Lettuce Lake Conservation Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL 33637
I’ve lived in Florida for over 30 years and have visited many parks, both county and state. Each has its own beauty. Today we’ll go over to my neighboring county of Hillsborough, home of the city of Tampa on the Hillsborough River. Close to the city and on the river is a quiet county conservation park filled with wildlife and tranquility. As with all parks in a natural setting, please follow the rules and stay on trails and boardwalk for an enjoyable, safe visit.
Lettuce Lake Conservation Park is one of Hillsborough County’s most visited parks. More than half of the park’s property lies in the natural floodplain of the Hillsborough River, consisting of a hardwood swamp forest. The remainder of the park consists of hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods plant communities. It is an inexpensive place for a family outing. The entrance fee is $2 per vehicle with up to 8 people per car. You can’t beat that! Bikes and dogs are allowed.
Lettuce Lake Park opened in 1982 and quickly became a hub of activities. The 240-acre site offers something for everyone. Wooded picnic areas and a playground are family favorites. A 1.25 mile paved bicycle path/jogging trail, complete with a fitness course, meander through the park.
Lettuce Lake is also a haven to study nature. The Visitor Center is a good starting point on your first visit. It has bird feeders that attract a variety of feathered friends and exhibits on wildlife and the eco system.
From the Visitor Center you can go to rent a canoe or go for a stroll through the park on the raised boardwalk. The boardwalk and marked trails are quite safe to explore the park despite the alligators and snakes you see.
The observation tower provides scenic views of the Hillsborough River.
On the weekends, park ranger and volunteer-led nature tours are available. Scheduled events include: Saturday, April 6th, a Native Plant Walk, and on April 13th, Beginning Bird Walk.
Canoes and kayaks rentals provide an opportunity to get close to plants and wildlife.
What I like about the park is its true reflection of natural Florida with wetlands, cypress trees, and lots of wildlife. I’ve seen many different birds (including cranes), snakes, alligators, turtles, and fish jumping out of the water.
I love cypress trees and their cypress knees growing in wetlands. Cypress and cypress knees are protected on state property and vital to the eco system. If you see cypress mulch for sale, please do NOT buy it as cypress wetlands are being decimated.
It is a quiet, serene environment and perfect for hours of enjoyment. The park is open in the Spring/Summer: 8 AM to 7 PM and 8 AM to 6 PM in the Fall/Winter. The boardwalk closes 30 minutes before the closing time. To really explore the park you need at least 2 hours, but it is also a pleasant place for a short walk.
Before You Go
- All plants and animals are protected. No hunting is allowed. Where fishing is allowed, you must follow state regulations.
- Pets must be restrained on a hand-held leash, and their poop must be scooped and disposed in the trash
- Please stay on marked trails. Bikes, horses, and campfires are only allowed in specified areas in certain parks and preserves. No unauthorized vehicles are allowed. If you have an emergency or witness illegal activities, call 911
- Get the latest announcements (like trail closures) at website
- Download or print a trail map when available
- Most importantly, know your limits.
In the winter, you can experience dusk from the boardwalk.
When you’re in the Tampa area, stop by Lettuce Lake Park and experience a quiet time with nature.
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