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Juniper Prairie Wilderness

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A large tree bent out over a small pond, the foliage above creating a dense green ceiling, reflected on the surface of the water.
Library image #396: Photo of the Juniper Springs run.

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Juniper Prairie Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 14,293 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Florida and is managed by the Forest Service.

Description

Not only does this Wilderness cover more ground than any other in Ocala National Forest, it also contains the most diverse ecosystems. An eight-mile stretch of the north-south Florida National Scenic Trail runs through here, providing access to prairies, pine flatwoods, a marsh, even a subtropical jungle of palms, swamp hardwoods, and saw grass near Juniper Springs. Shallow lakes rimmed by oak and pond pine dot the prairies, which in turn are bordered by scrubby sand pine. Remnants of old logging roads likewise delve into the Wilderness. From Juniper Springs Recreation Area Campground, canoeists can enjoy seven miles of easy paddling down a sparkling clear, shallow creek. On the way to a takeout on Highway 19, you might spot alligators, snakes, deer, and numerous wading birds. Canoes are the only craft allowed on Juniper Creek. Rentals are available, and a commercial operator offers haul-backs to the starting point. Cost for canoe and haul-back runs about $20 to $25. Canoe reservations are recommended; phone (904) 625-2808. As with most national forestland, primitive camping is permitted almost everywhere.

Planning to Visit the Juniper Prairie Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.