Widely regarded as Tampa Bay's best urban trail, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail provides a scenic escape from its congested surroundings. The original section winds through suburban Citrus Park on an unused railroad corridor and extends along the west bank of the Channel A waterway, a drainage canal.
From the Peterson Park trailhead, the first mile leads through a rural landscape past grazing cattle, sheep and other livestock. At Ehrlich Road the scene waxes suburban, and interesting local eateries tempt you with their fare. Next, you're transported over busy Gunn Highway on a beautifully constructed pedestrian bridge, a good example of Florida's investment in its local trails.
The route then diverts from the original railroad corridor and takes a sharp right along the Channel A waterway, lined with native vegetation and beautiful cypress trees. You'll soon cross a lovely wooden bridge over peaceful Rocky Creek.
Continue following the west bank to the Waters Avenue trailhead, which offers plenty of parking, restroom facilities and an information center. This is a good spot to begin a trek or take a break. Beyond, the trail crosses Waters Avenue and parallels Memorial Highway to the westernmost trailhead.
On its southern end, there are plans to connect the Upper Tampa Bay Trail with the Town-n-Country Greenway.
On its northern end, a 4.3-mile extension is underway, which will take the rail-trail to Keystone Park and Austin Davis Public Library in the community of Odessa and along the western edge of the Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve. From there, the paved trail will follow Lutz Lake Fern Road to a connection with the scenic 42-mile Suncoast Trail. This new section is anticipated to be completed by summer 2015.
To reach the Peterson Park trailhead from downtown Tampa, take Veterans Expressway north to Exit 10/Ehrlich Road, head west 1 mile and turn right on Gunn Highway. Drive 1 mile north on Gunn Highway and turn right on Peterson Road. The trailhead is in the park.
To reach the Memorial Highway trailhead, take Veterans Expressway north to Exit 4/Hillsborough Avenue West/Route 580. Drive west 5 miles and turn right on Countryway Boulevard. After 0.5 mile, turn right on Memorial Highway. The trailhead is on the left.