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Old 05-15-2020, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Greater Orlampa CSA
4,496 posts, read 3,570,388 times
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I tend to rank parks according to a number of criteria-at least Florida ones with beaches not included.

-How are the facilities for visitors (picnic tables, informational displays, activities, etc.)
-Is the trail forested (FL is hot, so that's a reasonable question)
-What is the scenery like (are there variations in elevation, geologic features, a river or views, etc.)
-What is the trail like (I'm not particularly partial to any one surface.. but I'll be honest-I don't like swampy or bush hacking)
-Which activities can be pursued at the park (hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, etc.)

I think for me, even though it's not all that close to me, Alderman's Ford is the best combination of everything-it's $2, but a great experience, I would say tops in the area. But, I have a few others that I would classify according to different criteria. Remember, this is just among the ones I have experienced so far. Also, I am living in the South Bay... so I have limited experience with North Hillsborough Parks, or even a number of Northern Pinellas ones.
1. Best overall hike (per my tastes): Alderman's Ford Park
2. Best urban hike/public space: Vinoy Park/Straub Park (Riverwalk in Tampa is good though too as is Lake Mirror)
3. Best bike ride: Courtney Campbell Causeway
4. Best trail town (bike or hike): Dunedin
5. Best wildlife viewing: Circle B Bar Reserve
6. Best backpacking/primitive loop (so far): Little Manatee River (North Loop)
7. Best visitor center/informational complex: Didn't see inside, but (1) Weedon Island (2) DeSoto National Memorial
8. Best tropical/"Amazonian" (?) feel: Emerson Pointe Preserve
9. Best festival park/"People's Park": Al Lopez Park
10. Best run: (1) Lake Hollingsworth (2) Ringling Causeway (3) Pinellas Trail-Skyway Extension
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