15 Scenic Hiking Trails in Tampa (Beginners + Advanced)

Nicola Curtis writer bio photo

Enjoying the city is one thing, but every now and again, it’s always good to get out into nature and breathe in some fresh air. The good news is, that many hiking trails in Tampa allow you to do just that. Even better is that most are ideal for beginners – if I can do it, anyone can. Hiking is one of the top things to do in Tampa, there’s a trail for everyone.

Hiking in Tampa, Florida wasn’t on my radar until I’d visited the city a few times already. But then I realized that there was so much to explore outside of the city itself. So, a friend suggested we go hiking for the day, and I’m so glad I agreed.

There are many hiking trails within, and just outside, the city and they all show you the beauty of the area from previously unseen perspectives. From wildlife to wild coastal views, shady tree canopies to endless green, you should certainly make time for a little walking during your visit.

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15 Best Hikes in Tampa

A family having a quick hike

There are more hiking trails in Tampa than you might realize, and that’s where some insider knowledge comes in very useful. Since my first introduction to hiking in the area, I’ve completed countless trails, and I’ve narrowed down my favorites for you in this post.

You’ll find trails for beginners and intermediate walkers, coastal views, nature, wildlife, and treks with plenty of facilities along the way. If you’re looking for great places to visit in the United States for hiking, consider the walks around the Tampa area. The only thing you need to do is work out which one you’ll take first.

1. Tampa Riverwalk (Best for New Arrivals to Tampa)

A riverwalk in Tampa

You might not consider it a trek, but it’s quite long and therefore falls into the ‘walking trails in Tampa’ category. The Riverwalk spans 7.7km and takes you along the edge of the Hillsborough River, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Downtown from a calm distance. It offers plenty of space to rest and take a seat when you need a break.

You’ll pass through six green parks, and there are attractions along the way such as museums and restaurants. In essence, you might not even feel like you’re on a trek, but your legs will definitely burn by the end of the day.

The Riverwalk is easily accessible for those in a wheelchair and families with strollers. It can get a little busy at certain times of the day but early in the morning and later in the day you can often walk without hindrance. For me, this is the best trail for people who have just arrived and want to get their bearings.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Channelside/Downtown Tampa. Click here for more information.
Length: 7.7km/4.8 miles
Duration: 1.5 hours without stopping, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied along the way – take your time
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 16 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, couples

2. Courtney Campbell Causeway West Trail (Best for Coastal Views)

A scenic view of the coast

This was the first trail I completed, and it’s what gave me a thirst for more hiking trails in Tampa. The views along the walk are beautiful, stretching right over the bay and beyond. If you’re a bird lover, you’ll notice many species of birds make an appearance along the way, and there are places you can stop and observe them and their movements.

If you’re looking for easy hikes around Tampa that give you plenty of wow factor moments, I’d recommend this one. It’s a relatively simple hike, although quite long; you’ll encounter many other people running and cycling too. The hike is also family-friendly as it’s quite flat and there are plenty of open spaces to run.

Look back over the cityscape from the edge of the shoreline and admire the scenery. This is definitely a hike with plenty of photo opportunities. There are many hikes that make for great day trips around Tampa.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Courtney Campbell Causeway. Click here for more information.
Length: 25.9km/16 miles
Duration: 4.5 hours
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 17 meters
Best For: Runners, families, beginners, dog owners (dogs must be on a leash)

3. Bayshore Boulevard (Best for Runners)

Bayshore Street Sign

If you don’t want to walk, and perhaps prefer to run and get plenty of exercise, this is one of the best Tampa trails for you. That being said, you don’t have to run; Bayshore Boulevard is a great spot to walk slowly and take your time.

You’ll pass along the edge of the Hillsborough River, and there are plenty of spots to sit and take a rest. The paved area is quite wide, so people can easily pass you if you’re walking and they’re running. I enjoyed this trail, and it was a welcome break from the noise of Downtown.

You can take your dog on this walk if you choose, but they must be on a leash at all times. It’s not the best option for families as there isn’t a lot of free space for children to run, and the water’s edge could be a little nerve-wracking.

Trail Details and Information

Location: 10 minutes outside of Downtown. Click here for more information.
Length: 13.5km/8.4 miles
Duration: 2.5 hours
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 9 meters
Best For: Runners, cyclists, beginners

4. Al Lopez Park Trail (Best for Dog Owners)

Going on a park trail with the dog

I loved my time on the Al Lopez Park Trail because it felt like I was in a country park, far away from the city. This is one of the best hiking trails in Tampa for dog owners, as there’s plenty of open space, so you’re not unlikely to encounter a lot of other dogs in a small area.

The river runs through the middle of the park with picturesque wooden bridges crossing over, framed by cascading trees. I did this trek when it was a little rainy, and it was still really enjoyable; the smell of the trees in the air was so refreshing.

