||Scenery: Very Good
|Distance: 7 miles
one-way from Juniper Springs to Juniper Wayside Park on SR 19.
|Atlas: Page 73 C-2
|Last Update: September 2006
||Canoe OK: Yes
- limited details.
No paddling vacation is complete without a trip to the Juniper
Springs Recreation Area, located in Florida's Ocala National Forest.
The recreation area and surrounding wilderness consist of two medium
sized blue springs, a seven mile spring run, fantastic RV and tent
camping sites, visitor center, picnic tables, and miles of hiking
trails. If you didn't bring a canoe or kayak, the US Forest Service
runs a concession stand offering 15 and 17 foot aluminum canoes
for rent. The Forest Service will transport you and your personal
boat from the takeout to the rec area for $6 per person and $6 per
Please Note: Disposable containers, including soda
cans, are not allowed on the spring run. Also, be prepared for a
long portage from the parking lot to the canoe ramp. If you have
a heavy boat, bring a cart or borrow one of the park service carts.
Starting at the canoe ramp, the upper spring run is crystal-clear
and less than one foot deep. A white sand bottom gives the appearance
of paddling down a sandy, twisty and narrow roadway. Palmetto, palms,
oak and cypress form almost a complete canopy over the small creek,
which is much appreciated on hot summer days. About two miles downstream,
the run enters Juniper Prairie Wilderness, a sanctuary for wildlife
and those seeking to get far away from the urban world. The Florida
Trail passes through here, offering a great place to hike, as well
Further downstream the creek becomes wider and deeper while a matting
of leaves cover the bottom. A nice picnic spot with small wooden
dock is at the half-way mark. Near the takeout the creek widens
again into a flood plain / savannah complete with marsh grasses,
alligators and many wading birds. The takeout is just beyond the
SR 19 bridge on the right side of the creek. Juniper Creek continues
for another 2.5 miles before emptying into Lake George.
The Juniper Springs Recreation Area is located in the Ocala National
Forest, approximately 30 miles east of Ocala on SR 40. If you are
coming from Orlando, take US 441 north to SR 19. Go left (west)
at the junction of SR 19 and SR 40 for 5 miles. The park entrance
is on the north side of SR 40. The take-out is located 4 miles north
of the SR 19 and 40 junction at Juniper Wayside Park.
Juniper Springs Photographs
The main pool is oval in shape, approximately 125 feet long and up to 80 feet wide.
With a depth averaging 10 feet and 72 degree water year-round, the blue-colored spring makes a wonderful, but somewhat chilly place to swim and snorkel.
||Millhouse & CCC
According to a plaque outside the millhouse, in 1935 President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps cleared boulders from the springhead and erected a concrete wall around the pool.
Batteries inside the millhouse were used to store electricity generated by the water wheel.
Juniper Springs is surrounded by hardwood and saw palmetto forests, with ancient cypress trees along the spring run.
In addition to the outflow of Juniper Springs, water is added to the run by adjacent Fern Hammock Springs and numerous small sand boils.
The upper spring run is about 10-15 feet wide, shallow, and has many twists, turns, deadfalls and overhanging branches.
With a current of about 2 MPH, paddlers must pay attention or face an unexpected dunking.
On our last trip, we watched several canoes and a kayak flip as their occupants attempted to do the limbo.
As Juniper Creek reaches 4 miles from the put-in, the creek forks in different directions.
Donít worry too much about getting lost; if you don't run out of water, most passageways wind up back at the main channel.
Near SR 19, the canopy of trees gives way to a freshwater marsh.
The spring run makes a great place to view wildlife. Deer, otter, raccoons, alligators, numerous species of birds and even Florida Black Bear have been spotted by observant (and quiet) paddlers.
For the best wildlife viewing, go on a weekday. Weekends and holidays are frequently crowded.