Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs

Florida Geological Survey, Bulletin 66 (Photo by H. Means)

Juniper Springs is a 2nd Magnitude spring located in the center of the Ocala National Forest and serves as its central feature.  The spring is unlike any other in that it flows from the higher elevations of the sand pine hills that surround it.  The rare beauty of this spring may have been one of the reasons why President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1908, designated the Ocala National Forest as the first National Forest east of the Mississippi.

Fern Hammock Springs

Juniper Creek

Whenever Juniper Springs is mentioned it should be noted that Fern Hammock Springs is included.  Fern Hammock spring is actually a scenic group of about 20 smaller springs within Juniper Springs Recreation Area.  Fern Hammock is sometimes listed separately as it truly has visual characteristics that are unique.   Access is from the hiking trail starting at the main spring.  Swimming or wading is not permitted in Fern Hammock to protect its fragile environment. However, a visit to Fern Hammock Springs should not to be missed especially by photographers or lovers of nature’s jewels.  The discharge of Fern Hammock Springs is about the same as that of Juniper Springs and the two join to form of Juniper Creek.

Margaret Ross Tolbert

Margaret Ross Tolbert
Blew Light Into My Face, 2004
oil on canvas. 138 x 90 in.

Improvements at Juniper Springs Recreation Area including a water wheel and mill house that were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the mid-thirties. The work that was done by the CCC remains giving the main swimming area an atmosphere of years gone by.  More modern facilities such as a campground and camp store have been built and rebuilt but the major elements of the CCC work remain.  The water wheel’s mill house now houses a display of Juniper Springs history.  A major activity at Juniper Springs Recreation Area is canoeing the seven mile run of Juniper Creek.

The Florida Geological Survey (FGS) is charged with documenting the characteristics of Florida’s springs. The most recent springs compendium edition is Bulletin 66, (2004) which lists the discharge rates for Juniper and Fern Hammock Springs as shown below.    As you can see below discharge from both springs is about equal.  It is surprising to realize that Fern Hammock has the greater flow.   However, the discharge of both is modest in comparison to the energy and volume of 1st magnitude springs.

Juniper Springs Discharge

All discharge rates measured in cubic feet /second

February 10, 1931 0.5    (estimated)
April 13, 1935 8.94
December 16, 1935 15.7
Annual Mean 1936 13.1   ( 4  measurements)
March 11,1937 12.8
April 4, 1946 14.1
April 23, 1956 9.66
November 5, 1960 13.6
April 19, 1972 10.1
Annual Mean 1985 12.2     (5  measurements)
Annual Mean 1990 9.12     (6  measurements)
Annual Mean 1995 11.96  (4 measurements)
Annual Mean 2000 8.81     (5  measurements)
Annual Mean 2001 8.24     (4 measurements)

Fern Hammock Springs Discharge

All discharge rates measured in cubic feet /second

December 16, 1935 15.5
Annual Mean 1936 16.8    (5 measurements)
March 11, 1937 15.6
April 4, 1946 17.6
April 23, 1956 11.6
November 15, 1960 17.7
April 19, 1972 12.7
Annual Mean 1985 13.6   (4 measurements)
Annual Mean 1990 11.0   (6 measurements)
Annual Mean 1995 13.0   (4 measurements)
Annual Mean 2000 10.9    (5 measurements)
Annual Mean 2001 10.6    (4 measurements)



Florida Geological Survey,  Bulletin 66 Springs of Florida  (2004)

Designating and preserving Juniper Springs and Fern Hammock Springs and environs so many years ago evidenced a true wisdom for cherishing the beauty of Florida and the United States.  We are now thankful for that insight.