OnTheWater

Ocala National Forest – Juniper Springs Recreation Area

/wps/PA_Recreation/scripts/recreation.js Area Status: Open This area is Open  

Juniper Springs is one of the oldest and best-known recreation areas on the East Coast. Located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along SR 40, this complex of swimming and picnic area, campground and trails was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The setting houses hundreds of tiny bubbling springs and massive springs gushing out of crevices in the earth beneath a dense canopy of palms and oaks, an oasis within the heart of the desert-like scrub ecosystem.

  • The following services are temporarily unavailable: Canoe rentals, shuttle services, parking reservation system and general store.
  • Firewood and ice ARE available.

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At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; may close earlier seasonally. Campers have 24-hour access to the gates with an access code.
Reservations: Reservations for the campground may be made by phone at 1-877-444-6777 or online:

Recreation.gov

Rentals & Guides: On-site concessionaire with canoe rentals. Fees: $45.00 + tax (includes shuttle transport). (+$20 deposit for canoe use)

If you bring your own canoe/kayak: $6 launch fee; $12 haul-back fee

Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Accessible,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees For more information on fees, please visit the concessionaire at https://www.adventureocala.com/recreation-areas.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: No wading in the spring runs; no fishing in the springs or runs.
Closest Towns: Astor to the east 9 miles along SR 40, and Forest Corners to the west, provide grocery stores, hardware, gas stations, and ATMs.
Water: Potable
Restroom: Flush toilets
Passes: Ocala National Forest Recreation Area Pass – Ocala National Forest/Springs Hopper Pass. The day use pass is $70 + tax/person; good from date of purchase through end of the year. It provides entrance to recreation areas managed by Adventure Ocala: Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Clearwater Lake, and Wildcat Lake. This pass is available for purchase from Adventure Ocala at Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs, and Silver Glen Springs.
Operated By: Adventure Ocala
Information Center: Download the Juniper Springs Recreation Area Map (PDF)
Download the Juniper Springs Nature Trail Map (PDF)
Download a map of the Juniper Springs Canoe Run (PDF)

General Information

Parking:

Large parking area for day use. Overnight parking available for backpackers for a fee.

General Notes:

Day use activities include picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, bird watching, paddling and hiking. At night, relax in the heart of the forest within our historic campground.

A barrier-free self-guided interpretive trail paralleling the spring outflows of Juniper Run and Fern Hammock Run provides information on the semi-tropical vegetation plus beautiful views of the waterways.

For hikers looking for a day in the woods, the statewide Florida Trail (area is unavailable)passes through the recreation area, leading hikers through the rugged Juniper Prairie Wilderness to the north (area is unavailable) and through the tall pines of the Big Scrub along Farles Prairie to the south (area is unavailable).

Canoeing is extremely popular year-round. The seven-mile journey down Juniper Run offers a unique perspective on the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, where you might see otters at play or alligators drifting through the shallows. Private canoes can be used, or canoes can be rented from the concessionaire on the premises. Haul-back services are available.

Accessibility:

Paths are wheelchair accessible from the parking area to the bathhouse, swimming area and along the spring run Nature Trail.

Directions:

From Interstate 75 at SR 40 in Ocala, drive east through Ocala and Silver Springs to reach the Ocala National Forest. It’s about 28 miles from I-75 to the recreation area entrance road on the left.

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Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

/wps/PA_Recreation/scripts/recreation.js

Activities

Camping & Cabins

Show detail SHOW

Campground Camping

Who doesn’t love camping under a dense canopy of live oaks? Juniper Springs is one of the nation’s top destinations for camping, not just because of the many activities available on-site but also for its well-shaded setting. There are 79 campsites to choose from, each with its own special story to tell.

There is a maximum stay limit of 14 consecutive days in a 30-day period. Seasonally the maximum stay limit will be 180 days.

Hiking

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Day Hiking

In addition to day hiking on the Florida Trail, which passes through the recreation area, families and those with limited mobility will especially appreciate the Juniper Run Nature Trail. This short (0.8 mile round-trip) but delightful introduction to the subtropical habitats found along our spring runs includes viewing areas to watch the bubbling springs; thickets of needle palms; tall sweetgum, maple and pine trees; and a variety of wildlife, from otters to our unique albino gray squirrels.

