Alafia River Paddle Trip
Alafia River Paddle, The Alafia River is a tree lined river with cypress trees, oaks and palms trees that lean out over the river giving paddlers shade. Many areas along the river have high steep banks so there are not many take outs. We normally put in at Lithia Springs Park and paddle up river about 3 miles and come back. But you can also put in at Alderman Ford Park and paddle the 10 miles to Lithia Springs Park but it requires a self shuttle down to Lithia Springs Park.
The Alafia River is 25 miles long, with a watershed of 335 square miles in Hillsborough County, Florida, flowing into Tampa Bay. The watershed contains ten named lakes and ponds, and 29 named rivers, streams and canals. During the rainy season, excess water is pumped to the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which opened in 2005.
For centuries the Alafia River was home to the Tocobaga Indians. From their settlement at the mouth of the river to their hunting camps upstream, the Indians left traces of their lives and activities.
In the sixteenth century, the expeditions of Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto explored the coastal areas of Tampa Bay and visited the Indians, making the first written account and charting the first maps of the Alafia River. On an early map the name ‘Alafia’ does not appear, but rather the translation, Hunting River. The ‘Alafia’ is a native word meaning “River of Fire.” This is due to the strong red/brown color caused by tiny algae spores in the water.
Part of the river exists within the confines of the Alafia River State Park.
Lithia Springs Regional Park, is a park in Lithia, Hillsborough County, Florida. The park’s major attraction is a natural spring from which water flows year-round at a temperature of 72 degrees. Sixty per-cent of the park is surrounded by the Alafia River, into which the water from the spring flows.
In addition to the popular swimming area, the park includes forty-four campsites and two indoor shower facilities, as well as canoe and kayak launch facilities and canoe rental. There is a large grassy area. a fishing dock, volleyball, and hiking trails.