending on whether you are renting a double or single kayak/canoe.

Interpretive guided tours are available in groups every Wednesday starting at 11:00 a.m. Private tours are also available on your schedule and must be reserved at least 48 hours in advance.

For a really special event Canoe Escape offers a moonlight, guided tour that will explore 5-miles of the river. Call ahead for reservations and available dates.


I can't say enough about our experience on the Hillsborough River. You are truly transformed to another world, a wilderness wonderland away from the hustle and bustle of the Tampa Bay area. It was astounding the amount and variety of wildlife that we saw during our trip down the river. We encountered numerous alligators, countless turtles, a barred owl, hawks, a very large water moccasin, egret, ibis, anhinga and blue heron. This is just a small sampling of the wildlife you may encounter on your outing. All this during a half day, self-guided trip down the river. And if sharing a river with alligators concerns you be assured that they keep to themselves and Canoe Escape has never had an incident. If your looking for a truly unique outdoor experience while you're in the Tampa Bay area check out the Hillsborough River and the folks at Canoe Escape.

Ahinga | Source
Turtle | Source
Barred Owl - can you see it?
Barred Owl - can you see it?
Alligator | Source
A markerJohn B. Sargeant Park, Thonotosassa, FL -
Thonotosassa, FL, USA
get directions

© 2012 Bill De Giulio


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    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank You. I'm new to HubPages but getting the hang of it and also getting addicted to it.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Sounds like a great adventure for anyone who enjoys kayaking and nature.

      I loved the photos and the way you wrote this hub made it feel like you were talking to the reader as a trusted, well-informed friend.

      Welcome to Hub Pages. Voted up across the board except for funny.