Juniper Run, Paddling in Ocala National Forest. Detailed Map, Photos. PaddleFlorida.net

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Latest update: Oct. 2015

Juniper Run... Paddling in the Ocala National Forest

The paddling trail from Juniper Springs Recreation Area to Juniper Wayside Park extends about 7 miles. Paddling can be very technical especially at high water, best for experienced paddlers. There are no intermediate access points, the average trip is about 4 hours. (Detailed map and photos below.)

paddle Juniper Springs Run, kayak, canoe

Distance: 7 miles one-way from Juniper Springs to Juniper Wayside Park on SR 19
Location: Marion County (SR40 east of Ocala and Silver Springs)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Tidal: No
Launch points: Juniper Springs Recreation Area; Juniper Wayside Park (at the bridge on U.S. Highway 19) (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek), Appleton Museum of Art (Ocala), Silver Springs State Park

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Juniper Springs Recreation Area (park concessionaire, rentals, drop-off)

Juniper Springs Run... Comments and Photos

The spring is actually many springs both in the main spring bowl and along the spring run - watch and listen for them. This is a popular destination and can be very busy, especially on weekends. Be aware of the rules as they DO check your coolers and bags - no plastic bags or disposable containers are allowed, even candy bars need to be taken out of their wrappers. Check with the livery service for launch hours as well, everyone must be off the run by sunset and launch times are strictly enforced.


At the launch

We used the livery for a reverse pick-up (we dropped off our kayaks at the launch, drove our car to Wayside Park and they drove us back). From the staging area a boardwalk leads to the launch, carts are provided.


Upper section

The first 1.5 miles is the prettiest - narrow and winding, with crystal clear, shallow water - but also swift moving. Some downed trees required maneuvering around and under.


Middle section

The middle section alternates between wider, deeper water and narrower runs. A rapids runs here - our camera died just then and not a good point to pull out the backup, so no photos! There were some obstacles to maneuver around.


Lower section

At the bottom, the creek widens out through wetlands before arriving at Wayside Park - a good section for viewing birds and alligators.


Wayside Park

Paddling take-out point, the outfitter at the park picks up here. Parking, restrooms.


Wildlife, Flora and Fauna

Wildlife along the spring run include deer, otters, raccoons, alligators, birds, and black bears. The run goes past palms, cypress and southern hardwoods plus sawgrass and wetlands.


Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest is one of the oldest in the U.S., constructed by the CCC in the 1930's. Of historical interest is the Millhouse - since the area was far from any sources of electricity, the millhouse was built to use the spring itself to generate power. The recreational area includes camping, picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. An 8-mile segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail runs through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness.

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