This is the 4th river in our 5 day multi-paddle trip. We packed up our campsite at Fore Lake and got back down to the SR40 and headed east to the Juniper Creek Recreation area also in the Ocala National Forest. This is our second paddle on the Juniper this year (see my March 2006 review). It definitely has that otherwordly quality that brings me back. It's odd that I just did this run in March and it seemed totally different.
You have to pay to get into the park, even if you are just dropping off the yaks and driving right out to go to the take out. When you drive your own car to the take out, the shuttle is 6 dollars back to the put-in.
Use the parks wheeled canoe carts to carry your yak down the long winding path to the drop in. The drop-in is super shallow and crystal clear, but instantly goes into real forest. It is very enclosed and winding at the beginning. How (or why) people do it in a canoe, I have no idea. But it does seem like a good way to get out of a relationship. If I did this in a canoe with someone, I'm quite sure I would want to beat them senseless within the first mile. Some areas, I don't know how it's even possible to get thru in a canoe, but that is what the park rents. But, back to kayaking.
Perhaps this wasn't the best chose for the last day of a 5 day/4 river paddle trip because it's not very relaxing. The Juniper is work -- well worth it -- but work. We did this on a Wednesday and didn't see another living soul the entire trip. We did see wonderful birds, a wild turkey, and 4 gators. Since this is a thin and winding run, there is no other path besides right next to them.
I would not recommend this run to beginners. It's a little difficult for that. It's 7 miles (4 hours) of turning and directing and dodging and ducking. But for those with some skills, you'll love it!
P.S. they have removed all gators over 6 feet since the brilliant chick earlier this year decided to snorkel in the marsh section and met her fate.
Parking lot, small shop for last minute snacks, canoe rental, swimming hole in the spring head, picnic area.
Park entrance $4 each.
Juniper Creek recreation area is on SR 40 in the middle of the Ocala National Forest.