Lake City Reporter: Big Fun at Big Shoals

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Bike, hike trail ready for visitors

WHITE SPRINGS – Those who think that Florida is entirely flat haven’t been to Big Shoals State Park.

Beneath the protective blanket of towering pines and lush palmettos lies a maze of steep slopes and ravines along the Suwannee River.

Big Shoals Public Lands contains 3,772 acres of preserve and showcases the largest whitewater rapids in the state.

Visitors may enjoy 28 miles of trails and activities such as horseback riding, picnicking, canoeing, bicycling, kayaking and hiking.

The park’s newest addition is Woodpecker Trail.

The 3.4 mile paved trail allows visitors to travel back and forth from the Big Shoals and the Shoals entrances.

The vision for the trail actually started about four years ago with the surveying of the land, said Park Ranger Stan Christian.

“The actual construction started this past year during the middle of summer, and it was finished up by the middle  of December,” he said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place March 19.

“We’ve had a really positive response from people,” Christian said. “We’ve seen a lot of families here as they can bring their children to walk to ride bicycles without worrying about sharing the road with vehicles.”

The trail offers a safe way to get exercise while enjoying wildlife and plant life along the way.

Covered areas are situated along the trail so that visitors can rest if they need to, or get shelter from rain.

“People who come here will have the opportunity to see animals in their natural settings, like turkey and deer,” Christian said.

Visitors have often spotted tracks left by some of the park’s inhabitants along the trail.

The park also has grills, picnic tables and fire rings located by Big Shoals and a covered picnic shelter by Little Shoals.

In addition to hiking on Woodpecker Trail, visitors may also wish to explore the shoals.

The area known as the shoals, is a one-mile stretch of the river rapids created 10 to 16 millon years ago.

Over time, the river washed away softer sediment leaving the hard limestone outcrop behind.

Class III White Water conditions for kayaking occur when the water level falls between 59 and 61 feet mean sea level.

The area known as Little Shoals is actually a smaller set of rapids along the Suwannee River.

Visitors may consult the Suwanee River Water Management District website at for updates on the daily river water levels.

Wendell Hannum owner and operator of American Canoe Adventures, has noticed an increase in visitors from outside of the area in his 11 years of being in business.

“I have seen more people from Lake City and Jacksonville,” he said “Memorial Day is always our busiest time.”

In addition to canoeing or kayaking down the river visitors can also enjoy the multitude of wildlife that call the park home.

This includes red-tailed hawks, white-tailed deer, box turtles and timber rattlers to name a few.

The river also offers large-mouth bass, black crappie and channel catfish among other fish to those with a proper fishing license.

Hunting is also permitted in designated areas.

Several programs are led by park rangers upon request including Hike to Big Shoals, Hike to Bottom Bay, and a slideshow of the wildlife and other natural features of the park.

“The hikes are good because visitors are guided through the park by a ranger who can point out changes in the type of soil and the changes in vegetation that they may not notice alone,” Christian said.

On the Hike to Bottom Bay, visitors can see old coral formations at the bottom of the creek from the days when Florida was a sand bar.

“The native Americans used these materials to make some of their stone tools,” Christian explained.

The park opens every day at 8 a.m. and closes at sundown year round.

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:46+00:00 February 3rd, 2005|Categories: Blog, News, Samples|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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