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  1. #1
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    08-08-2013
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    Default Off the beaten path near Hidden Pond

    I hiked from Juniper Springs Rec area out onto Hopkins and back a couple of times several years ago. Govt shutdown may kill my upcoming trip to Cumberland Island in a couple of weeks and I'm considering going back to Ocala as a replacement trip since I liked it so much.

    I'd like to do a bit of poking around off trail while I'm there. Are there any good spots/spur trails etc to visit or camp at? I'm generally familiar with the trail, but I haven't explored anything off the main Florida Trail on previous trips. Any info would be appreciated. Specifically: I've seen mention of Crooked Springs in several places and am wondering if that would be a good place to visit and how to get there.

    Thanks--

    schlanky

  2. #2

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    To get to Crooked Saplings prairie, hike to hidden pond and then take a trail(north-side if coming from Juniper) around the pond leading to a large fire pit/camp area. This is a popular camping spot and can be crowded at times. Beyond that fire pit is crooked springs prairie. The large pond across the prairie is crooked saplings pond. If you hike to the left, from the main fire pit, there are multiple established campsites. You can even go around to the other side, toward crooked saplings pond, and camp there. It is not easy to get water from crooked saplings pond as it is surrounded by heavy vegetation but it's not impossible, either. In any case, there's a lot of water out on the prairie right now so it's not absolutely necessary to go back to hidden pond for water refills.

    To the right, out of the main fire pit around hidden pond, there is a large established site about 100 yards with great views of the prairie. It's popular though and you'll have to luck into it. If you continue past that site and around a slight bend, the open prairie continues for about 1/4th of a mile north. I've stayed a few times right at the bend and find it peaceful when there are lots of people at the main camp spots. I also see more birds and wildlife when I camp at this spot. If you use Google, satellite view, the directions I mentioned will make more sense.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Many thanks, martinb!

  4. #4

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    You're welcome. Might head out there for the blood moon Sun.

  5. #5
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    08-08-2013
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    Default

    The satellite view was a great recommendation that I should have done earlier. Pairing up what you wrote with what I remember from previous trips was helpful, and the satellite view gave me a much better understanding of the general layout than the trail map. Most of my trips are in places where a satellite view wouldn't help much, but this one definitely does.

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