January 26, 2014 · 9:00 AM
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Alderman’s Ford County Park was named after James Alderman, who, in 1848, sloped the banks in thisin 1902, Democratic Party candidates in Hillsborough County started their political campaigns here. Thistrend continued for more than 60 years. The site became a county park in 1950 and the park nowencompasses 1,141 acres.
The Alafia River provides the paddler with occasional shoals to get the heart pounding. Ibis,wood stork, osprey, red-shouldered hawk, pileated woodpecker, kingfisher, blue heron, songbirds,alligators and turtles can all be spotted. When the water is high and the current becomes swift. Most of the trail’s shorelines are undeveloped and in public ownership.
The canoe launch at Aldermans Ford is on a channel that leads to the main river. Travel approximately 100 yards from the canoe launch and turn left (downstream). You will quickly pass under a small, but high bridge. From this point, the river narrows and proceeds beneath cypress, hardwood hammock and oak trees that provide welcome shade. Along the Alafia, the banks are generally several feet high and heavily vegetated, making it difficult to land or launch.
The river is fairly swift (1 to 4 MPH depending on water levels), with several small sets of whitewater rapids created by limestone shoals in the river. At very low water levels these become difficult to pass without bottoming out and at high water you might not notice them. However, if the water is just right, you'll experience up to 10 sets of class 1 whitewater rapids. Of course, compared to any state north of 30 degrees latitude it's not much, but for Florida, the whitewater is great.
- Alderman's Ford County Park – On Thompson Road, a half block west of CR 39, one mile north of Lithia.
- CR 640 Bridge – Six miles southeast of Brandon. (9 miles) No Parking
- Lithia Springs County Park – One mile east on Lithia Springs Road, off CR 640. (1 mile)