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Canoeing and Kayaking - Ocala National Forest

Canoeing

The Ocala National Forestís canoeing adventures are many, as it contains approximately 600 lakes and ponds, several streams and has 2 rivers along its boundary. There is no whitewater such as you would find in the mountains, but a variety of streams awaits your visit.

Each stream has its own characteristics that make it unlike any other. Some, like Alexander Spring Creek, begin broad with slow moving water and then become narrow and deep downstream. Others, like Juniper Creek, start scarcely wider than the canoe and end up more than a hundred feet wide.

You can usually cover 2.5 miles per hour in open streams, assuming you periodically s

to enjoy the scenery. In streams with obstructing logs you may only move about 1.5 miles per hour.

The streams are kept in their natural condition. You wonít find roads running parallel alongside the stream. You may have to duck under low hanging tree branches or lift the canoe over partly submerged logs. The streams are left in these primitive conditions to provide a challenge and a sense of achievement, and to let visitors experience the quiet beauty of the unspoiled environment.

Be considerate of those who will canoe after you. Carry out all your trash so the stream will look natural. Please leave flowers, cypress knees, and shrubs for others to enjoy.

Canoe rentals are available from the concessionaire at Salt Springs Marina (352-685-2255), Juniper Springs (352-625-2808), Alexander Springs (352-669-3522), Silver Glen Springs (352-685-2799) and Clearwater Lake (352-669-0078) or you may bring canoes and paddle on your own. If you prefer, arrangements may be made with the concessionaire for rehaul service. Canoes need to be rented before 11am. Reservations are possible by calling each location, but canoes can also be rented on a "first-come, first-served basis".

Alexander Spring Creek

The water that pours from the giant spring flows for the first 5 miles as a broad, clear, slow-moving stream. After that, there is a transition to a narrow, winding stream and the once again the stream becomes broad and slow moving. This canoe run is usually open and is an easy trip. However, sometimes during the late summer, water hyacinths may jam the stream.

Juniper Creek

The canoe trip from Juniper Springs Recreation Area to Juniper Wayside flows about 7 miles through the heart of the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. You will be surrounded by a lush tropical forest comprised of palms, cypress and many kinds of southern hardwoods. The first 2.5 miles of this creek are narrow and winding, with a channel scarcely wider than 6 feet. Past Half-Way Landing, the stream broadens out and becomes shallow and slow moving. There are no intermediate access points, and the average family takes about 4-5 hours to complete the trip.

Salt Springs Run

Crystal-clear water gushes year round from the springs and flows about 5 miles before emptying into Lake George. Canoes can be rented and launched from Salt Springs Marina, located at the head of the Salt Springs Run. The Slow-moving current allows paddling back upstream to the Marina, rather than entering the often-rough Lake George. Powerboats are also available at the Marina and therefore, share the run with canoes.

Lower Ocklawaha River

This is a dark, slow-moving, twisting river with little fluctuation in water level. The current is slow enough so that you can paddle upstream. Put in at the Rodman Dam Landing and take out at the Highway 19 Landing, which is reached by paddling south just after passing under the Highway 19 bridge.

Upper Ocklawaha River

This twisting, dark-water river offers few public access points. There is no problem with logs or fluctuating water levels. The current flows fast enough to make it tiring to paddles upstream. Two days are required to make the entire trip, but you can launch a canoe or take it out at several points along the river, reducing total floating time. Those points are at Sharps Ferry, Wayside Park, Gores Landing, and Eureka Bridge. Limited overnight camping is available at Gores Landing.

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