Showcasing sparkling springs in a subtropical setting, 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 (CCC). The setting is unlike any other found in the United States, with 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 Big Scrub.
Pets: Dogs are welcome on the forest, but are required to be on a leash at all times. Dogs are not allowed on the beach at swimming areas. For more information, please contact Lake George Ranger Station at 352-625-2520.
At a Glance
8 AM to 8 PM; closing hours vary by season.
Reservations may be made by phone at 1-877-444-6777 or online:
Rentals & Guides:
On-site concessionaire with canoe rentals. Fees
$33.00 + tax (includes shuttle transport). (+$20 deposit for canoe use)
If you bring your own canoe/kayak:
$6 launch fee
$6 haul-back fee
Interpretive Site,Accessible,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
No wading in the spring runs; no fishing in the springs or runs.
Astor to the east 9 miles along SR 40, and Forest Corners to the west, provide grocery stores, hardware, gas stations, and ATMs.
Ocala National Forest Recreation Area Pass- $60 per person; good from date of purchase through end of the year. Provides entrance to our concession-managed recreation areas: Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Clearwater Lake, and Wildcat Lake. Purchase at a recreation area entrance station.
Large parking area for day use. Overnight parking available for backpackers for a fee.
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.
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.
Paths are wheelchair accessible from the parking area to the bathhouse, swimming area, and along the spring run Nature Trail.
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.
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.
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:
The area immediately north of Juniper Springs Recreation Area - the Juniper Prairie Wilderness - underwent a severe wildfire in the winter of 2009. Many notable landmarks and shady oak hammocks are no longer there.
There is a $10 overnight parking fee for backpackers departing from Juniper Springs
No permits are required for backpacking.
Bear bagging is required in this area.
Winter and spring
Hours of Operation:
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.
The bridge between the mill and the upper picnic area is presently closed, as is the picnic shelter near Fern Hammock Springs. The bridge over the main boils at Fern Hammock at Juniper Springs is closed for repairs until further notice.
included in recreation area fee
Hours of Operation:
8 AM to 8 PM
Areas for Day Hiking at Juniper Springs Recreation Area
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.
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
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.
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.
Included in recreation area fee
Hours of Operation:
8 AM to 8 PM
Boating - Non-Motorized
Canoe rentals are available on site, and include haul-back from one of the most spectacular canoe runs in the United States. 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.
Canoe rentals are available at the concession stand until 11:30 a.m.