Juniper Springs


Swimming by the historic Millhouse. Photo credit fs.usda.gov

In the heart of the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is a subtropical oasis featuring sparkling springs, nature trails, wildlife viewing and camping under the shady oaks. It is an unusual setting unlike any other park in the United States due to the hundreds of bubbling springs and larger vents gushing out of the earth under the dense canopy of palms and spreading oaks.  This fantastic recreation area is one of the oldest and possibly best known spot in central Florida and attracts locals and visitors alike for the swimming in the springs, hiking and picnicking.

Photo credit floridasprings.org

Swimming in the day use area is perhaps one of the most popular activities at Juniper Springs. The water temperature is a warm, consistent 72° and crystal clear. A limestone wall surrounds the spring and provides easy access points for swimmers of all experience levels. Picnic tables are conveniently placed under a canopy of shade trees for visitors to enjoy a shady afternoon snack.

Juniper Run. Photo credit fs.usda.gov

Canoeing is also very popular with a 7-mile long journey down Juniper Run, one of the top 25 canoe runs in America and considered a must-do when visiting Florida. The narrow, winding waterway is set under a dense canopy of old-growth forest, giving you an intimate glimpse of old Florida. Canoes can be rented at the Juniper Springs Recreation area with a shuttle at the other end to return to the launch. If you bring your own canoe or kayak, you can pay a $12 fee for the launch and shuttle back; reservations are a must so call ahead. Inflatable boats, dogs and other pets are not allowed on the run.

Photo credit fs.usda.gov

If you prefer dry land, there is a 1-mile hiking trail leading from Juniper Springs to Fern Hammock Spring. Fern Hammock is a major spring which feeds Juniper Springs and is home to more than 20 sand boils. There is a wooden footbridge for viewing the spring as swimming is not allowed to protect the delicate sand boils.

Photo credit fs.usda.gov

If you are able to stay for more than just a day, the campground provides beautiful campsites underneath the spreading oaks with sites up to 45′ in length, many of which are pull-through. There are no electrical, water or sewer hookups so be prepared to dry camp. There are hot showers, flush toilets and a dump station, however, and a convenience store with food and other supplies.  Reservations can be made at recreation.gov or by calling 877.444.6777.

Pets are allowed in the campsite but not the day-use area and must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.







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