LITTLE MANATEE RIVER STATE PARK
The Little Manatee River begins in a swampy area near Fort Lonesome and flows almost 40 miles before emptying into Tampa Bay. The river has been designated an Outstanding Florida Water and is part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. Visitors can fish along the banks of the river. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy hiking a six-and-a-half mile trail through the park's northern wilderness area. For those who prefer their hikes on horseback, the park has 12 miles of equestrian trails and four equestrian campsites. Campers can spend the night in a full-facility campground or hike out to a primitive campsite along the trail. A youth/group campground accommodates up to 20 people. The scenic picnic area along the river has tables, grills, and pavilions. Pavilions can be reserved for a fee. Unreserved pavilions are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Located five miles south of Sun City, off U.S. 301 on Lightfoot Road.
The Little Manatee River runs through the park and it is an excellent location to observe bird life and other animals.
Named for the river that runs through it, the first parcel of land that makes up Little Manatee River State Park was purchased on August 2, 1974. The park was then opened to the public in 1987, and since the river has been designated as an Outstanding Florida Waterway and is included in the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. Since the first purchase of land in 1974, the park has acquired several additional parcels and added these plots to the park since its' establishment. As a result, the park presently comprises over 2,400 acres.
Annual Entrance Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums. If you require immediate use of your pass, this is the best option. Passes can be purchased during regular business hours 365 days a year. Please call the park in advance to ensure availability. Those who are eligible for discounted or free passes may use this method to receive their pass. Annual Entrance Passes may be purchased online by visiting the FLORIDA STATE PARKS ANNUALENTRANCE PASSES
Full RV camping is provided in 34 campsites with full hook-up, four of which are specifically designed for horse camping. (Negative Coggins required for all of our horse camping guests). Each site is equipped with electricity, water, a fire ring and picnic table. Pets are allowed with restrictions. Shopping is available at the Sun City Center which is located 5 miles from the park. Exhibits are located throughout the park and there are many planned activities year-round.
A primitive camp, located along the trail, is available by reservation only.
Youth Camping area is available at Little Manatee and can accommodate up to 20 people at one time.
The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities, with rentals available on-site. The river is also navigable by small motorboats. There's an easily accessible boat ramp near the parking area where you can launch your own vessel if desired.
Visitors can explore the river by canoe and observe the area's scenic beauty and wildlife. Canoes are available for rent.
Freshwater fishing opportunities include bass, bream and catfish. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required for persons 16 years of age or older.
Little Manatee River State Park is located near Apollo Beach, Bradenton and Brandon
Restroom facilities are available in the park. All restroom facilities are ADA accessible.
Picnic tables and pavillions are available in the picnic area along the river. Pavilions can be reserved for a fee. Unreserved pavilions are available on a first come basis.
The park has a 12 mile equestrian trail and eight equestrian campsites. Dogs are not allowed on the equestrian trail.
A 6.5-mile hiking trail that meanders through a diversity of habitats is available in the park's northern wilderness area. Note: Dogs are not allowed on the 6.5 mile trail. A primitive camp, located along the trail, is available by reservation only. All hikers must register at the park's ranger station. Little Manatee River State Park's nature trails have been designated as the area's best hiking trails.
Bicycling enthusiasts can explore a 6.5-mile multi-use trail, but it's recommended for experienced riders due to rugged terrain.
The park also offers an easier 2.2-mile paved loop suitable for casual cyclists and families with children.
Always remember that helmets are highly advised as safety is paramount when biking in the area.
Please note: off-road or mountain bikes are necessary on unpaved trails because of sandy conditions which may be challenging.
It's important to stay hydrated; carry water bottles during your ride especially under Florida's hot sun.
Be aware of wildlife crossing paths while cycling - caution should always be exercised around them.
Check weather forecasts before planning your trip since heavy rains could make some routes impassable or dangerous.
The park offers diverse birding opportunities with over 100 species, including hawks and warblers. Birdwatchers can explore various habitats such as hardwood forests, sand pine scrub areas, river swamps and marshes. The Oxbow Nature Trail is a popular spot for spotting birds like the red-shouldered hawk or barred owl. Other trails also provide excellent viewing points throughout different seasons of the year.
Pets must be confined, leashed (not to exceed six feet in length) or otherwise under the physical control of a person at all times. Tethered pets must not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes. Quiet hours must be observed from 11:00 p.m. - 8:00 a.m. Pet owners must pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all pet droppings in trash receptacles. Florida law requires that pets be vaccinated against rabies. Any pet that is noisy, dangerous, intimidating or destructive will not be allowed to remain in the park. Non-furbearing pets, such as reptiles, birds, or fish must be confined or under the physical control of the owner. Some animals may be prohibited on park property. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the camper being asked to board the pet outside the park or to leave the campground.
Little Manatee River State Park is located four miles south of Sun City Center, off U.S. 301 on Lightfoot Road. From Tampa: I?75 South to Exit 240A, East to U.S. 301, Then South 4 miles, Turn Right onto Lightfoot Road, Park is on the Right From Sarasota/Bradenton: I-75 North to Exit 229, East to U.S. 301, Then North 6 miles, Turn Left onto Lightfoot Road, Park is on the Right From Pinellas County: I-275 South, cross the Skyway Bridge to I-75 North, Exit 229, East to U.S. 301, Then North 6 miles, Turn Left onto Lightfoot Road, Park is on the Right.