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Self-isolation and quarantine have revealed that staying at home can become a bit depressing. Now more than ever do we reminisce on the amount of freedom we took for granted as apartment amenities like 24-hour fitness centers and pools continue to be closed or limited capacity in off-campus housing near USF. Sometimes all you need is a breath of fresh air, and a hiking trail can provide just that. Tampa is a modern city but emphasizes maintaining its flora and fauna intact. With the Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve nearby USF's campus, there are plenty of trails to look check out. Here are some hiking trails to consider near the University of South Florida.
Eureka Springs Conservation park
The conservation park located in Hillsborough county is 31 acres full of walking trails, gardens, and even a greenhouse. Eureka Springs is a quick 15-minute drive away from USF's campus, making it the perfect getaway for fresh air. There is a $2 entrance fee per vehicle, and the park is open on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm as well as weekends from 8 am to 6 pm. Aside from the hiking trails, the conservation park has a rose garden and an orchid room. Due to COVID-19, some hours of operation may be different, so be sure to check out their information on reduced hours and reopening linked here.
Morris Bridge Park
Located in Hillsborough County, Morris Bridge Park is ideal for outdoor recreation, whether it be alone or with friends. The park is adjacent to I-75 and offers a handful of hiking trails, bike trails, and even birdwatching trails. The park is pet friendly, meaning your pup can also enjoy a break from your USF apartment. If the weather permits, you enjoy canoeing along a path surrounded by bald cypress trees. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Be sure to check the park's website, linked here, on reopening and hours of operation due to COVID-19.
Hillsborough River State Park
Hillsborough River State Park is a must-see during your time at USF as it has over 7 miles of nature trails and unique river rapids that belong to the Hillsborough river. While visiting the park, you can cool off, hike, and canoe throughout the park. There is an entrance fee of $6 per vehicle, and the park is open every day from 8 am to sundown. The park is also home to history as it has the Fort Foster State Park next to it, a park dedicated to showcasing the Seminole Indian's life. As of May 8th, there are limitations on bike rentals and maintaining social distancing while on the trails. Be sure to check on updates linked to their official website here.
Whether COVID-19 has amplified your urge to go outside or you're just a nature lover, these hike trails are a for sure spot to visit. It may be hard to find some normalcy as Florida slowly reopens, and we adapt to the new norm. Perhaps taking a hiking trail along the Hillsborough river can bring a bit of peace that your USF apartment can't provide. Maybe even taking your dog out to the Morris Bridge Park can remind you how beautiful Florida really is.