Big Shoals State Park lies along the Suwannee River one hour west of Jacksonville in Hamilton County, Florida. This picturesque recreational area boasts 80-ft limestone bluffs and the largest whitewater rapids in the entire state of Florida.
Guests love to visit this Florida state park for a chance to kayak, fish, hike, mountain bike, watch wildlife and more.
Pack a picnic lunch, binoculars, fishing gear, a kayak and/or a mountain bike for a relaxing day at Big Shoals State Park. Picnic areas with tables and grills are located at Big Shoals and Little Shoals. Twenty eight miles of multi-use trails extend through the park’s forest and along the river.
Here are some other activities that you can do during your visit to Big Shoals State Park:
Boating at Big Shoals State Park
Paddling in the Suwannee River is popular anytime of the year at Big Shoals State Park, except in the shoals. It is recommended that only experienced kayakers attempt these fast waters.
Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one locally. A canoe launch is located inside the park but may be closed when water levels reach 62 feet.
Hiking at Big Shoals State Park
Wander through the forests, swampland, lush hammock and along the Suwannee River during your visit to Big Shoals State Park. The park’s 28 miles of trails are multi-use for both hikers and mountain bikers. See wildflowers, ferns, palmettos, swamps and lots of wildlife as you explore these beautiful trails.
Here are a couple of the trails at Big Shoals State Park:
- The Nature Trail – This easy 4.5 mile multi-use trail flows through the forest, along a tall pine prairie and past the rapids, offering visitors spectacular views of nature and wildlife.
- The Woodpecker Trail – An easy 6.7 mile multi-use trail through the forest and out to the Big Shoals area. This fully paved trail leads from the Little Shoals area to the Big Shoals area.
- Mossy Ravine and Woodpecker Loop – A moderate 10.2 mile multi-use trail. This longer loop presents beautiful views of wildflowers and wildlife.
Biking at Big Shoals State Park
Paved roadways and windy, bumpy trails await guests inside Big Shoals State Park. Explore the trails that wind through the hardwood pine and palmetto forest and along the bluff. The trails offer picturesque views of the Suwannee River and Florida wildlife. Helmets are required for all riders under the age of 16.
Fishing at Big Shoals State Park
Fishing in the Suwannee River is popular within Big Shoals State Park. Anglers enjoy trying their hand at catching black crappie, channel catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish and bream. Be sure to pick up a Florida fishing license and pack your fishing gear before heading out.
Birding at Big Shoals State Park
Pack your binoculars and pick up a bird list at the park’s ranger station. Some of the many species that may be seen within the park include: bald eagles, herons, wild turkey, woodpeckers, wrens, egrets, warblers, vireos, swallows, thrashers, indigo buntings, Northern Mockingbirds, Red-tailed Hawks, wood ducks and Scarlet Tanagers.
Nature and Wildlife at Big Shoals State Park
Explore the nature trails for a chance to see a variety of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, wild turkeys, wading birds, snakes and alligators.
Pets at Big Shoals State Park
Pets are allowed at Big Shoals State Park as long as they are supervised and kept on a hand held leash no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not permitted inside any park buildings.
Camping Near Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals State Park is for daytime use only. But here are two nearby state parks that offer overnight accommodations:
Suwannee River State Park – 3631 201st Path, Live Oak
Thirty modern campsites with electric, water and sewer hookups, picnic tables and fire rings are nestled under the oaks and along the Suwannee River inside this popular state park. Group camping is also available.
O’Leno River State Park – 410 SE O’Leno Park Road, High Springs
O’Leno River State Park, 37 miles south of Big Shoals State Park, has modern and primitive campsites, group camping and a historic camping area.
The modern campground area has 61 campsites with electric and water hookups, picnic tables and in-ground grills and is close to restrooms and showers. The primitive camping area lies along the shoreline of Sweetwater Lake and is accessible only by foot (3 mile hike-in). If camping here you must bring in all of your supplies, including water, and plan to arrive at least 3 hours before sunset in order to hike out to the camping area.
The large developed group camp can accommodate up to 120 people and is located within walking distance to trails, a swimming area, boat launch, playground and the nature center and museum. This group camping area has 3 leader cabins, 13 sleeper cabins, 2 bathhouses and a dining hall with a full kitchen. The leader cabins have bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen; the youth cabins are just sleeping quarters with bunk beds.
Big Shoals State Park
11330 SE Co Rd 135
White Springs, FL 32096
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Big Shoals State Park: