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USA Parks
North Central Region
Big Shoals State Park
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Big Shoals State Park © Yinan Chen / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Free stock photos and public domain pictures of the waterfall, the Suwanee River, and more at Big Shaols State Park
Big Shoals State Park © Archbob / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Waterfalls and Rapids at Big Shoals State park
Big Shoals State Park © Michael Rivera / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Long Branch Trail, Big Shoals State Park, Hamilton County, Florida
Big Shoals State Park © Michael Rivera / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Suwannee River, Big Shoals State Park, Hamilton County, Florida
Big Shoals State Park © Yinan Chen / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Free stock photos and public domain pictures of the waterfall, the Suwanee River, and more at Big Shaols State ParkShore, sky, and some white clouds at Big Shaol
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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 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.
Annual Entrance Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums. If you require immediate use of your pass, this is the best option. Passes can be purchased during regular business hours 365 days a year. Please call the park in advance to ensure availability. Those who are eligible for discounted or free passes may use this method to receive their pass. Annual Entrance Passes may be purchased online by visiting the FLORIDA STATE PARKS ANNUALENTRANCE PASSES web page.
The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities, with the Suwannee River providing an ideal location for these water sports. However, it's important to note that due to strong currents and large shoals in certain areas, only experienced canoeists or kayakers should navigate this river section when the water level is 61 feet above mean sea level at White Springs gauge (or higher). The boat ramp located within Little Shoals provides easier access into calmer waters suitable for less-experienced paddlers as well. Motorized boats can also be used on most parts of the river but may have difficulty navigating through some sections during low-water conditions.

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.
Located in Florida, the park offers freshwater fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch largemouth bass, catfish and bream here. The Suwannee River is a popular spot for canoe-based angling. Fishing licenses are required to fish within its boundaries.

Big Shoals State Park is located near Lake City

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.
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.
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.
The park offers birdwatchers a variety of species, including warblers, hawks and owls. Birding trails are available for exploration. The diverse habitats attract different types of birds throughout the year.

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Area Campgrounds
Suwannee Valley Resort LLC
786 North West Stephen Foster Drive
White Springs, FL
Waynes RV Resort
427 Southwest County Road 252B
Lake City, FL
Lake City Campground
4743 N U.S. 441
Lake City, FL
Nearby Hotels
- Pets must be kept on a handheld leash that is six feet or shorter at all times.
- Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.
- Pets, excluding service animals, are not allowed inside any buildings within the park premises.
- All pets should have current vaccinations and licenses as per Florida law requirements.
- Aggressive behavior from pets will not be tolerated; such incidents may result in expulsion from the park.
- Dogs cannot interfere with wildlife - chasing or harassing wildlife is strictly prohibited.

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.

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