15402 N. US Highway 301
Florida’s streams, rivers, and lakes are nearly impossible to count. The state itself sits on a bed of porous limestone, enabling the water underneath to supply sinks, springs, and sinkholes. The most important waterway to residents of Tampa is the Hillsborough River, which runs from the Green Swamp to an outlet on Tampa Bay.
The Hillsborough River has flowed for around 27,000 years and once supported trees such as bald cypress, longleaf pine, and live oak. Due to waterlogging activity in the early 1900s, most trees along the river today are less than a century old. Many European explorers who came to Florida landed at the Hillsborough River, such as Hernando de Soto in 1539.
A number of Tampa’s parks, cultural exhibits, and infrastructure facilities were built around the Hillsborough River and rely on its water supply: the Henry B. Plant Museum (formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel), Sulphur Springs, the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, Lettuce Lake Park, and more. Opened in 1935, the Hillsborough River State Park showcases the area’s history, particularly the Seminole War of the 1830s. Visitors of the park can enjoy scenic walks along the river, canoeing, fishing, and cycling. The Hillsborough River is one of the only waterways in Florida to produce a series of rapids, which are easily viewed from the park boardwalks.