It Begins.

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A greeting at the trailhead

Today, I am officially launching the Wild Sunshine Project.

What the heck does that mean? Please read more about it here.

The first stop will be quite close to home: The Hillsborough River State Park. This park is about 21 miles from my house, located near Wesley Chapel. Hillsborough River State Park opened in 1938. According to the Florida State Parks webpage,

The river was named in the late 1700s for Wills Hills, the British Colonial Secretary and Lord Earl of Hillsborough.  In the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established the area surrounding the river rapids as a public park.  Many of the park’s structures and the suspension bridge are examples of the CCC style of rustic architecture, in harmony with the natural environment.

Huh. In a state where so many things have names with Native American roots, I would never have guessed that Hillsborough is named after an English dude.

This park has a LOT to boast about. First of all, they have a ton of tours. And you know me–I love tours. If walking’s not your speed, tour by bicycle. Too easy? Tour by surrey instead. Too difficult? You can also choose from a segway, a golf cart, or a tram. You can bet I’ll be back for a tram ride.

The park also has canoe and kayak opportunities, featuring some Class II rapids. And the greatest tragedy of my day? The half-acre pool is closed for the “winter.” I absolutely cannot wait to lay by this pool in the summer!

They also have a ton of events, like themed kayaking and a super cool sounding adventure race called the Swamp Stomp. I was so impressed by their calendar and will be keeping track of them on Facebook.

The trails were gorgeous. We did about 3 miles in total, combining the Rapids Trail and the Baynard trail. I didn’t know that a section of the Florida Trail. This section is about 3 miles long and I’ll let you know what it’s like as soon as I get my feet on it!

I would recommend this park to anyone in the area. It had a nice variety of well-marked trails with varying degrees of difficulty. We saw elderly people, children, and people hiking in flip flops–just to give you an idea of how easy the trails can be. I particularly enjoyed the Rapids trail because it follows the river and you can enjoy the sound of the rapids as you hike.

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Overall, I was very pleased with my experience. It felt great to finally get on a trail and soak up some sunshine. And the best part of all? This place is so close to home and it has so much to offer, it will take me 5 visits or more before I can see it all. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the very heart of this project: falling in love with your own backyard.

 

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