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Big Shoals State Park

 Activities at Big Shoals State Park

Bicycling

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.

Birding

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.

Canoeing & Kayaking

Canoeing & Kayaking

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.

Fishing

Fishing

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 license may be required.

Hiking/Nature Trail

Hiking/Nature Trail

Big Shoals offers 33 miles of trails for use by visitors. Hike along the Florida National Scenic Trail along the river bluffs 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. These trails are maintained by Florida Trail Association volunteers.

Horse/Equestrian Trail

Horse/Equestrian Trail

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.

Pets

Pets

Well-behaved dogs are welcome at Big Shoals State Park. They must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times and can not be left unattended for more than a half-hour.

Picnicking

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.

Wildlife Viewing

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.
 

Limited hunting is permitted inside the Wildlife Management Area for archery, muzzle loading, small game and turkey seasons. Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (386) 758-0525 for additional information. Hunting is prohibited in recreational use areas.