Big Shoals State Park in North Florida offers visitors a rare opportunity to see rapids and waterfalls in Florida. The shoals at the park are unique geological formations created by the swift flow of water over rocky limestone outcroppings. As the state’s largest whitewater rapids, the shoals are a stunning sight to behold with sparkling white water cascading over the rocks. Go during the dry season (usually winter) to see the most impressive mini waterfalls. With the park’s diverse ecosystems and abundance of wildlife, visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
Getting to Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals is jointly managed through the Florida State Park system, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Forest Service. There are two main entrances to the park: Big Shoals, and Little Shoals. These entrances are just down the road from each other. The Big Shoals entrance is home to the Big Shoals Trail, a restroom, and paddling launch. It’s a bit of a drive down a bumpy dirt road to the trailhead area.
Activities at Big Shoals State Park
There are over 28 miles of paved, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails throughout the Big Shoals area.
Hiking: To view the Big Shoals rapids, park at the Big Shoals parking area and hike about one mile on the Big Shoals hiking trail (Yellow Blaze trail). It’s considered moderately strenuous, but it’s not difficult other than roots on the trail and some mild elevation changes. Listen for the rapids- you’ll hear them before you see them!
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 miles down the Mossy Ravine trail (Blue Blaze trail) until you see the sign for Little Shoals. There is no direct vehicle access to either the Big Shoals or Little Shoals rapids.
The Woodpecker Trail, a 3.4-mile-long multipurpose paved trail, connects the Little Shoals and Big Shoals entrances to the park.
Kayaking & Paddling: There is a paddling launch located at the Big Shoals entrance. Paddling along the Suwannee River is a great experience. Although allowed, paddling the shoals is not recommended and only experienced canoe and kayakers should attempt to navigate the shoals. There is an area available for portaging around the shoals. The paddling launch closes when the water levels are high. We recommend calling the park in advance if you’d like to launch here.
Other Activities: fishing, picnicking, biking, horseback riding
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Big Shoals State Park Info
Little Shoals Entrance: 11330 S.E. County Road 135, White Springs FL 32096
Big Shoals Entrance: 18738 S.E. 94th St., White Springs FL 32096
Hours: 8 AM – Sunset, 365 days a year
Admission: $4 per vehicle, honor box
The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit Myakka River State Park I recommend checking the most up-to-date information on their website.