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USA Parks
USA Parks
Florida
Florida
North Central Region
North Central Region
Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals State Park
BIG SHOALS STATE PARK
BIG SHOALS STATE PARK
11330 S.E. County 135
White Springs, Florida   32096

Phone: 386-397-4331
This park features the largest whitewater rapids in Florida. Limestone bluffs, towering 80 feet above the banks of the Suwannee River, afford outstanding vistas not found anywhere else in Florida. When the water level on the Suwannee River is between 59 and 61 feet above mean sea level, the Big Shoals rapids earn a Class III Whitewater classification, attracting thrill-seeking canoe and kayak enthusiasts. A smaller set of rapids downstream is called Little Shoals. Over 28 miles of wooded trails provide opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. The Woodpecker Trail, a 3.4 mile long multipurpose paved trail, connects the Little Shoals and Big Shoals entrances to the park. The river offers excellent opportunities for freshwater fishing. A picnic pavilion that seats up to 40 people is available at the Little Shoals entrance. Located on County Road 135, one mile northeast of U.S. 41 in White Springs.
Nature of the Area
Birding

Birding enthusiasts will find a large variety of species at Big Shoals, including herons and egrets, wood ducks, red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks, woodpeckers, barred owls, ruby-throated hummingbirds, warblers, vireos, wrens, swallows and thrashers. Wild turkeys are usually plentiful and wading birds make regular visits. Bald eagles, northern mockingbirds, scarlet tanagers, the rufous-sided towhee, and indigo buntings also have been counted.

Wildlife Viewing

Wading birds, gopher tortoise, barred owls, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and timber rattlers are among the more populous species found at Big Shoals Public Lands. Marked trails offer many opportunities for viewing wildlife at both the Big Shoals and Little Shoals entrances. Maps are available at the kiosk at the Little Shoals entrance.
History of the Area
In the early 19th century (circa 1833-1843) a cow man named B. Hooker built a homestead on the crest of a ridge above the Suwannee River. Archeological findings suggest the land along both sides of the river supported human settlements during prehistoric times. Late in the 19th century the Old Godwin Bridge was built to span the river for both residential and commercial transportation. Floods swept the bridge away, but the pilings remain. From about 1910 until 1930 the Downing & Tuppins Turpentine Camp was the site of an African American community.

In the 1980s the State of Florida and the Suwannee River Water Management District purchased these lands with the intention of protecting the headwaters of the Suwannee River as it spilled out of the Okefenokee Swamp, as well as permanently protecting Big Shoals as the largest whitewater area in Florida. The land preserve also is intended to protect unique vistas and upland areas, historic sites along the Suwannee River, and the river floodplain.

Recreational opportunities associated with the Suwannee River, especially Big and Little Shoals rapids, have traditionally drawn many visitors to the area.
Canoeing
The Suwannee River's average current of 2 to 3 miles per hour and white sandy beaches have made the Shoals a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking. A canoe launch is located at the Big Shoals entrance. Canoeists should be aware that the shoals can be dangerous in both low and high water conditions. A portage area is provided on the left bank of the river traveling downstream. Canoe liveries are available in the area; visit our links to learn more.

The upper reaches of the Suwannee River provide great water for kayaking year-round, but water levels determine whether the shoals can be safely passed over or whether kayakers and canoeists should portage around the shoals. When the water level is between 59 and 61 feet above mean sea level, Big Shoals earns a Class III White Water classification for kayaking. At 70' above msl flatwater conditions prevail. When the water is below 51' above msl, exposed rocks make the river around the shoals relatively impossible to navigate. Suwannee River Water Management maintains a daily record of river levels.


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Picnicking
Take a morning hike or canoe trip and then enjoy a peaceful picnic at either Big Shoals or Little Shoals. Wooden picnic tables and grills are located off of Godwin Bridge Road at the Big Shoals entrance. A covered pavilion accessible by the Little Shoals entrance also contains picnic tables. Trash cans and restrooms are provided at both locations.
Bicycling
Extensive trails offer a variety of challenges to fat tire bicyclers through hardwood canopies, pine and palmetto forests and alongside the bluffs overlooking the Suwannee River. The Suwannee Bicycle Association sponsors several rides throughout the year. Visit our links page to learn more.
Trails
Nature Trails

Big Shoals offers 33 miles of trails for use by visitors. Hike along the ridgeline for unique vistas of the Suwannee River that are uncommon in Florida?s otherwise flat terrain. The topography ranges from flat expanses to steep slopes and ravines. Fifteen distinct natural communities are contained within the land preserve, from highland hammocks and sloping forests to pine flatwoods and the nearly primeval forest of the baygall. Ferns, palmettos, swamps, and the springtime beauty of wild azaleas in bloom are part of the scenery. Still in the development stage, the Woodpecker Trail will be a winding, four-mile paved route from the Little Shoals to Big Shoals entrance.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
March 7 Excellent Hiking by Bank Hiker
Yes there are White Water Rapids in Florda. Great trail not many people know about this park. Make sure you start from Big Shoals entrance - Little Shoals not that exciting. When I was there 3/7/2010 Rapids were Class 3. Will be there for July 4th Weekend.Make sure to visit Stephen Foster Park right down the road.


Directions
From I-75, take Exit 439 to Hwy 136 East.Go three (3) miles to US 41 and turn right.Go one (1) mile and turn left on Hwy 135.Little Shoals entrance is about 1.1 mile on the right.Continue on Hwy 135 for 2.2 miles for Godwin Bridge entrance on the right. From I-10, take Exit 301 and travel 8 miles on US 41 North.Turn right onto Hwy 135 and proceed to the Shoals entrances.

USA Parks
USA Parks
Florida
Florida
North Central Region
North Central Region
Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals State Park