Hillsborough River and Fort Foster

I recently went canoeing with Tyler Ploettner, Andy Bryant, and Andy’s daughter, Brittany. We went up river on the upper Hillsborough River from Hillsborough River State Park. In all my years of canoeing I have only been on the Hillsborough for a very short distance a long time ago. Andy had never been there, so we decided to try something new this time. The very first bend we came across an alligator. Andy was hoping to cross that off his list of things to see. A little further up was a set of small rapids. They were more fun going back down than up through. The challenge was still worth it. Under U.S. 301 we came to a set of coquina concrete piers, the old foundation of a bridge.

The next bridge we came to was of newer construction, but old design. Snapped a few pictures of that as well. Just past the bridge we saw the top of a large stockade wall barely visible above the high bank of the shoreline. We had stumbled on Fort Foster. We had no idea it was there. It was like drifting back in time, quietly paddling underneath the bridge to find a secluded fortress rise up into view. Of course we had to take a little unauthorized self guided tour. Apparently, it was constructed on the site of an even older fort, Fort Alabama. It’s sole purpose was to protect the bridge across the Hillsborough River during the Seminole Indian wars. The bridge was part of the Fort King Highway running from Fort Brooke in Tampa to Ocala. We will be going back when they are open to get a real tour.

The kids at first did not like the log crossing obstacles. Some of them we could limbo under while others we had to get out, stand on the log and drag the canoes across. It didn’t take them too long to get used to it and make it happen quickly. I was worried the kids would fall in and  freak out in the black water. I didn’t need to worry about them, I was the only one to fall in.

Our turn around point was also where we ate lunch on a secluded sandy beach. We made better time going back down river. The water was cool and the river flows under a canopy of shade trees. That made for a much cooler canoe trip than some of the other local rivers with no shade.

After we loaded the canoes, we took a quick swim in the swimming pool at the State Park to cool off and clean up. I think I found my new “favorite” river.

Tyler and I took our time going home and stopped to explore a few more places. One of which was a burger joint in Zephyrhills.

With any luck, we will be going back down this Saturday for the official tour.  Check back, as I will probably be editing this story with more information from the tour and adding more detail to the story of our canoe trip.

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Cypress knee face

Cypress knee face

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