You hear them well before you can see them: a burble of water that rises to a roar as you approach the Big Shoals of the Suwannee River, Florida’s largest series of rapids complete with hydraulics and holes and Class III whitewater at certain times of year.
Location: White Springs
Fees: $4 per vehicle
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Primitive camping on south side of river only
Leashed pets welcome
When the river is at just the right level, it’s a blast to ply a kayak down this mile of wild water; canoeists are encouraged to take out and use the portage trail on the south shore to avoid ripping a hole on the rugged limestone jutting out of the river.
Big Shoals State Park protects both sides of the river, offering fabulous hiking on the Florida Trail (south side) and on the Big Shoals and Long Branch Trails (north side). Road access is via the north side of the river, providing a portal to the Woodpecker Trail, a paved bike trail, as well as off-road biking trails, equestrian trails, and a put-in for paddlers.
Explore the park
- Big Shoals Trail- At Big Shoals State Park, the Big Shoals Trail leads you to scenic perches high atop the river bluffs when you can watch Florida's only Class III whitewater rapids
- Long Branch Trail- At Big Shoals State Park, the 2.4 mile Long Branch Trail heads upriver to follow a mellow Suwannee River—broad and shaded by overhanging tupelo trees
- Woodpecker Trail- The Woodpecker Trail at Big Shoals State Park provides a 7-mile wildlife-rich round trip ride, but watch out for those puddles! John plunges in anyway to get the story.