A friend and I ran Big Shoals over the weekend at 60'. That water level was great! The top of the rapid formed three large holes and the bottom had a nice surf wave on river right.
We run this section every now and then. I find that the best level is above 55', and washed out above 65'. At lower levels there are some small surf waves down stream before the take out. We have always enjoyed paddling down to the Big Shoals rapids and setting up camp on river left and walking our boats back up for multiple runs. At low flow the rapid can be a bit retentive for swimmers.
Here are some good videos from our trips
Is there currently a local group who paddles this section? It would be awesome if anyone in the area could adopt this reach and post some current info on this section. Such as pics, better directions to the put in & take out. I would be happy to make someone who is an AW member a stream keeper so this section could be updated. I have gotten questions from people new to this area. Thanks!
Matthew Cooper writes:
This is a Comment on for the Withlacooche River near Lake Panasoffkee. There is a dam there that feeds all of the water through a 10 foot slot with about 3 feet of drop. There is a beautiful 3 foot standing wave/hole very similar in size to that of Hell Hole on the Ocoee. I was there back in March when visiting grandparents and running Big Shoals. The Withlacoochee hole has three problems with it that could be fixed to make it a very real whitewater destination for the SOUTH SOUTH East!
1. To kayak the dam in not legal, but there is a lock for small boats and a propeller boat ramp there.
2.There is metal pipe of no observable use extending vertical out of the wave close to the cement walls. Pin potential because of this pipe looks horrible, but the pipe could be removed.
3. About 50 ft back where the flow of water pushes is a large wooden fence in the river. Its made of telephone poles and a few cross beams. It would be easy for an experienced kayaker to avoid by paddling into the massive eddy just to the surfers right. Also, a boater could fit between the poles of the fence but could get banged up or temporarily pinned against the fence.
I took some cell-phone pics back of the spot, but lost the cell phone. On my next visit down there I will do some visual reconniasance and documentation.
I ran Big Shoals alone on March 1st at a level of 63.5 feet (maybe 5000-6000cfs). My overall opinion of the whitewater run is that the Big Shoals shows a lot of potential as a fun playspot, but is more or less washed out at 63.5. There is a big green wave and a bunch of wave trains but the ratio of white to green is meager. The water flows fast and there are two big eddies on either side of the river. One of which provides eddy service and has a very strong eddy line which can yield serious squirts and pirhouettes.
I would believe that at levels of 61 feet or so the waves will become more like reciprocating holes and could prove some great play. Or bring a surfboard and get up on the big green wave!
The river is quite beautiful. The water is black and the flatwater offers crystal clear reflections of the scenery. Big Shoals is easy to find and the trailhead is a well maintained park with friendly people about.
I suggest you go, at 61 ft of water.
55' - Bony; few play spots. Boats will scrape at a few spots between Big Shoals and the US 41 Bridge.
57' - The true fun begins
62' - Optimal level. Strong, fast current.
68' - Washed out.
On occasion, USGS doesn't show readings at White Springs. Readings may be available from the Suwannee River Water Management District. However, these readings are updated less frequently.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Low Water View of Big Shoals
Top Hole; Low Water
surfin Florida style
K. Barloga at Big Shoals, Suwannee River
Tim at Suwannee Shoals
paddling the Suwanee Shoals at about ~51 ft, ~3000 cfs
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!