You’ll find picnic beaches throughout the park, and it’s a good spot for those pushing strollers or wheelchair users. If you’re looking for trekking in Tampa opportunities as a beginner, I’d suggest you give this one a try.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Al Lopez Park, 15 minutes from Downtown. Click here for more information.
Length: 1.8km/1 mile
Duration: 20 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 1 meter
Best For: Beginners, families, quick walks, dog owners

5. Flatwoods Loop Trail (Best for Beginners)

The sun piercing through the shade of the trees.

This is one of the best places to hike in Tampa for beginners. The complete trail is a little long, but it’s doable in a few hours, and you don’t have to walk all of it if you don’t want to. The scenery is also beautiful, with countless trees and the freshest air possible.

I did this trail during the winter months, and it was such a revitalizing change from being surrounded by traffic. It’s a semi-busy trail, so you will see other people, but it’s never overly crowded. It’s also paved all the way so is ideal for strollers and wheelchairs.

If you’re doing the trail during the summer months, you’ll find many water stations around the edge, so make sure you rehydrate whenever you can.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Flatwoods Wilderness Park. Click here for more information.
Length: 17.7km/11 miles
Duration: 3 hours 10 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 18 meters
Best For: Beginners and families

6. Lettuce Lake Park Boardwalk (Best for Pushing a Stroller)

Parents on a boardwalk with their babies on strollers

If you’re looking for Tampa walking trails that will keep little ones occupied, this is a great choice. There’s an observation tower halfway around which kids will love exploring, and the views are fantastic. It’s also paved the whole way around, so another trail that’s suitable for strollers.

I spotted quite a lot of wildlife on this trail, and if you’re into bird watching, you’ll really enjoy this spot. However, this park does close during bad weather, especially in winter, so it’s best to check online before you set out for the day.

It’s also a very easy trail to complete and only takes a short amount of time. In that case, you can wander slowly and stop for a picnic.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Lettuce Lake Regional Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 1km/0.6 miles
Duration: 11 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 2 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, quick walk, wildlife

7. Eureka Springs Boardwalk (Best for Relaxation)

Hiking in the middle of the day

They say that when you’re around nature, you can’t help but relax. That’s exactly how I’d describe this trek. Not only are you surrounded by lush greenery at every turn but it’s a top Tampa trek for fauna and flora enthusiasts.

If you drive into this park before starting the trail, you’ll need to pay a small charge per vehicle, however, there’s plenty of parking available. This is one of the hiking trails in Tampa that’s suitable for complete beginners because it’s short and flat. Despite it being very easy to complete, it has a lot to keep you occupied along the way.

For me, the best thing to do is enjoy being Mother Nature’s arms. This trail might be short, but it’s a fantastic way to unwind.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Eureka Springs Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 0.8km/0.5 miles
Duration: 10 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 1 meter
Best For: Beginners, quick walks, nature

8. Lizards Tail (Best for Wild Views)

A man walking on a wet trail

If you want to challenge yourself on one of the hikes in Tampa, I’d suggest Lizards Tail. You can visit this area all year round, but it’s simply beautiful during the summer months. You’ll need comfortable shoes for this one and in the summer, a hat, and plenty of sun lotion and water.

You’ll make your way through lush, forested areas and swampland – (while there aren’t any reports of alligator issues here, I don’t recommend you get in the water). However, you will see lots of different wildflowers, which make for wonderful photographs.

The good news is that the trees offer a good amount of shade as you move along the trail and it’s marked clearly as you go.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Cypress Creek Reserve. Click here for more information.
Length: 6.4km/4 miles
Duration: 1.5 hours
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 7 meters
Best For: Intermediate hikers, wildlife

9. Upper Tampa Bay Eagle Trail (Best for Wildlife)

High Trees on a trail

This is one of the best hikes around Tampa for checking out wildlife, in particular, birdwatching. It’s a pretty easy walk, and the ground is made up of wooden boards, which can sometimes become a little slippery if it’s been raining; be sure to wear good shoes with a suitable grip.

There are benches at various points along the way for resting, and it’s a pretty short trail, so you can take your time and explore properly. Spend some time at the observation deck as the view is simply wonderful and is ideal for photographs.

If you’re spending a weekend in Tampa, you can expect that the trail will be pretty busy. If you go during the week you’ll almost have the entire place to yourself.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Upper Tampa Bay Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 1.1km/0.7 miles
Duration: 12 minutes
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 2 meters
Best For: Quick walk, beginners, families, nature

10. MacDill Trail (Best for Families)

Family of 4 going on a hike

This is the best Tampa hiking spot for families as there’s a playground where children can run free and picnic areas along the way. There’s a picturesque lake halfway around, and you’ll see many types of birds, and open sports fields too.

