Ocala, FL: Juniper Prairie Wilderness

Explore log bridges, pine forest, and white sand dunes in one of Florida's most pristine wetlands.
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Leading from the lush tropical paradise of Juniper Springs Recreation Area to the crystalline waters of spring-fed Hidden Pond, this dayhike on the Florida Trail offers a rare opportunity to cool down at both ends. From the entrance road near FL 40, turn right and hike 1.2 miles north into the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Walk the well-trod footpath through a maze of young sand pines, then cross over a mosaic of prairies, flatwoods ponds, and oak hammocks. Logs bridge the gap at Whispering Creek where the whiskey-colored tannic water sluices under the bridge. Emerging from the shaded route, enter a scrub forest where the heat shimmers on the white sand of the ancient dunes. Skirt around a large sinkhole to reach Hidden Pond, then cool off in the shallow water before heading back to Juniper Springs.-Hike courtesy of Sandra Friend, "The Florida Trail: The Official Hiking Guide" (Westcliffe Publishers)

Waypoints

Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Location: 29.1830395, -81.7123604

Hidden Pond

Location: 29.2217553, -81.6935849

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