Southern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Juniper Prairie Wilderness. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Erythrina herbacea. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Polygala lewtonii. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Forest: National Forests in Florida, Ocala National Forest
District: Lake George Ranger District
Description: Pat's Island is one of the most popular historic attractions on the Ocala National Forest. The area was named after its first postmaster, Patrick Smith, who settled there in the 1840's. This area has a unique relationship of two ecosystems, longleaf pine and sand pine scrub.
Pat's Island is located in Juniper Prairie Wilderness where natural processes are the primary influence and human activity is limited. Forest Service management of Pat's Island preserves and protects its physical and biological characteristics and allows us to experience this treasure without intention to disturb or destroy natural processes. As a protected wilderness, the island is closed to motor vehicles, motorized equipment, and bicycles.
Viewing Information: Species commonly found in Pat's Island include sandhill milkweed (Asclepias huministrata), butterfly weed (A. tuberosa), greeneye (Berlandiera subcaulis), hairy trilisa (Carphephorus paniculatus), butterfly-pea (Centrosema virginianum), goldenaster (Chrysopsis subulata), stinging nettle (Cnidusculus stimulosus), twinflower (Dyschoriste oblongifolia), Florida elephant's-foot (Elephantopus elatus), Carolina rock-rose (Helianthemum carolinianum), gopherapple (Licania michauxii), rushweed (Lygodesmia aphylla), prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), sand squares (Paronychia rugelii), blackroot (Pterocaulon pycnostachyum), Darrow's blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii), shiny blueberry (V. myrsinitees), deerberry (V. stamineum). In the mature sand pine (Pinus clausa) scrub, the shrub layer is characterized by scrubs oaks, including sand live oak (Quercus geminata), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and Chapman's oak (Quercus chapmanii). Also found under the sand pines are rusty lyonia (Lyonia feruginea), shiny blueberry (Vaccinium myrsinites) and silk bay (Persea humilis). Many species of reindeer moss (Cladina spp.) are commonly encountered on the dry sands. Wildflowers that may be observed include, soft green eyes (Berlandiera pumilla), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), several milkweeds including, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), sandhill milkweed, (Asclepias humistrata), and white milkweed (Asclepias variegata), and Queen Anne's delight (Dicentra linearifolia), Ailicia (Chapmannia floridana), Garberia (garberia heterophylla), Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).
Safety First: Depending on the time of year you may find biting insects. Take proper precautions such as insect repellant and long clothing. This area is extremely hot during summer; drink plenty of fluids. Further, protect yourself from the sun by using long clothing or sun block.
Directions: You can visit Pat's Island via the Yearling Trail. The trailhead is located on SR 19 across from Silver Glen Springs entrance north of highway 40. From there you can hike six miles visiting various sites of historical significance and enjoy the vegetation and wild flowers.
Ownership: United States Forest Service, National Forests in Florida, Lake George Ranger District, 17147 E. Highway 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488, (352) 625-2520.
Closest Town: Salt Springs, Umatilla, and Astor; Florida.