This trail is paved the whole way around so it’s ideal for families with strollers and those in wheelchairs. You can take your dogs along this route, but you’ll need to keep them on a leash.

While this hike is short, I really enjoyed the family vibe. It’s never unduly crowded or loud, and the large number of trees makes you feel like you’re a lot further from the city than you really are.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Gadsden Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 2.4km/1.5 miles
Duration: 30 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 3 meters
Best For: Beginners, quick walk, families

11. Rocky Creek Park Trail (Best for Bird Watching)

2 Person watching birds

I’m especially fond of this trail, mainly for the amount of different birds I spotted when I went. The river flows through the middle of the park, and you cross over via a wooden bridge, which also offers fantastic views.

Although the pathway is paved, it can become a little slippery after it’s been raining and the leaves have fallen. It’s one of the best hikes near Tampa for wildlife and birdwatching, but it’s also a very easy one for beginners. There’s lots of shade too, which is welcome during the hotter summer months.

Overall, I think this is one of the best hiking trails in Tampa if you don’t want to travel too far away from Downtown, but still want to feel like you’re in the middle of nature. If you have an hour to spare, spend it here.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Rocky Creek Park. Click here for more information.
Length: 0.8km/0.5 miles
Duration: 10 minutes
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 3 meters
Best For: Quick walk, beginners, nature, families

12. Temple Terrace Scout Park Loop (Best for Scenery)

2 Hikers reached the top of the mountain with the best scenery

Without a doubt, this is one of the best summer hikes in Tampa, and when all the trees and flowers are in full bloom, it’s a sight to behold. It won’t take too long to complete this hike, around 20 minutes if you don’t stop along the way, but it’s worth taking a leisurely pace to fully admire the scenery.

You can take a picnic here, although there aren’t many trash cans so always remember to take packaging and any leftover food with you. While this is a popular spot, it never feels crowded so you’ll certainly be able to get away from it all by visiting this area.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in nature, you can choose to spend the night under the stars as there’s a campsite available. It’s subject to availability as it’s used by local scout groups, so be sure to enquire before pitching up!

Trail Details and Information

Location: Temple Terrace Scout Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 1.6km/1 mile
Duration: 17 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 1 meter
Best For: Quick walk, beginners, families, camping

13. Picnic Island Loop (Best for Beach Walking)

Couple enjoying a walk on the beach

Most of the Tampa hiking trails are either countryside environments or beaches, but the beauty of this particular hike is that it combines both. The downside is that the route isn’t paved so you’ll definitely need adequate walking shoes or sneakers.

You can take this trail at any time of the year, but summer will show you the best of the area. You can take a picnic here, hence the name, but again, always remember to take your trash away with you. There’s a disc golf course halfway along the route.

This trail can get a little busy during the weekends and public holidays, but it’s never uncomfortably crowded. There’s space to pass people along the way, but it isn’t recommended for strollers or wheelchairs because of the uneven terrain.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Picnic Island Park. Click here for more information.
Length: 3.4km/2 miles
Duration: 40 minutes
Type of Trail: Loop
Elevation Gain: 7 meters
Best For: Intermediate, nature

14. Town ‘N Country Greenway (Best for Seeking Solitude)

A silhouette of a man seeking solitude

Despite the fact this trail takes you past a residential area, it feels very ‘out of the way,’ making it ideal for finding a little peace and quiet or getting away from it all. It’s one of the best short Tampa day hikes if you’re a total beginner because the track is paved and signs clearly show you the way.

Like most hiking trails in Tampa, it’s suitable for people with strollers or wheelchairs, and you can take your dog, but again, you need to keep them on a leash. There are many different types of trees that are really interesting to explore and are home to a lot of bird species.

You can park your car just outside of the trailhead, but there are limited spaces available – it’s best to arrive early if possible.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Town & Country Park. Click here for more details.
Length: 6.8km/4.2 miles
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 16 meters
Best For: Beginners, families, nature

15. Harbour Island Coastal Walk (Best for City Walking)

A walk in the city

If you like your hikes a bit more vibrant, I’d recommend this one. You’ll see plenty of people, although not so many that it feels crowded, and you’ll enjoy some amazing views. It’s one of the best winter hikes in Tampa because there’s no chance of poor weather affecting your time — you’ll just need a thick coat and an umbrella.

In the summer months, you can paddle board along this route, but it’s simply a great opportunity to soak up the vibe of the city without being right in the middle of the hustle and bustle. No matter which time of the year you visit Tampa, there are some great hikes available.

