Tampa Bypass Canal hike

Toren and I went hiking again today.  I’m constantly looking for new places to hike and found one using a hiking guide book some friends gave me (available here).  Using the guide, I tried a new hike – the Tampa Bypass Canal.  I didn’t realize there was a canal in Tampa that takes water from the Hillsborough and connects it with the bay.  Anyway, because it is public land, it’s accessible for hiking. And since it’s closer than most of the hikes around here, I figured I’d try it.

One of the access points is supposed to be at Wilderness Park – Veteran’s Memorial Park. Since it’s a free county park, I figured we could park there and then hike up the canal.  Um, yeah, easier said than done. First, Google Maps (i.e., my GPS on my phone) tried to send me into the park from the back, which, of course, is not an entrance (FYI, the entrance is off of US 301, heading south).  Then, when I drove up to the park (after fighting the State Fair traffic), I found out it was under construction and completely closed.  Even so, I saw an entrance to the canal across US 301, so I loaded Toren up and headed off.

My initial impression wasn’t very good as there was a fair amount of trash and the homes right around there were a bit sketchy.  But once I crossed MLK, it got quite scenic.  There was less trash and the homes were a bit nicer.  It was also a bit more rural feeling (even though I was headed for I-4).  Along the way we saw lots of birds (Great Blue Heron’s, White Ibis, Turkey Vultures, Ducks, and either Cormorants or Pelicans – not sure, but they were a diving bird and they dove a bunch while we watched).  We also saw a horse, two cows, and a raccoon.  Toren saw the raccoon before I did; it was only about 5 feet away before I saw it and then it ran off. Every time we would pass a bird, Toren would wave and say, “Bye bye!”  He’s pretty good at that now.

I was planning on hiking to I-4, but Toren got a little fidgety just south of the freeway and wanted a snack.  I pulled out his cheerios and a granola bar for him.  He initially took the granola bar, but then when he saw that I was going to snack on some spicy Cheez-Its, he wanted those.  I gave them to him and he munched on them (from the ziploc) all the way back to the car (hard to beat riding on someone’s back while eating and looking at birds).

I used a new map program on my phone since my old one is finicky, and this one requires that you purchase it before you can upload the maps (ugh).  So, I recreated our route on Google Maps:

Our distance hiked was about 2.26 miles. Here are a couple of photos:

looking south at a spillway on the canal
Toren getting a ride

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