Juniper Springs Trip Report


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Ted and Joanne Wendel | VCKC
Published Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Date: 16 December 2003

Location:  Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest

Number of Paddlers:  10

Boats:  5 Canoes

Travel Time From Hacienda Hills to Park:  Approx  1 hour

Boat Rentals

Concessionaire rents only canoes and charged $26 plus tax for canoes (15' and 17' lengths) plus a $20 refundable deposit.  For those bringing their own boats there is a $5 transportation fee and the $20 refundable deposit.  Rental price included paddles, life preserves, whistles and return transportation from pick-up.  They charge $5 should you lose your whistle (some speculated whether the whistle was sanitized). In addition there is a $4 per person fee to enter this portion of the Ocala National Forest.  The concessionaire had approx 36 canoes, which were either composite or aluminum.   Paddlers must transport their boats from the concession area to the water.  Wheeled carriers are provided and must be returned before you begin the paddle; the trail to the put-in is paved and downhill to the water.  The take-out, at the end of the trip, is immediately past and to the right of the only bridge encountered.  We were told that the concessionaire would begin to make pick-up trips with their van every 45 minutes after 1330 hrs, it is advisable to have a cell phone to call for pick-up.  The van held 10 comfortably and 12 in a pinch, the trailer held 6 boats.  It was a 10 minute drive from take out back to park.  Across the river from the take-out is a beach area that looked nice, water was still crystal clear.  Someone mentioned that swimming is allowed there.  Juniper Springs has a nice swimming area at the start of the springs.  Signs were posted prohibiting disposables on river and violators were subject to fines.


Air Temperature and Weather Conditions

70 degrees, dry with moderate breeze.

Water and Terrain

Starts out at put-in as a 5-ft wide creek just inches deep.  The creek slowly widens as you paddle but there are many shallow spots throughout.  The water is crystal clear and has a strong current, we encountered many hairpin turns and water obstructions that required constant adjustments to navigate around, through and under.  The obstacles include sandbars, submerged branches and tree trunks.  In addition there were many low overhangs, some of which appear immediately after a sharp turn.  It seemed that half the trip was spent paddling under a canopy of tall trees that presented a wild and tropical feeling that was enhanced by the narrowness of the river.   By the mid-point, the river widened a bit and the trees gave way to saw grass with visible channels to follow.  There were many branches of the river and the concessionaire's advise was to follow the current and the fallen leaves on the river.  We noted that almost all the branches were around islands that merged together and that would make getting lost a slim possibility.

Trip Length

7 miles.  Put in water at approx 0930 and arrived at take-out approx 3 ½ hours later.  Some ate lunch in their boat and some stopped at a landing at a halfway point.  There was a wooden pier at that spot that had an “unsafe” and  “keep-off” sign posted but pier appeared strong.
 
Wildlife Sightings

Some saw an medium size alligator on the riverbank that was  very close to their canoe.  Also observed were deer, raccoons, turtles and some bird life.  No signs of fish in water.

Difficulty Rating

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most difficult) consensus was this trip was a 10 based on current and types of obstructions that required constant and high level of paddling skills to include the ability to “read” the water for submerged obstacles.   All agreed that this is not a trip for less than experienced paddlers and that this it is not a trip for a large number of boats due to the potential for pile-ups at obstacles.

Enjoyment Rating

Not asked of group but feeling is that despite the degree of effort it was a very rewarding paddle.  No one tipped over which always makes for a good trip.

Recorders

Ted and Joanne Wendel

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008



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