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.
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.