Location: White Springs, Florida
Date: May 18, 2014
The weather was perfect for some outside activity, so Julie and I decided to take an hour drive north on I-75 to the town of White Springs where that are two Florida State Parks. The Stephen Foster state park has camping so we wanted to take a look as we are always interested in finding new locations for short weekend camping adventures.
As the name implies Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park is dedicated to the American composer Stephen Foster who lived from 1826 – 1864. He wrote more than 200 songs and many remained popular long after his death. The building below looks like and old southern mansion and contains a museum covering the life and songs of Mr. Foster. This museum included many old pianos from his time as wells a a number of diorama's showing scenes from many of the more popular songs.
The Carillon Tower tolls through out the day and on the top of each hour plays many of Foster’s tunes. The base of the tower also houses a small museum with many historical pieces.
A section of the Florida Trail runs through the park. We attempted to hike a short part of it as it follows the Suwannee River. Unfortunately, the water level of the river is high at this time and we had to turn around. Below is the track of a short hikes we took around the park and the camping area, We did find a good number of nice campsites here, so we marked them down and plan on returning sometime to do some camping.
Just outside of the State Park entrance is the remains of a hotel and spa that was built around a larger spring on the river. This area was very popular back in the 1800’s as it was believed that soaking in the spring was good for your health. The hotel offered all kinds of “packages” that guaranteed to solve whatever ailed you. Here is all the remains of the old hotel and spa. The water doesn’t look so enticing now as it flooded by the tannic water of the Suwannee river.
As you can see below, downtown White Springs is a bustling area!!
About five miles north of White Springs is the other park we wanted to check out today. This was Big Shoals State park and is also on the Suwannee River. This is the location of the only white water in Florida. There’s two sections of the river, Big Shoals and Little Shoals, where if the water is just right you will be able to canoe or kayak some class III rapids. The parks kayak launch area was closed today because of the high water. We saw a few sections of rapids, but for the most part the water was too high and totally covered the rocks and shoals.
We did do a hike along the river which had some nice overlooks to check out the shoals.
Here is the GPS track or our hike.Big Shoals State Park at EveryTrail
This gopher tortoise was blocking the road as we were trying to leave the park. It was a stare down, and we finally had to relocate him to a safer location on the side of the road,