Rules and Expectations

General rules that apply to all Hillsborough County Conservation Parks and Nature Preserves

  • All plants and animals are protected. No hunting is allowed. Where fishing is allowed, you must follow state regulations.
  • Pets must be restrained on a hand-held leash, and their poop must be scooped and disposed in the trash.
  • Please stay on marked trails. Bikes, horses, and campfires are only allowed in specified areas in certain parks and preserves. No unauthorized vehicles are allowed. If you have an emergency or witness illegal activities, call 911.

Have questions? Call us at (813) 672-7876

Before you go

  • Read your destination’s webpage for site details and important announcements (like trail closures)
  • Download or print a trail map when available
  • Most importantly, know your limits. We offer guided tours on foot, by canoe, and wagon – and we’ll be happy to show you our favorite highlights!

Find rules for Hillsborough County Outdoor Activities

Rules for Fishing

  • You must possess a valid Florida Fishing license to fish in all Hillsborough County parks and nature preserves. Learn more and purchase a license online.
  • Additional regulations apply to Fish Management Areas, such as Edward Medard Reservior. Learn more.

Rules for Boating

  • Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more must pass an approved boater safety course and have in his/her possession photographic identification and a boating safety education identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • All vessels with gas powered or electric motors must be registered with the State.
  • Learn more about boating regulations.

Rules for Camping

  • The standard maximum stay in Hillsborough County campgrounds is two weeks. For information on extended stays contact the park manager.
  • The individual registering for the campsite must be camping on the site and will be held responsible for their guests and condition of the site and making sure all rules are followed.
  • Only 2 tents, 8 people and 3 registered vehicles per site.
  • Quiet hours are 10 p.m. – 8 a.m.
  • All trash must be taken to dumpster located at the entrance of the campground
  • Do not attach anything to the trees including clothes lines, hammocks, lights, etc.
  • All plants and animals are protected by state and county laws Intoxicants and intoxicated persons are prohibited inside of the park property. Parties possessing or consuming any intoxicants will be removed from the park or campground.
  • Campers are not permitted to wash clothing or bedspreads in the bathhouses
  • Campers are not permitted to wash hair in sinks
  • Campers are not allowed to cut through other camper’s campsites without permission
  • Campers may not set up picnics in the park prior to park opening.
  • Campers are not permitted in the general park area after 10 p.m.,
  • Campers are responsible for cleaning up after pets and must properly dispose of pet waste
  • Pets are not allowed inside facilities
  • Campers who qualify for discounts must be camping on site for the entire stay.
  • Camper qualifying for discounts must be the camper re-registering for the site.
  • Campers are not permitted to drain off grey and black water tanks on site.

Rules for Swimming

  • Children under 12 years old must be supervised by a responsible adult over the age of 18.
  • The adult must also purchase a wristband even if they are not swimming to supervise the children under 12.
  • Wristbands are only sold at the main office
  • Anyone going past the entry gate to the spring must have a wristband this also includes campers (orange)
  • Food, drinks, and coolers are not permitted in the swimming area.
  • Drinks are acceptable in a non-disposable container (Yeti Cups, Tumblers, etc.)
  • No floatation devices in the deep end.
  • No Bluetooth speakers.
  • No hammocks or anything attached to trees or fence within the swimming area.

Rules for Hiking

What to bring
  1. The correct trail map for your destination
  2. A compass or GPS
  3. Plenty of drinking water
  4. Wear appropriate shoes and sun protection
Parks vs. Preserves

How are Hillsborough County’s nature preserves different from its conservation parks? Conservation parks usually have bathrooms, manicured pathways, picnic areas, playgrounds, and on-site staff. Some parks also have boat launches, canoe and kayak rentals, and campgrounds with amenities such as potable water, electric and showers. Nature preserves have minimal development because they are intended to protect wildlife and their habitats. You should expect to find unpaved parking lots, interpretive kiosks, and primitive trails. Importantly, most nature preserves lack water or bathroom facilities, so please plan ahead.

Public Trails vs. Fire Lanes

In addition to marked trails for public use, our conservation parks and nature preserves also have unmarked fire lanes. Why? Because fire plays a natural and essential role in maintaining Florida’s native habitats. Public trails are marked with blazes and numbers corresponding with the trail map. Fire lanes and other management roads are not marked. Please make sure to bring a trail map and pay attention to where you’re going. You can even download a georeferenced PDF that is compatible with smartphone tracking apps.

Using Trail Maps

Trail maps are provided to help you find your way around our sites. Map backgrounds are aerial images, which allow you to interpret natural features such as water bodies, forests and fields. Trail colors and numbers indicated on the map match those found on marked trails. Each map includes a compass rose for orientation, a scale bar for estimating distance, and a legend to identify amenities such as the parking lot, preserve or park entrance, kiosk, shelters, restrooms, picnic tables and trails.

Rules for Shelter Rentals

  • Hours: 
    • Shelters must be vacated one hour before the park closes
  • Bounce Houses:
  • Decorations: 
    • Prohibited items include:
      • Staples, nails, pushpins, tacks or paint
      • Metallic decoration sprinkles, glitter, confetti, rice, and birdseed
      • Candles
    • All decorations must be removed and disposed of properly
    • Under no circumstances are signs to be nailed, pinned, or stapled to any tree, park sign, facility, and/or along the roadways
  • Music: 
    • To provide a positive experience for all park visitors we do not allow amplified music or speakers. (i.e. other visitors should not be able to hear your music)
  • Grills:
    • Hot coals must be extinguished prior to leaving
    • Do not place coals in trash cans
    • Fires are only permitted within the provided grills
    • Ground fires are strictly prohibited
    • Personal propane, electric grills, and use of canned-heat (sternos) are permitted.
  • Clean-up: 
    • All trash must be bagged and disposed of in the receptacles provided
    • If trash cans will not be adequate for disposal, it is the shelter user's responsibility to remove and dispose of excess trash offsite
Rent a Shelter