FL - Little Manatee River Alafia River - 2003/01/26



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There are official Florida Canoe Trails on both the Alafia and Little Manatee Rivers southeast of Tampa Florida. The rivers are small and the distances short with moderate development on the banks.







I had planned to kayak either the Alafia or Little Manatee River, but after my tiring encounter with the Seventeen Runs on the Hillsborough River I got a late start the next day. After driving to the Little Manatee River State Park and finding a small river with a short mileage trip, I decided to take a day of rest and prepare for the next trip - an overnight on the Peace River.



From the Florida Greenways site:
Little Manatee River Canoe Trail
The Little Manatee River Canoe Trail is officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. Only 25 miles from Tampa, this dark, tannin-stained trail has a sandy bottom and steep, sandy banks. Along the beautiful Little Manatee River, you will paddle through a variety of habitats including sand pine scrub, willow swampy, and hardwood forest. Look for otter, alligator, and turtles along the trail. You might even see an eagle soaring overhead. The trail ends at Little Manatee River State Park on the south bank.






Major Activities

Counties: Hillsborough

Mileage: 5

Skill Level: Beginner

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Usual Current: Slow (0-1 mph) to average (2-3 mph)

Notes and Precautions
Water levels can fluctuate rapidly following heavy rains. Check for local conditions before beginning. The river is also influenced by tides. You can extend the trip by beginning at the Leonard Lee Road Bridge south of SR 674 (moderate to difficult trip – tight curves). An optional ending is at Wildcat Creek Park on Stephens Road east of US 41 (moderate trip – distance).

Access
    1. US 301 Bridge – 4.5 miles southeast of SR 674 on US 301.
    2. Little Manatee River State Park – From US 301, 0.3 miles west on Lightfoot Road to recreation area. (Check with ranger station) (5 miles)

There may be access points (both public and private) in addition to those listed here. Please remember that some sites require a fee for launching and/or parking.
Alafia River Canoe Trail
The Alafia River Canoe Trail is officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. This river, located an hour from downtown Tampa, is a narrow, twisting trail that begins at Alderman's Ford County Park. Large oak, cypress and cedar trees line the banks and form a canopy overhead. Paddlers share the peace and quiet with wading birds and turtles. The Alafia is a fairly swift river, especially for central Florida, and some small shoals are exposed in low water. The shoals are not dangerous, but do require some paddling skill.




Counties: Hillsborough
Mileage:
13
Skill Level:
Beginner to intermediate
Difficulty:
Easy to strenuous (depending on water level)
Usual Current:
Slow (0-1 mph) to swift (4+ mph), depending on water level.
Notes and Precautions

Alafia River paddling conditions are changeable. The degree of difficulty depends on water level. At normal levels, paddling is easy, but as water level rises, current increases and paddling becomes more strenuous. No parking is permitted at CR 640 Bridge or at Bell Shoals Road access; you must arrange for pick-up.

Access

    1. Alderman's Ford County Park – On Thompson Road, a half block west of CR 39, one mile north of Lithia.
    2. CR 640 Bridge – Six miles southeast of Brandon. (9 miles) No Parking
    3. Lithia Springs County Park – One mile east on Lithia Springs Road, off CR 640. (1 mile)
    4. Bell Shoals Road Bridge – Off Bell Shoals Rd. one block south of Fish Hawk Blvd. (3 miles) No Parking.

There may be access points (both public and private) in addition to those listed here. Please remember that some sites require a fee for launching and/or parking.
USGS Water Gauge Lithia

USGS Water Gauge Bell Shoals


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EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


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