The winter season in Southwest Florida is the prime time to get out into the woods and forests that surround Marco Island and Naples. A lesser–known spot to visit is the 74,008-acre Picayune Strand State Forest, which is accessible off of Collier Boulevard via Sabal Palm Road. Drive back past an operating citrus grove and onto a lime rock road for 3 miles to arrive at Sabal Palm Trailhead. This trailhead serves as a major launch point for hikers, birders, and off-road bicyclists in the forest. It also holds the perfect spot for new and past visitors to enjoy the 6th Annual Festival in the Woods on February 8th, 2020 from 10 AM to 3 PM.
The free event features vendors from the area with opportunities to learn about forests and swamps in the area. The Florida Forest Service will lead guided hikes on a part of the 3.2-mile Sabal Palm Hiking Trail, pointing out features of the pine and cypress forests and identifying birds and animals often found along the trail. Local vendors will be on-site with short horse rides and guided bike tours. Other opportunities include the chance to learn about foods to grow in the backyard, how to cook around a campfire and ask questions about trees in southwest Florida and much more. The event helps to raise money for the Friends of Florida State Forests and Operation Outdoor Freedom. Both organizations support outdoor recreation opportunities for wounded military veterans throughout Florida.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FDACS.gov/FLForestService. For more information on Picayune Strand State Forest, please call 239–348-7557 or email Mike Cooper at Charles.Cooper@fdacs.gov.