offers six different self-guided, downstream, day-trip combinations
along the Hillsborough River through a diverse ecosystem.
Guests are encouraged to take extra time on any trip for nature
observation, picnicking, photography, or fishing. Whether
you are renting canoes or kayaks or Canoe Escape is shuttling
yours, all paddling adventures start at Canoe Escape located
in John B. Sargeant Park. You will be launched at or transported
to the start of your trip from John B. Sargeant Park. (John
B. Sargeant Park charges a $2.00 per car parking fee.)
a river map, an explanation of your trip, and information
about current river conditions. Our staff is happy to provide
cursory paddling pointers to review the basic strokes in case
it's been a while since you've paddled or if you are a first-time paddler.
Knowing the draw stroke in the bow and the J-stroke and rudder
in the stern of the canoe will help you navigate your way
down the Hillsborough more easily.
trips are downstream. Approximated paddling times will vary
with your paddling proficiency, weather conditions, and the
water level. Although a rare occurrence, since this is a wilderness
area it is possible to encounter a downed tree or other obstruction
that may require a portage on any trip even though we do our
best to keep all self-guided trip sections free of objects
blocking the path.
Whether you are renting canoes or kayaks or we are shuttling
yours, reservations are strongly
recommended on all trips to secure trip time and
availability. By making a reservation you assist us in doing
our best to stagger-start launches so everyone can enjoy the
wildlife and serenity. Reservations and advance prepayment
are required for groups of 8 or more canoes.
Canoe Escape is open year around however we are closed Thanksgiving
Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day. We open at 9:00
Because this river is of such great ecological importance
to the Tampa Bay area, we believe that these trips are best
suited to wildlife watchers, families, and those seeking the
serenity of the outdoors. If you are looking for a social
outing that revolves around a lot of alcohol, this is not
the place for you. We have only a few rules
that are simple to follow and they exist for your safety as
well as that of the wildlife. We look forward to providing
you with one of the greatest outdoor experiences you'll ever
Self-Guided, Downstream Wilderness Park Trips
The Wilderness Park is a 16,000-acre wildlife preserve. It
is part of the Florida Wildlife Commissions's Great Florida
Birding & Wildlife Trail and was recognized by the Florida
Wildlife Viewing Guide (currently out-of-print)
as one of the best places to view wildlife in Florida and
is one of Hillsborough County's jewels.
Self-Guided, Downstream Wilderness Park trips are divided
naturally into three different two-hour sections that can
be taken individually or in combination. Small county parks
with picnic tables and restrooms are conveniently located
each two hours' paddling time apart. The river in this area
is flatwater with generally a one-half to one mile per hour
current. The approximated paddling times are at a leisurely
pace. Our latest launch for a 2-hour trip is 2:00 p.m.; for
a 4-hour trip is noon; and for a 6-hour trip is 10:00 a.m.
You are welcome to take as much additional time as you like
on any of our downstream trips however our last pickup is
5:00 p.m., no exceptions! At the launch site you will be asked
to schedule a time that you would like to be picked up.
information and rates follow trip
descriptions. Reservations strongly recommended.
to make a reservation.
paddling time; 4-1/2 miles
Trip 1 - Sargeant
Park to Morris Bridge Park
"Look at that alligator!"
"Hey, over there's a limpkin!" "Did you say there were 14
turtles on that log?" "We came around this bend in the river
and there was a family of wild pigs down at the edge of the
river bank!" "I can't believe I saw a river otter!" These
are typical things you might say to yourself and your friends
when you're done paddling this trip. Trip 1 is everyone's
favorite for its abundance of wildlife. It's the best place
to see alligators in the wild. This is the trip we recommend
for first time paddlers, birders, and photographers.
20 to 60 feet wide, canopied by large oaks and cypress;
70% shade alternating sun and shade
2 hour paddling time; 4 miles
2 - Morris Bridge Park to Trout Creek
Feelings of adventure and isolation await under a thick, green
canopy as the river twists and turns the first hour and-a-half
of this section. Then the river widens out. This section affords
an opportunity to see a variety of different species of flora
and fauna although not in the quantity that Trip 1 provides.
