For Florida residents who live in White Springs, the Big Shoals State Park is a beloved community landmark and is often visited multiple times throughout the year. Many people enjoy scenic walks along the paved trails, reunited with nature in a calm, easy going manner. Others prefer running and biking along the dirt trails, ready to get their heart pumping.
A Fresh Start
But recreational sports are not the only thing this park can boost of. According to local legend, Big Shoals is home to an ancient and mysterious creature most often mistaken for Bigfoot. Some Florida residents in surrounding counties believe sightings of this alleged creature is nothing short of a hoax—a creative way for White Springs to drum up more tourism.
But Peter (Name changed for privacy), an eye witness to the strange and horrifying creature, knows it’s definitely not a hoax. “’Horrifying’ is a great way to describe it, actually,” he said with a slight chuckle. “Even now I get nervous talking about it, hence my nervous behavior.
"But I think it’s important to share my story and make others aware. I would feel terrible if I kept what happened to me a secret and some unaware child or family were inadvertently put into harm’s way. I visited Big Shoals last fall.
"I had just gotten out of a long term, dramatic relationship and spending a day in the park seemed like a good way to begin my new life. I had been hiking and exploring the dirt paths for most of the morning when my stomach began to protest and rumble,” he recalled. “I walked for a little while longer until I came upon a small, natural clearing off the left hand side of the trail.
"I decided it would be an acceptable spot to eat the sandwich I had packed. I found a thick tree branch that bent low towards the ground and perched on it as I ate. It was a Wednesday morning, and there were surprisingly few people using the trails.
The Beast of White Springs
"I was chewing the last morsel of my sandwich when all of the little hairs on the back of my neck began to stand up. I sat up straighter, straining to hear what was to the sides and behind me. To me, it felt like one moment I was alone, and the next something was less than five feet away from me, staring me down,” he said, his voice quivering slightly.
“Scared out of my wits, I slowly turned my head and my body towards the side so I could look behind me. There, tucked into the dense tree line was a creature that most resembled what I imagine the offspring of a human and a gorilla would look like. It was tall, probably about eight feet, and it had thick brown hair all over its body.
"As I trembled and looked up at it, it stared back at me from beady, black eyes. Thinking it would harm me, I inched myself off the log and slowly backed up as I stood to my full height. That’s when the creature let out a low growl and lunged at me with one of its massive hands.
"I took off running, and I wouldn’t have stopped running until I got home, if it hadn’t been for the White Springs police pulling me over for speeding. I will never forget that crazy day.”