Areas for Day Hiking at Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Backpacking

Backpackers often use Juniper Springs as a stopping-off point while working their way along a 72-mile unbroken segment of the Florida Trail. The recreation area offers camping, showers, limited resupply at the camp store and swimming in the springs.

Florida Trail segments connected to the Juniper Springs Recreation Area include:

  • (Northbound) Juniper Springs to Hopkins Prairie (area is unavailable)
  • (Southbound) Juniper Springs to Farles Lake (area is unavailable)

Nature Viewing

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Viewing Wildlife

The dense, jungle-like forests surrounding Juniper Springs and Juniper Run – as well as the waterway itself – are home to wildlife that you might not commonly see elsewhere. Among the more interesting residents of our natural communities are the albino gray squirrels seen near the Mill House, the otters that play along the edges of the spring run, and the American eels that migrate out to the Sargasso Sea to spawn, returning to Juniper Springs to live.

Areas for Viewing Wildlife at Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Viewing Plants

In the clearing between the campground and Fern Hammock Springs, a variety of towering trees – including loblolly pine and sweetgum – are some of the larger examples of these trees found in the Ocala National Forest. Protected from timbering since the 1930s, they’ve grown to astonishing heights.

While Juniper Springs has a very tropical feel thanks to its palm hammocks, the surrounding landscape is the heart of the Big Scrub, the reason the Ocala National Forest was created. As you visit, take the opportunity to follow trails into the scrub to examine the unusual plants and lichens that thrive in Florida’s desert.

                                       <br /><h3>Outdoor Learning</h3><img alt="Show detail" src="https://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/PA_Recreation/images/plus.gif" /> SHOW                <h4>Interpretive Areas</h4>         <p>As a Civilian Conservation Corps-era recreation area and campground, Juniper Springs is a historic site with an interesting story to tell. Stop in the old Mill House to learn why and how the swimming area and campground were built, and how the mill used to provide electricity for the campground.</p>                                           <br /><h3>Water Activities</h3><img alt="Show detail" src="https://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/PA_Recreation/images/plus.gif" /> SHOW                <h4>Boating - Non-Motorized</h4>        <p>Canoe rentals are NOT CURRENTLY available on site. Juniper Run is a narrow, winding waterway set under a dense canopy of old-growth forest and few places solid enough to get out of your canoe. Just before the take out point near SR 19, the waterway broadens to encompass wetlands teeming with wading birds and wildlife.</p>                                  <p>Areas for Boating - Non-Motorized at Juniper Springs Recreation Area</p>     <h4>Swimming</h4>       <p>Juniper Springs is notable as a crystalline pool of spring outflow, shallow at one end and deep enough to jump into at the other. Natural tapegrass grows along the bottom of the spring. Don't be surprised to see an American eel amid the greenery.</p>                                               <h2>Amenities</h2>        <table><tr><th>Picnic tables</th>  <td>At the springs</td>  </tr><tr><th>Drinking  water</th>  <td>Non-potable water</td>  </tr><tr><th>Interpretive Site</th>  <td>Old Mill House</td>  </tr><tr><th>Toilets</th>  <td>Flush toilets</td>  </tr><tr><th>Parking</th>  <td>Ample parking</td>  </tr><tr><th>Fee charged for some activities</th>  <td>Multiple fees charged for various activities</td>  </tr><tr><th>Tent camping</th>  <td>Shady spaces</td>  </tr><tr><th>Accessible</th>  <td>Most pathways and the nature trail are wheelchair accessible</td>  </tr><tr><th>Camping trailer</th>  <td>Shady spaces. RVs welcome.</td>  </tr></table>                                                    </td>       </tr></table></td>          </tr></table> <!-- end of leftcol-->                        </td>                       <td>                                    <!--Rendering Table from UnlayeredContainer-V.jsp-->                                  </td>                         <td>                                    <!--Rendering Table from UnlayeredContainer-V.jsp-->                                     <!-- end of leftcol-->                         </td>                       <td>                                    <!--Rendering Table from UnlayeredContainer-V.jsp-->                                  </td>                         </tr></table></td>          </tr></table></td>

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