Ascent of Juniper Springs State Recreation Area High Point on 2016-02-07

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Daniel Musser
David Musser
Benjamin Musser
Date:Sunday, February 7, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Juniper Springs State Recreation Area High Point
    Elevation:75 ft / 22 m

Ascent Trip Report

We awoke on day 3 after a second night of camping. The rain got the boys soaked as the old backpacking tent suddenly lost its water proofing. It was a cold night down near freezing. We packed out and hiked towards the springs. We paid the $20 fee for 4 at the gate and got fresh water and ate breakfast in the park.It was so cold we had the spring to ourselves. Threatened and Endangered needle palm and coontie were everywhere two of my favor active plants. I startled a huge barred owl and David and I found him up a tree and filmed as he made a lot of noise at our encroachment into his territory. As my sons ate more food, I walked up the road to go tag the days highpoint destination. Since the recreational area is not a true state park I could find no defined boundary between it and the rest of the forest so used the small nub ridge on the west side of the recreational area that is on the Florida Trail. The hike along the FL Trail N to NW is short and through more scrub. You pass a gateway sign into the rest of the FL trail domain and are essentially leaving the recreational area and the trail meanders up to the highest point in FL trail and then descends. The nub on the USGS map is a short bushwhack to the west and some thick vegetation. Calling that the destination "peak" of the day it was all about getting back to our car many miles away. This is not a verified true boundary between the spring rec area and the rest of the forest so I am not sure how important it is to find an exact coordinate in the scrub. The purpose of setting the destination is to have something to "bag" in this very nice spring park area off of the Florida Trail instead of having to bushwhack random hill crests all day. Florida peakbagging is a different breed of animal for sure but it can still be fun until you can get back to the real mountains. This area at least has some aesthetic, wildlife, and recreational things to do and has a real trail.

We all regathered at the trail head of the FL trail where it crosses the spring entrance road. The FL trail along this entire day of hiking was different than the previous day of all scrub. We were immediately hiking on the interface between scrub and pond/slash pine ad loblolly bay forest. After crossing SR 40 south there were some very nice stretches of oak hammock and even some cabbage palm hammock along the way. One you are about 4 miles away from the Farles Prairie and lake area where our truck was the terrain is very different. It was some of the most attractive landscape I have ever seen along the FL trail system. There were ephemeral marshes, marshes, and lakes all surrounded by sparse pine and low grasses (broomsedges, centipede grasses, and cordgrasses) but no wire grass like in Wekiva State Park. This allowed for large vistas down on the marshes from the pine with very little under-story so you cold see for miles unlike most natural Florida systems. It ended up being another 15 mile day so the trip in all was over 30 miles. The hilly terrain along the way provided for a day with about 600 feet of total gain which is outstanding for FL hiking! BUT bottom line you have to walk 15 miles to get 600 feet. Ha!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:635 ft / 192 m
    Total Elevation Loss:605 ft / 183 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.7 mi / 23.7 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Clear
Cloudy then clear and cold 40 to 48 F
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:65 ft / 19 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 50 ft / 15 m; Extra: 15 ft / 4m
    Loss on way in:15 ft / 4 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    Route:varied see TR and Florida Trail
    Start Trailhead:Juniper Spring below springhead  25 ft / 7 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:590 ft / 179 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 20 ft / 6 m; Extra: 570 ft / 173m
    Gain on way out:570 ft / 173 m
    Distance:12.9 mi / 20.8 km
    Route:varies see TR and FL Trail
    End Trailhead:Farles Lake TH  55 ft / 16 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Ocala Forest Backpaking

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Ocala National Forest High Point2016-02-061139 ft / 347 m
2Juniper Springs State Recreation Area High Point2016-02-07 b635 ft / 194 m
Total Trip Gain: 1774 ft / 541 m    Total Trip Loss: 1773 ft / 540 m

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