Juniper Springs - Hidden Pond
Ocala National Forest
Three of us forum members decided to group together for an overnight hike from Juniper Springs - Hidden Pond and back. Total trip approx. 11-12 miles roundtrip.
We met at Juniper Springs Campground parking lot. Took a peek at the spring water swimming hole, before leaving on our overnighter. We checked our packs, topped off with water and hit the trail.
The majority of the hike is through Florida scrub palms, pine trees and every once in awhile, small Laurel Oaks. The trail is relatively easy hiking.
Along the trail are a few gradual rolling hills, just enough to let you know flat ground is not all there is. Kind of nice given so much of Florida is total flatland. Recent brush fires in the areas had made their way in a few spots, and the charred brush and trees were fallen all along the burned out prairies.
Still not bad hiking, the high-stepping comes into play anytime a series of down pines are across the path.
We marked a few alternative camp spots during the hike, just in case the popular Hidden Pond was packed with people later that afternoon. One that stood out was a small cluster of oaks right off the trail about 3 miles in. Some nice shade and the light breeze rolling across the prairie, nice spot to keep in mind.
We came over a steeper than normal hill and on the other side and could see the Hidden Pond among the oak trees. We arrived a few hours before
dark. Making it easy to find that perfect tree set of trees, and pull out the tarps & hammocks. We passed a Boy Scout Troop [20-30] also camping at Hidden Pond. They were already settling in on the farther side of the camping area. Not so close as to be loud at all. A relief to us all.
Hammock setup & playing with the straps and tie-outs days before, paid off as we had our hammocks up and ready in 10 minutes. All three of us were
happy with our decision on the Blackbird. You might have thought we were a Warbonnet Blackbird showroom, as we each ordered a different color/fabric weight. As it was beginning to get dark, we sat in our hammocks lounge chair style, rocking and talking about the hike. Hiking boots and socks now airing out away from our feet. Time to relax & unwind. Dinner thoughts not far. We opted for a simple dinner with quick sandwhiches & snacks. I think we were sound asleep before 9:00.
Good day of hiking.
I slept like a baby in a rocking cradle all night long. Temperatures not even below 60*, kept me outside of, but still under my sleeping bag. Later in the night I did crawl into my bag, but still comfortable sleeping. A great October Florida evening in the Hammock. Shorts, No socks, Light shirt sleeping.
Sunrise found us stirring and well rested. All three commenting on how well we slept. Coffee time & a Pecan Twirl or Pop-Tart for breakfast.
A lazy morning starting up. Damifino the first to pack up, due to other obligations later that afternoon needed to hit the trail early. Ed & I took our time getting packed, but were easily back to the truck by noon.
A great overnight in the three Warbonnet Blackbirds.