Our first month at Big Shoals State Park has been uneventful and some would say even boring. But the weather is getting cooler and we are having a relaxing time. There are quite a few visitors that come every weekend but not so much during the week. We have been having problems with keeping the equipment going and we are no mechanics. The park currently only has one park ranger and waiting on a park services specialist to be hired. The park has a lovely picnic area right next to the river high on a bluff with picnic tables, barbecue grills and one fire pit.
There is a canoe/kayak launch down a sloping path that is overgrown with roots and has railroad ties as steps every so often. There a platform and some steps leading down into the river. There are no canoe/kayak racks for paddlers come down the Suwannee River before the park. Mostly, they come to launch to go the white water rapids area. The river is currently high and running fairly fast. With all the rain we have had over the last 4 weeks all the trails are wet with some even flooded in places. The 3 mile lone paved Woodpecker trail has to be blown off every week but we have only managed it one time since we have been here.
I think the biggest attraction is the yellow trail going to the river overlook area so that people can look and take pictures of the rapids. My younger daughter walked with me down the 2.5 mile trail which definitely could use some maintenance. It is very narrow in most places with vegetation moving in and with the rain all the roots have been exposed. So, naturally, on the way back I tripped over on one and sprained my ankle. The park ranger will have to walk down this trail, it is not accessible via truck or our gator, with a chainsaw to chop up a couple of logs across the trail and a few small trees that have fallen down where you only have three feet of clearance to get underneath. Mom will not make down the trail and neither of us know how to work a chainsaw. I just know how to use the gator, the street blower and the hand blower. The park ranger does all the mowing. Which is a good thing. There is not much grass here and his mower is one of those huge, glassed-in cab tractor/mowers.
We will be helping out with the Pumpkin Fest in two weeks. We hope that anyone is the area will come by and check it out: “Big Shoals State Park will be hosting its Annual Family Pumpkin Festival from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 18th 2014. There will be many games including pumpkin bowling, a pumpkin slingshot, face painting, pumpkin decorating, a treasure chest to pull some prizes out of, and a haunted hayride through the woods. There will be a costume parade at 5:30 p.m. and an award ceremony at 6:00 p.m. for costumes and for pumpkin decorating!” It is only $5 per carload and should be a lot of fun. Granted, Stephen Foster Memorial State Park, just down the road, will be having a Quilt Fest this same weekend. That is a three day event from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
In November Little Shoals will be having A Starry Night at the Shoals with a hay ride out to the field where there will be telescopes set up and an astronomer to tell everyone what they are looking at in the night sky. That is also only $5 per car load. It should be a great time so long as there are no clouds blocking the view. “Big Shoals State Park will host A Park in the Dark Stargazing Event November 22, 2014 beginning at sunset, 5:45 p.m. Come join an astronomer from the Alachua County Astronomy Club for a Park in the Dark and an evening of star gazing! Guests will meet at the Little Shoals entrance of Big Shoals State Park and be given a hay ride out to the viewing site. The Alachua County Astronomy Club will have scopes set up for viewing and teach visitors about the local night skies. Visitors will be given a chance to look through the scopes and have questions answered. There will be transportation available to visitors that need to use the restroom during the event.”