After-Hours Excursions Cast a Whole New Light on Guided Hikes

Hillsborough County parks and nature preserves offer a diverse array of trails to get out and explore Florida’s natural beauty.

If you are looking for a change of pace from the traditional daytime hike, however, check out one of their after-hours options.

The After Dark in the Park series offers a number of guided night hikes that let visitors experience the sights and sounds of nature after the sun goes down. Typically, after-hours hikes are held when there is a full moon or when there is a new moon (no visible moon). On full-moon treks, participants can see much of a preserve’s landscape bathed in the glow of the moonlight. New-moon hikes, on the other hand, offer terrific views of the night sky: stars, planets, constellations and even galaxies. Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management also hosts after dark hikes that coincide with astronomical events, like meteor showers and the recent Wolf Moon.

The hikes are held at various nature preserves and parks across Hillsborough County. They are typically two miles in length, with multiple chances to stop and stargaze.

Things to know

  • Registration is required and the cost is $5 per person.
  • Weather related cancellations are possible; a raincheck is provided if cancelled.
  • The minimum age requirement is 10 years; those under 18 must be accompanied by adult.
  • Maximum participants: 8

Required things to bring

  • Water in refillable container
  • Closed-toe shoes

Recommended things to bring

  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Change of clothes
  • Bug spray
  • Flashlight (Hikes take place in the dark and flashlights and headlamps are used to light the stops.)

The After Dark series is just one of the many guided tours and other nature education programs regularly scheduled at many Hillsborough County conservation parks and nature preserves. These fun and illuminating programs include guided daytime hikes, sunrise hikes, canoe trips, wagon tours and family programs. Registration is available at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/calendar. Events are posted a few weeks in advance. The best way to keep up on the latest event news is to sign up for the parks Trailblazer newsletter here.

By Karen Ring

The originally posted article incorrectly listed the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation as hosting the night hikes. The hikes are actually hosted by the
Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management. The article above now correctly reflects that. The editor regrets the error.

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