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Big Shoals State 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. Only experienced canoe and kayakers should attempt to navigate the Shoals. There is a portage area available for portaging around the Shoals.
Over 28 miles of wooded trails provide opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. Visitors who wish to view the Big Shoals rapids should park at the Big Shoals parking area and hike approximately 1 mile on the Big Shoals hiking trail (Yellow Blaze trail). There is no vehicle access to either the Big Shoals or Little Shoals rapids. The best way to access Little Shoals rapids is to enter the park through the Little Shoals entrance, drive down Road 1 and turn right on Road 6. Drive to the end of Road 6 where you will park your vehicle and hike approximately 0.5 mile down the Mossy Ravine trail (Blue Blaze trail) until you see the sign for Little Shoals.
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.
Please be aware that limited hunting is permitted during select seasons inside the neighboring Big Shoals Wildlife Management Area. Some of the park’s roads and trails traverse through the Wildlife Management Area. Hunting is strictly prohibited within the State Park boundaries. Hunting regulations and area map can be found by visiting Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision.
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History and Culture
Long ago, Native Americans used the Big Shoals area as a quarry site to make stone-chipped tools. They also frequented the sulphur springs in nearby White Springs until European settlers arrived in the early 1800s. William Brinton Hooker, one of Florida’s first cattle kings, settled on the northern shore of the Suwannee in the 1830s. Hooker raised scrub cattle and black seed cotton. He built a ferry across the river in the mid-1830s. In the early 1900s, the land was purchased for logging and turpentine. Longleaf pines in the park still bear the scars of cat-face stripping of bark to collect resins for naval stores production.
Big Shoals offers the only designated Class III rapids in the state of Florida. It earns this classification any time the water level of the Suwannee River is between 59 and 61 feet above mean sea level.
Getting Involved Opportunities:
There is a volunteer host site at the Big Shoals entrance of the park. This site provides volunteers with a concrete pad and hook-ups for an RV or motorhome. If you are in the mood for a change of pace, then consider volunteering and living in the middle of the Real Florida.
The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.
- $4 per vehicle. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Located at both Big Shoals and Little Shoals entrances. Correct change is required. Limit 8 people per vehicle.
- $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.