Just east of New Tampa’s subdivisions is an area where riders can wander through shaded forested wetlands and sunny pine flatwoods.
The Oak Ridge Equestrian Area is a 1,000-acre wilderness made to order for equestrian enthusiasts. The area is part of the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, one of the largest premier contiguous recreation areas in Hillsborough County. While the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department manages many park sites in the preserve, the District manages Oak Ridge.
The Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve’s primary purpose is water storage and water supply, but there are many recreational opportunities, including Oak Ridge. At the northern end of the equestrian area, you’ll find a picnic area with a handicap-accessible portable toilet and equestrian, group and primitive camping sites.
Camping sites have picnic tables and fire rings or grills. There is no drinking water supply in the preserve, but nonpotable water is available.
The Oak Ridge Equestrian Area’s 18 miles of multiuse trails meander through the property, crossing seasonal creeks and approaching New River to the north and the Hillsborough River to the east. Trails are suitable for horses or hiking.
The primary access to the area is from Morris Bridge Road, approximately 0.4 miles north of Cross Creek Blvd. You can also enter the property through the Washburn Gate about 2.5 miles south of the main gate. No restrooms or water are available at the Washburn Gate.
Oak Ridge is easily accessible for day use as well as overnight camping. Admission, parking and camping are free, but reservations are required and are available online at WaterMatters.org/recreation/. or by fax or mail.
Each issue of WaterMatters features a different District property ready for you to explore. These public lands are close to home and are free or very inexpensive to use.