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Big Shoals State Park




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General Information

Description - 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 30 miles of wooded trails provide opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. The Woodpecker Trail, a four 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.

Attractions - 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.

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.

Recreation - 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 Suwannee River offers excellent opportunities for fresh water fishing. Large mouth bass, black crappie, several types of sunfish and bream, and channel catfish are plentiful. A fishing permit is required.

Ride on marked trails with friends, or join a ride sponsored by the Santa Fe Trail Riders. Proof of a negative Coggins test is required.

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

Climate - Florida's weather is dominated by the water that surrounds it. The Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Gulf of Mexico in the west provide a stabilizing force that maintains the mild climate. Northern Florida is considered sub tropical, although it does receive some snow. This area is drier than the rest of the state. Southern areas of the state, definitely the Keys, lie within a tropical climate. Humidity is high, a characteristic of the climate, although the temperatures usually don't extend past 90 degrees F.

On the average the state receives 50 to 65 inches of rain. Summer is the rainy season, which extends into October in the south. Hurricane season begins in late August. Some hurricanes can bring up to 25 inches of rain. An average of two hurricanes per season reach the Florida peninsula. Most often these storms reach the Atlantic Coast rather than the Gulf Coast.

Location - Take Interstate 75 to Hwy 136 East (Milepost Exit 439 Old Exit 84). Go three miles to Hwy 41. Turn right and travel less than a mile to Hwy 135. Turn left on Hwy 135. Little Shoals entrance is approximately 5 miles on the right. To enter through the Big Shoals entrance, continue past the Little Shoals entrance for another 4.5 miles. Big Shoals entrance is on the right.


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More Information

Contact Information:
Big Shoals State Park, P.O. Drawer G , White Springs, Florida, 32096, Phone: 386–397–4331
, michael.strivelli@dep.state.fl.us

Additional Information:
Florida State Parks - The mission of the Florida Park Service is to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources.

Links:
Florida Division of Recreation & Parks - Official agency website

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