You can rest along the way, thanks to strategically placed benches, and there are a few cafes at certain spots too.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Harbour Island. Click here for more information.
Length: 3.2km/2 miles
Duration: 35 minutes
Type of Trail: Out & back
Elevation Gain: 5 meters
Best For: Beginners and urban walking

What to Pack for Hikes in Tampa

Now you know of the best hiking in Tampa, you’ll need to know what to take with you. There aren’t any trails that are so far out into the wilderness that you’ll need special equipment, but it pays to have the basics with you:

Tips for Hiking in Tampa

Most day hikes around Tampa are pretty easy and not too long, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to stick to some basic guidelines. Follow these tips, and you’ll remain safe while enjoying the best the area has to offer:

Be Animal Aware

A bear warning

You’re not going to be heading into extreme wilderness, but it pays to understand the type of wildlife you might encounter. Stay away from water and don’t attempt to swim unless signs say you can; alligators can, and do, lurk. You should also spray yourself liberally with mosquito repellant to avoid unwanted bites.

It’s unlikely you’ll see a bear while you’re out and about, but it’s not unheard of. Don’t run away, instead, back away slowly. if the bear moves toward you, stand up to your full height, and make a lot of noise, as you continue backing away.

Check The Weather Before Heading Out

Checking today's weather on a mobile phone

Most hiking trails in Tampa offer a good amount of shade from the sun, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear sun lotion and a hat. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go, just in case there are any storms predicted. If there are, it might be best to reschedule.

Let Someone Know Where You’re Going

A person letting someone know their location

This is basic common sense. If you’re heading out on a hike, let someone know where you’re going, be it a friend, family member, or even the hotel receptionist. Keep your phone with you at all times, and make sure it’s fully charged before you go.

The Trails Can Be Slippery

A person walking on a slippery trail

The best treks in Tampa often take you through woodland and trees. This is fine in the summer, but if it’s raining, especially in winter, these tracks can become a little slippery due to fallen leaves.

Never be tempted to walk in Tampa in flip-flops or summer shoes. Hiking, walking shoes, or sneakers will give you the grip you need to stay on your feet.

Check Whether Picnics Are Allowed

No Picnic Allowed Signage

Most hiking trails in Tampa feature picnic tables and spots where you can eat, but not all. There will be signs confirming what is and isn’t allowed so make sure you check ahead of time before you take a full picnic and intend to eat it somewhere along the way.

It goes without saying but, if you do have a picnic, make sure you take all of your trash with you. Leave the trail as you found it.

Follow Proper Trail Etiquette

Word Etiquette on the board

It’s just good manners to step to the side to let other people pass if they’re walking faster than you. If someone is walking toward you, make sure you move aside so they can easily pass. Always be mindful of the wildlife, and the flora and fauna on the trail sides.

Hiking in Tampa: FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about hiking in Tampa, FL:

What is the most popular hike in Tampa?

The best hikes in Tampa are dotted around the bay, but the most popular is the Riverwalk between Channelside and Downtown.

What is the easiest hike around Tampa?

Lettuce Lake Park Boardwalk is an easy hike that will suit most people. Wheelchair users and families with strollers will also find this very accessible.

Are there any waterfall trails in Tampa?

There are some waterfall hikes in Tampa, but they’re a little further out and are more suitable for advanced hikers. The nearest is Falling Creek Falls which is 2.5 hours away from Tampa.

What should I wear when hiking in Tampa?

Most hiking trails in Tampa are paved, but you should wear comfortable and supportive shoes. You should also carry a light rain jacket just in case, and if you’re hiking in the summer, make sure you have a hat to protect against the sun. Comfortable, loose clothing is also advisable.

Is hiking in Tampa dangerous?

Not at all. As long as you follow instructions and stick to the path, hiking in Tampa is completely safe.

What is the longest walking trail in Tampa?

The Courtney Campbell Causeway West Trail is the longest at 25.9km/16 miles.

What is the most difficult hiking trail in Florida?

The best hikes around Tampa range from easy to moderate, so there aren’t any particularly difficult trails around the area.

Which places provide the best hiking trails in Tampa for kids and families?

The MacDill Trail is the best for families as it has a playground and many facilities for families and children.

In Closing

There are many hiking trails in Tampa, and all of them offer unrivaled scenery and a chance to breathe in some fresh air. I have to admit, I was never an avid hiker, but after going on a few walks with a friend, I found a real appreciation for not only the activity itself but the scenery around Tampa and beyond.

Choose a trail that calls out to you the most, put on some comfortable shoes, and head out there. You’ll be able to take plenty of photographs, burn off some calories, and when you return, you can enjoy a huge meal – you’ll have certainly earned it!

Nicola Curtis writer bio photo

Written by

Nicola Curtis

Born and raised in the north of England, Nicky is a writer of more than ten years’ duration and through that time, she has hopped around the world trying new cuisines, meeting amazing people, and experiencing different cultures. Of course, she loves to put all of that into words for others to read and be inspired by.

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