Hillsborough County founded the Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park in 1982 to provide a protected area for nature study and passive recreation. The 596-acre peninsular park also protects valuable coastal habitat and ecological communities that include mangrove forests, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, coastal hammocks, and pine flatwoods.
The Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park offers an abundance of wildlife and other ecological treasures for any devoted nature lover. Visitors can take a hike on nature trails and boardwalks and see gopher tortoises, zebra swallowtail butterflies, and even bobcats. They can also check out the shallow fresh water ponds that provide habitat for aquatic plants and animals. Live oaks and other hardwood trees often grow near these wetlands, where red shouldered hawks and bald eagles are sometimes seen. The shoreline and waters attract park wildlife and many other species, including roseate spoonbills, ospreys, otters, bottle nosed dolphins, and manatees.
But the fun doesn’t stop with the nature walks. The park’s canoe/kayak launch provides access to the creek and bay, which are excellent places for game fish, including red drum and snook. And while adults can relax and have lunch at the picnic shelters and tables, children can enjoy the park’s centrally located playground. The park also has a nature center which not only contains interpretive exhibits that describe the park environment, history, and geology, but also live animal displays that houses fish, snakes, and turtles.