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 turpentining. Longleaf pines in the park still bear the scars of cat-face stripping of bark to collect resins for naval stores production.
Fall is here! Now is a great time to get out and explore the Real Florida at Big Shoals State Park.
Come out and enjoy a day of hiking, biking, bird watching, and horseback riding, we have 28 miles of trails within Big Shoals State Park and over 6 miles of that visitors can hike along the banks of the Suwannee River.
If you feel like taking a slow and very pleasuring trip down the famous Suwannee River then come on out and enjoy a day of canoeing. If you are experienced and more adventurous you can challenge yourself on Florida's only class III rapid, the Big Shoals. The famous Shoals run over a lime rock base and are part of Florida's Cody Scarp; it's a breath taking site to see.
Being so far from the main highways means the park is always quiet. The only sounds you will hear is from nature, the birds singing, the wind rustling through the trees and depending on which trail you take you will be able to hear the roaring waters of the Suwannee River's Big and Little Shoals.
Pack your camera and picnic lunch and come check out Florida's only class III rapids! 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. Please contact the Ranger Station for accurate river levels.
Big Shoals Public Lands offer over 6 miles of river frontage in the park where visitors can hike the trails along the riverbanks. We invite you to walk the beautiful nature trails or have a nice picnic under the oaks. This is a day you'll long remember, the ideal family outing. Big Shoals State Park also offers you a chance to be able to view numerous birding and wildlife opportunities while hiking, biking or horseback riding some of the 28 miles of trails within the park. For those people that like to hike in the late afternoon, we have a bat house at the Big Shoals entrance, which everyone should see. Anyone that sticks around for the sunset will be able to see hundreds of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats fly out of the bat house.
Please remember to exercise caution while visiting the park and spending time in any outdoor setting. Ticks are prevalent in many outdoor environments; including State Parks. We strongly encourage you to use repellant while visiting our park for your safety. Typical tick borne diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and the more common Ehrichliosis. Repellant is sold at the Stephen Foster State Park Gift Shop for your convenience. According to the Florida Dept. of Health, most tick bites do not result in illness; therefore treatment is not recommended unless a person becomes ill.
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 Motor home. If you are in the mood for a change of pace, then consider volunteering and living in the middle of the Real Florida.