Ocala topography is unique to Florida in its wide open spaces and rolling hills, which is ideal for raising cattle and equine livestock.
Known as the “Horse Capital of the World”, that title is easily identifiable as one travels the roads of Ocala, taking in the magnificent views of horse properties and grazing cattle.
Perhaps not as well known is the easy proximity to the natural wonders of the Ocala National Forest and multiple springs, trails, lakes, and waterways which are within a short drive from central Ocala. Outdoor enthusiasts will thrill in the multitude of daily adventures that lie just beyond the boundaries of the greater Ocala community.
Last week we visited Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs and Juniper Springs, which are all within an hour drive of downtown Ocala. Be warned, this will be a day to unplug and unwind, as there’s little cell reception once you enter the forest. Instead, embrace the opportunity to get “off the grid” and plan to reconnect with nature through an abundance of hiking trails, guided kayaking tours and crystal clear mineral springs.
“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. The Forest has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, including three first-magnitude springs where visitors can swim, snorkel, and dive in their crystalline waters year-round. Salt Springs Recreation Area is one of the recreational jewels of the Ocala National Forest. The recreation area is located in the lush, semi-tropical setting of central Florida. Within the recreation area is a natural spring rising from vertical fissures (cracks) from deep within the earth. The presence of potassium, magnesium and sodium salts give the waters in the spring a slight salinity. Hence the name Salt Springs.”
“Showcasing sparkling springs in a subtropical setting, Juniper Springs is one of the oldest and best-known recreation areas on the East Coast. Located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along SR 40, this complex of swimming and picnic area, campground, and trails was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The setting is unlike any other found in the United States, with hundreds of tiny bubbling springs and massive springs gushing out of crevices in the earth beneath a dense canopy of palms and oaks, an oasis within the heart of the desert-like Big Scrub.” Source: US Department of Agriculture.
Juniper Springs is slightly larger than Salt Springs, and at the entrance is a gorgeous mineral pond where you can take a dip and float in the crystal clear, healing mineral water. Throughout the year, the water remains a consistent 72 degrees, which is a refreshing experience when the temperature rises. Plan to make an overnight out of your adventure, as the camp sites are clean and the staff and campers are friendly! They offer a full range of home comforts, so even though you’re connecting with nature, you really don’t have to rough it!
While visiting Ocala Horse Properties during your tour of area real estate, we encourage you to take in all the sites of our region. So plan to take a few extra days to explore the area and you will understand why we choose to call Ocala home.