As you pass Nature's Classroom watch out for the "trespassing"
vultures. The winter months will provide you a glimpse of
a staggering number of them as migratory vultures join with
the year around resident population. You'll definitely want
to "look alive" so they don't mistake you for lunch. This
wide area of the river is great to view osprey and in low
water times (typically May/June) roseatte spoonbills. Exploring
Trout Creek near the end of the trip takes you out of the
cypress swamp into a hardwood hammock.
80% shade first 1-1/2 hours; then full sun
3 - Trout Creek Park to Rotary Park
This is a fantastic area for group outings and sun lovers.
You'll see some 'gators and wading birds here, but the wider
section of the river makes it easier for canoers to paddle
side by side to enjoy the company of close companions. The
incredible beauty of the forest and sky reflect in the calm
water as you paddle through the "Narrows". Although not narrow
for a canoe, this was as far up from Tampa Bay as ships (pirates?)
could come and thus it was named the narrows. The last 40
minutes of paddling will take you through the edge of the
suburban area of Temple Terrace. There is still a lot of nice
scenery to take in as well as some breathtaking estates.
paddling time; 5 miles full sun
Trip 4 -
Sargeant Park to Trout Creek Park
A combination of Trips 1 and 2 for four hours of Tampa's
best wilderness paddling and wildlife observation. Morris
Bridge Park (the midpoint of the trip) makes a great stopping
place for lunch, to stretch your legs, or just relax before
paddling time; 8-1/2 miles
75% shade first 3-1/2 hours; then full sun
5 - Morris Bridge Park to Rotary
paddling time; 9 miles
A combination of Trips 2 and 3 for four hours of contrasting
scenic beauty between the Wilderness Park and suburban
Temple Terrace. Trout Creek Park (the midpoint of the
trip) is a great place to have lunch, stretch your legs,
or just relax before heading on downstream.
80% shade first 1-1/2 hours; then full sun
Trip 6 - Sargeant
Park to Rotary Park
A combination of Trips 1, 2, and 3 for a full-day escape to
the joys of nature. Each two hours along the way is a developed
park area with picnic tables and restrooms for a "civilized"
wilderness experience. Due to the slow-moving nature of the
river, the 6-hour trip is only recommended for frequent paddlers.
You'll earn every mile on the Hillsborough. Less frequent
paddlers may be happier taking a 4-hour trip and making it
last six hours.
paddling time; 14 miles
75% shade first 3-1/2 hours; then full sun
Self-Guided, Downstream Trip Rates
do not include park's $2.00 per car parking fee.
do not include 7% sales tax.
- 10% discount
on non-holiday weekdays for Seniors (55 or older), AAA
members, or active military. Please let us know when
you check in that you are eligible for a discount.
- Ask about
our VIP (Very Important Paddler)
Program to earn freebies, discounts, and work toward
a free trip!
subject to change without notice.
credit cards accepted.
fee, paddles, life vests, and river map are included
in self-guided, downstream rental rates.
call 813-986-2067 to reserve.
Tandem canoe or kayak
Trips 1, 2, or 3: $49.00
tandem (includes 2 paddlers)
Trips 4 or 5: $59.00 per tandem (includes
Trip 6: $69.00 per tandem (includes
Some tandem canoes are large enough to accommodate center
passengers as follows:
under 12 (2 center passengers maximum):
12 - 17 (1 center passenger maximum):
18 or older (1 center passenger maximum):
Trips 1, 2, or 3: $46
Trips 4 or 5: $51
Trip 6: $56
extra time on self-guided, downstream trips for wildlife
viewing or picnicking at no extra charge. Last pickup
is 5:00 p.m. NO exceptions.
times are approximate and will vary according to paddlers'
skill, weather, and water conditions.
your protection, we reserve the right to cancel or alter
trips because of inclement weather, high water, or river
on the river is permitted, however, a fishing license
for the weather. Bring plenty of water and perhaps snacks
or lunch. (What to bring list)
Self-Guided, Downstream River
Trips Hourly Rentals Canoe/Kayak Owners
Guided Trips Nature
Interpretive Nature Reveals
God (coming soon)
Special Events Moonlight
Trips 17 Runs
What To Bring What
Might I See?
Information and Reservations (strongly