Heading Down Juniper Creek
Description of trip: A 3-to-5-hour paddle down 7 miles of Juniper Creek, Juniper Springs' crystal clear spring run. Camp at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area if you like. Campground includes restrooms and hot showers.
N 29.17833 deg, W 81.713167 deg
Juniper Springs. Located about 4 miles west of State Road 19, on State Road 40, between Ocala and Ormond Beach.
N 29.21367 deg, W 81.65483 deg
Juniper Wayside. Located about 4.3 miles north of State Road 40, on State Road 19.
Maps: USGS 7.5' Series Topo Map, JUNIPER SPRINGS, FL
Contact: Juniper Springs Recreation Area, 352-625-3147. Canoe rental and shuttle, 352-625-280.
Beginning at Juniper Springs, in the Ocala National Forest, clear and mostly shallow Juniper Creek (or Juniper Run, as it's sometimes called) snakes its way through the heart of the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, a 13,000-acre tract elevated to "wilderness" status in 1984. Pursuant to the Wilderness Act of 1964, a designated "wilderness" area is "a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state." You'll find lots to see in a designated wilderness area. What you won't find are "roads or other works of man."
A paddle down this spring run is a true wilderness experience. You may encounter alligators, limpkins, deer, and bobcats plus a variety of other creatures. (Regarding alligators, heed the signs and DO NOT get out of your boat. There are big alligators in here and swimmers/snorkelers have been killed on this creek.) The surrounding countryside consists of open prairies, sandpine scrub, hardwood hammocks, longleaf pine, slash pine, and pond pine.
Warm-weather week-ends can get crowded, so you may want to plan your trip during the week for greater solitude.
The trip begins at the Juniper Springs recreation area on State Road 40 and ends 7 miles downstream at Juniper Wayside, located along State Road 19. It's a 3-to-5-hour paddle, closer to 3 if you keep moving at a steady pace, closer to 5 if you want to break for lunch, plus just stop a while to relax.
Juniper Springs recreation area provides camping (with restrooms and showers), canoe rental, and shuttle service for the Juniper Creek trip. Contact Juniper Springs at the number given in the table below for prices and further information.
After you've paddled Juniper Creek, enjoy a swim (bring your mask and snorkel) in the cool, clear waters of Juniper Springs and walk some the recreation area's trails.
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