Juniper Springs Florida - Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping

Juniper Springs Run is a natural waterway that runs through the Ocala National Forest in Florida. Canoeing and kayaking (no motorboats allowed) are popular year round down the Run. The Run is about 7 miles with a current of 1 to 2 mph. The Run is spring feed with cool, crystal clear water. There is no development along the water banks as you gently glide through the Ocala National Forest and Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Flora and fauna are abundant. On any given trip you might see alligators, otters, turtles, bears, deer, raccoons, ospreys, egrets, and more. Semi-tropical vegetation, tall pines, and canopies of trees make for a peaceful water trip with only the sounds of nature surrounding you.

The canoe and kayak launch is accessed from Juniper Springs Campground, a national park and recreation area. It's best to go during a week day if possible. Weekends and holidays see heavy usage. A park entrance fee of $5 per person is collected at the gate that includes access to hiking trails, swimming, snorkeling, and facilities. They offer canoe rentals, or if you have your own you pay a $6 launch fee per boat. The cut off for launching is 12:30 p.m. since it is a 7 mile run. No fishing is allowed in the run and you cannot take any disposable containers. Thus, your drinking water needs to be in a thermos or other non-disposable container.

The first part of the run is winding and narrow to very narrow at times. Also, you may come across logs that you need to maneuver over, but for the most part it will be a slow moving, relaxing run. When you reach the bridge (SR 19), this is your take out point. If you are using your own canoe or kayak, you can plan your own shuttle by leaving a vehicle at the take out (no parking fee) or you can arrange a shuttle back with the Park.

The Park also offers camping under the huge live oaks. We prefer to primitive camp when available. No primitive camping is available at Juniper Springs Campground but for campground camping, I'd said it is pretty good. Sites are under beautiful shaded canopies and feel very private. It's listed in the top 100 of Family Campgrounds in the U.S.

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