Summary of Features
- Scale -2nd magnitude
- Scenery -good-fine
- How Pristine? -developed swim/park area, retaining wall and fence around one spring, sandbags and fence around other
- Swimming -fine-excellent, fine snorkeling
- Protection -very good
- Crowds -heavy on warm weekends
- Access -fine
- Facilities -fine
- Safety -excellent
- Scuba -no
- Cost -$2 per vehicle, plus $2 per person to swim
Address: 3932 Lithia Springs Rd, Lithia, FL 33547, 813-744-5572
From Interstate 75 in Brandon, go east on State Road 60 (Exit 51). Go about 3 miles and turn right/south onto Lithia Road, which later becomes Lithia Pinecrest Road. Drive about 7 miles and turn right at entrance to Lithia Springs County Park and proceed to the spring. Link to park site and map: www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/locations/lithia-springs-park
There are two spring areas/pools at this site. The larger pool is roughly oval and about 100 by 200 feet in diameter. The pool is formed by the flow from a couple of vents amid large limestones in the back center (western end) of the pool. The depth of the pool varies depending on the water table and rainfall. Under normal conditions, depths range from shallow at the edges to 3-5 feet in the center, except at the vents where it is up to 8 feet depending on water levels. In times of drought, the depth can be much reduced. A large grating placed over the vent prevents access.
Water in the spring is clear and blue over the vent. In the areas where there are plants in the water, the water has a greenish tint. Some fish may be seen in the spring around the grating and in the pool, and the bottom is mostly sandy with some large rocks. A retaining wall has been erected around much of the spring to prevent erosion. There is hydrilla in the lower end of the pool and in the run--it is manually removed from the main pool area. At the lower end of the pool, the run bends to the SW and flows about 100 yards to the Alafia River. Land slopes up from the spring to a partially cleared park area. The Alafia River flows behind the western end of the spring and is separated from the spring by a 10-foot natural levee covered in hardwoods and palm trees.
The smaller pool is near the run of the larger spring to the SW. Water flows from a limestone opening at the base of a bank in the east end of the pool. Under normal conditions, the vent is about 6 feet deep, but is shallower in times of drought. The spring forms a roughly circular pool about 45 feet across that forms a short (about 100 feet), winding, shallow, and narrow run to the Alafia River. The pool and its run are canopied and mostly shaded, in contrast to the larger pool which is entirely sunlit. The eastern side of the pool is sandbagged to prevent erosion. A mild boil is visible on the surface above the vent, which is also grated to prevent access. There is some hydrilla in the pool and run. There is a fence above the sandbagged end of the spring.
- Lithia Springs is a Hillsborough County Conservation Park. The large pool is a very popular swim area. Swimming is fine in the pool. There are lifeguards at the main spring pool/swim area.
- No entry is allowed in the smaller pool, although it was once accessible. During that period, its bottom was cleared and sandy/rocky. Since access has been cut off, vegetation has reclaimed much of the pool.
- The large pool is a good place to search for and find shark teeth.
- The county park offers swimming, picnicking, 44 campsites, a playground, open areas for sports, restrooms, and even vendors on summer weekends. It is a longstanding local recreation spot and can be very crowded on weekends.
JF grew up in nearby Tampa and visited Lithia Springs on several occasions as a boy in the 1970s. His love of springs had its genesis in these exhilarating days spent swimming, diving, courting, jumping from trees, hunting shark teeth, and hanging out at the springs. Some of his fondest memories are associated with Lithia Springs. The smaller spring was accessible during this time, and the trees that canopy it served as good jump-off points into the spring and its run.
- Lithia Springs has been a recreation area for more than 100 years. It has hosted picnics, fairs, weddings, reunions, and other local events in addition to being the best swimming hole in the region.
- The adjacent Alafia River is adversely affected by and polluted from stormwater runoff, fertilizers, and animal waste from nearby farms. It has been closed on several occasions due to unsafe levels of fecal coliform.
- From the park web site: "Well-known for its natural spring which flows year-round, cool, clean water into the Alafia River, the Lithia Springs Park was originally purchased by Gardinier, Inc., a mining company that soon became Mosaic Phosphate, Inc. When the company leased the park to Hillsborough County as a recreational area in 1957, the 160-acre site slowly became a popular camping spot."
- Eureka Springs
- Philippe Spring
- Tarpon Spring
- Salt Spring
- Crystal Springs
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Little Manatee State Recreation Area
- Fort DeSoto Park
- Egmont Key State Park
- Caladesi Island State Park
- Honeymoon Island State Park