Big Shoals State Forest
Big Shoals State Forest comprises 1,673 acres of the 3,919 acre Big Shoals Public Lands (BSPL). BSPL is managed jointly by the Florida Forest Service, Florida State Parks, Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). The Suwannee River flows along the entire southern boundary of BSPL. The State Forest portion is located on the northern side of the Public Lands.
Located in the southeastern corner of Hamilton County, this property (formerly known as the Brown Tract) was purchased from the Nature Conservancy by the State of Florida in 1986 through the Conservation and Recreational Lands (CARL) program. It was designated as a state forest in March of 1989.
PHOTO: Wooded trails take visitors along scenic river bluffs to some of the state's exclusive white water rapids.
Big Shoals is located on the east side of the town of White Springs. There are two entrances to Big Shoals Public Lands; the “Little Shoals” entrance on the west side of the property and the “Big Shoals” entrance on the east. From White Springs, travel north on CR 135 one mile and then, turn right into the Little Shoals entrance. From the Little Shoals entrance, continue north on CR 135 for two more miles and turn right on SE 94th Street (Old Godwin Bridge Road), and follow it to the end at the Big Shoals entrance.
There are several natural community types within Big Shoals State Forest. The dominant type is Mesic Flatwoods, however Upland Mixed Forests, Basin Swamps, and Cypress Domes are well represented. Most of these communities are good examples and have been well maintained. A perennial stream, Four Mile Branch, flows through Big Shoals and into the Suwannee River.
Using an ecosystem management approach, the primary management objective of the Florida Forest Service is to restore, maintain and protect all native ecosystems. Through sound multiple-use management practices, a proper balance is maintained between resource utilization and resource protection. The forest which provides habitat for many species of wildlife including white-tailed deer, bobcat, fox squirrel and wild turkey.
While Big Shoals Public Lands is noted for its whitewater rapids associated with the Big and Little Shoals on the Suwannee River at certain river levels, the State Forest portion has multiple other recreation opportunities as well. These include nature study, picnicking, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.
Big Shoals State Forest contains a hiking trail and horseback riding trail included in the Florida Forest Service Trailwalker and Trailtrotter Programs. There is also a very popular 4 mile paved bicycle trail located on the State Forest. A canoe launch is located on the northern section of the river but Note: the shoals are very dangerous and should not be navigated when the water level is high.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules which apply to all State Forest visitors.
- Florida Forest Service
Big Shoals State Forest
7620 133rd Road
Live Oak, FL 32060
- Telephone: 386/ 208-1460 - FAX: 386/ 208-1465
- Email Big Shoals State Forest