Goodbye Woods Ferry, Hello Big Shoals! Well, we finally made it to our new assignment. We will miss Woods Ferry River Camp with it’s sewer on-site, being able to take long, hot showers and free washer and dryer. We may even miss the river campers who came almost every weekend and some through the week. Big Shoals State Park has a cement pad park host site with electric and water behind the bathroom building and across from the picnic area next to the Suwannee River. The site itself may seem like it was put in backwards but it works. We had to drive in the wrong way around to pull into the park host site. This small park area has a circular, one-way, paved drive and with the RV utility hook-ups on the drivers side it was easier to come in the wrong way than to back into the site. Luckily, through the week, the park doesn’t get a lot of visitors. Since we don’t own a “Blue Boy” we had to purchase about sixty feet of sewer hose to be able to dump our black and gray water tanks. The sewer outlet is right next to the bathroom building on the side along with an outdoor cold shower. Since, it is a “Day Use” only state park when we lock the entrance gates at night there will be no visitors.
Right now the park doesn’t have a “residential” park ranger living in the ranger house here. The previous ranger moved over to Troy Springs a few months ago and the park’s manager is in the process of revamping the position. From what we were told they will be looking to place a Park Services Specialist with Fire Training here. So, if you are a Florida State Park Park Services Specialist with a “Fire Boss” certificate and would like to live in North Florida we hope you will contact the Manager at Stephen Foster Memorial State Park and apply for the position. The house and personal grounds look extremely nice on the outside and we are great park hosts! 😉
The park host here is supposed to keep the bathrooms clean, empty the trash cans, pick-up trash and debris in the picnic area and along the trails. There is a paved trail between the Big Shoals and Little Shoals area that is used quite a bit with bicyclists and walkers. There are hiking trails, rough terrain biking trails and even a canoe launch area. The picnic area is underneath some large oak trees with barbecue grills and one fire pit. There is an A.D.A. picnic area and it is all located along the Suwannee River. We have yet to find the “rapids” area but hope to see that within the next day or two when it stops raining. Since, the park is small and out-of-the-way it really doesn’t get a lot of visitors. That, in turn, cuts back on the operating budget. If you are in the area of White Springs or even Lake City, Florida we hope you will take time out to visit Little Shoals and/or Big Shoals. It is a lovely place to have a picnic, bike or hike the trails and enjoy a peaceful day and only costs $4 per car load or $2 per individual.
The Little Shoals entrance to the park can be seen from County Road 135. They have a covered picnic pavilion and an A.D.A. bathroom building. There is some rough driving trails that lead over to the Big Shoals picnic area but it is best if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to ride along these roads. There is a paved bike/walking trail from Little Shoals to Big Shoals that is a little bit more than 3 miles long. To drive to the Big Shoals area you will need to continue North on County Road 135 for about 2.5 miles. There is a sign just before S.E. 94th Street where you turn right. At the end of this dirt road is the main entrance to Big Shoals and where the park ranger’s house is located. There is another live on-site park ranger living over next to Little Shoals on County Road 135. He opens all the gates in the morning, checks for trash to be picked up and brings the supplies needed by the park host. His name is Gary. We just met him today and he will be showing us the ropes. He even wants to train me to operate a chainsaw! Oh, Boy, another skill I can add to my volunteering arsenal.
Since pulled in here three days ago we met one of the local county sheriff’s officers. He states that they try to drive through the park every couple of days. That is very nice of them and we look forward to meeting all of them as they visit and we are encouraging them to come back with their friends and family on their off days. Talking to the visitors as we meet them is just good public relations. And the more people we can get to come through the park the better. As with Woods Ferry, I will be taking pictures and posting them to our Facebook and Twitter pages. We hope you will share them with your friends and family as well. Hey, even though it has been raining since late yesterday afternoon here we are still getting visitors and bike riders today. Nice!
This post is getting pretty long but I wanted to make up for missing one in August. With trying to get the book finished and ready to be published, my oldest daughter’s wedding and getting ready to move to a new park we have been rather busy. Below we have included some pictures from one our previous visits to Big Shoals on a bright and sunny day. Till next time!