Fern Hammock Springs
- Scale -2nd magnitude
- Scenery -excellent
- How Pristine? -bridge over main pool, undergrowth cleared around spring, campground and trails near spring, mostly natural
- Swimming -no
- Protection -excellent
- Crowds -small
- Access -excellent
- Facilities -fine nearby
- Safety -excellent
- Scuba -no
- Cost -$5.50 per person
In campground at Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest--link and map at www.juniper-springs.com/.
Located in the middle of the campground at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area. To reach the recreation area (which is clearly signposted), drive 5 miles east of the junction of State Roads 19 and 40 on SR 40. The recreation area is on the north side. Ask for directions to the spring at the Juniper pay station. Fern Hammock is about ¼ mile east of Juniper Springs. Link to map and information on adjacent Juniper Springs at www.juniper-springs.com/
The spring pool is roughly oblong and 60 by 150 feet in diameter. A wooden footbridge arches over the center of the pool. On either side of the bridge, at depths of 3-8 feet, are several large (up to 10 feet in diameter) white sand boils. Two-three dozen smaller sand boils are also visible. Individual sand boils are circular, while overlapping boils and boil clusters form non-uniform shapes with rounded edges. The water is clear in the spring and can be greenish or blue. In contrast to the water and the aquatic vegetation, the boils take on a glowing appearance in the sunlight and present a striking visual effect.
The spring forms a shallow run that flows about 200 yards into Juniper Creek. There are trails along the run, and more sand boils can be observed in the run. Water in the run is also clear, and Rosenau et al., (1977) report that the water flowing from Fern Hammock Springs is very low in dissolved solids (p. 261).
- The spring is for observation only, to protect the distinctive and fragile sand boils and natural character of the site. Signs warn visitors to keep out of the water and that there are alligators in the spring. In two visits, the authors did not see any alligators.
- A nature trail connects Fern Hammock and Juniper Springs.
- The spring is located in the midst of the Juniper Springs recreation area, which offers camping (60 RV sites and 19 tent sites), swimming, canoeing (with drop-off and pick-up), canoe rentals, rest rooms, concessions, visitor center, museum, picnic facilities, and showers.
- A photo of Fern Hammock is featured on the cover of Springs of Florida, produced by the Florida Geological Survey--see www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/springs/bulletin66.htm
- Alexander Springs
- Salt Springs
- Juniper Springs
- Sweetwater Spring
- Silver Glen Springs
- Silver Springs
- DeLeon Spring
- Orange Spring
- Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge
- Welaka State Forest
- Tiger Bay State Forest
- Withlacoochie State Forest
The authors had each been to Juniper twice before realizing Fern Hammock was just a few minutesí walk away. The spring is unique and appealing for its huge sand boils that seem to have an otherworldly gleam.