Hillsborough River State Park
Not my cup of tea, but might be yours
First, I want to say that I have visited HRSP several times, but this was my first time camping overnight. Previously, some light hiking and biking brought me here, but I never really paid that much attention to the camping area but should have.
To be fair, while this park was not for me, many may feel right at home. Personally, I don't want to feel like I am camping in the middle of an apartment complex's courtyard! I prefer not to see or hear people, much less talk to them through their window. My ideal area is boondocking in the mountains somewhere where people are scarce or non-existent! Now, I know HRSP is right smack dab in the middle of Tampa, so I'll base my opinions on that.
I stayed in site #029 LP2 the first night and then #053 LP3 the second.
Loop 2: Tight & stacked with no buffers does not even begin to describe this area. Sites are small, and most are 90° to the road (vs. set in at an angle), making it somewhat challenging to back into.
Site #029 is a "pull-thru," with a hard right/left/right around a tree to get in. When I first got there, the picnic table and fire ring were located on the backside of the RV? When I realized that the fore ring was not fixed to the ground (or even use at this location), I moved it to the other side of the site and repositioned my trailer to match. This gave me a view of the woods and river vs. all the other campers.
Current as of: 11/23/20
Loop 3: This area was more spread out and included some buffer zones between sites. Still, nothing between the sts to help block the view of your neighbor, but I didn't feel nearly as claustrophobic as I did in Loop 2.
Site #053: The drive lane was skinny, and the area for the table and fire ring was small. It would have been better with a 6'table and not the 8' that was there. This was much better than the first, and there was no one on either side of me, making it feel much larger! Site photos are of #53.
There are many hiking and biking trails (on and off-road) throughout the park and outside the park. November & December are great for wildlife, but January and February are a photographer's dream! See the photos.
The river is a fantastic place to paddle, which I have many times. I especially like putting in a few miles down the road at Canoe escape in Seargent's Park and then using CE to shuttle back to my truck. 3 main tours ranging from a couple of hours to a full 8 hr day.
Hillsborough River State Park is located in the northeast corner of Hillsborough County, Florida, near Zephyrhills (which is itself in Pasco County). It is a popular park due to its proximity to the city of Tampa. The park consists of over 2,990 acres, and there are more than seven miles of trails that run throughout it. Popular activities include fishing, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, camping, birding, easy to moderate hiking, trail running, and nature photography.
I agree that it’s like camping in an apartment complex. Campers in large RVs with little respect for quiet hours. Worst Florida park experience to date.