09 Nov Hiking in the Ocala National Forest: Juniper Springs to Hidden Lake
This weekend, we tried out another form of foot powered travel. We decided to hike in the Ocala National Forest from Juniper Springs to Hidden lake.
Whenever we are not pedaling our bicycles, we like to try to do some other fun things: preferable something affordable, outdoors, and if all possible something that does not involve a lot of motorized power, but something we can do through our own manpower.
If we would not have discovered bike touring several years ago, we would have probably tried to discover the world on foot with a fully stuffed backpack.
Maybe one of these days we will try to travel even slower than usually and hike the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, or maybe one of the many routes to Santiago, or follow the footsteps of the lost civilization of the Incas.
Unfortunately, those plans may have to wait a little while, so for now we are content to hike as many fun areas in Florida as possible. Like the Ocala National Forest. Not only is it one of the biggest national forests in Florida, it also has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs to discover within it.
The Ocala National Forest, located north of Orlando, is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. –http://www.fs.usda.gov/ocala
Our hike led us from Juniper Springs Recreational Area, where it is possible to safely park our car, to Hidden Lake and back out, which is 6 miles each way.
We have hiked this stretch of the Florida Scenic Trail a few times several years ago. Then, we were the only ones camped out at the Hidden Lake. Since then, it looks like this hidden treasure has become a popular weekend destination for hikers. This weekend, we were just another couple among many other hiking groups trying to escape the city life.
Nonetheless, we enjoyed the hike, which has tremendously improved since the last time we were here. 5 years ago, a forest fire has burned down most of the bushes, brush, and trees and left us hiking mostly out in the open, in the dry heat under the beaming sun. Now, much of the shrubs and pines have grown enough to spend some shade again, which made the hike much more enjoyable and scenic.
For more information on the Florida Scenic Trail visit:Pedal Power Touring