Trail crews hit the Ocala section quickly and have removed as much in the way of deadfall and blowdowns as they could on a first pass. Expect to see a lot of dead trees trailside. The area is high and dry.
After their emergency closure of Juniper Prairie Wilderness on February 8 because of bear-human interaction, the closure has been lifted earlier than first promised.
What happened? Bears have discovered hikers have food. Too many hikers at Hidden Pond have not hung their food properly or used bear canisters. A bear started rummaging through tents and hammocks for food. Bears are also browsing the campground at Juniper Springs, but that’s nothing new.
Bears acclimated to camper garbage have been an issue in the Ocala for over a decade. The US Forest Service put a bear bag rule in effect in ALL of the National Forests in Florida back in 2009. Be sure to follow it: hang your food properly, or use a canister or UrSack.