The Picayune Strand State Forest is made up of two vast swathes of land. These are the South Golden Gate Estates Tract and the Belle Meade Tract. Most of the forest is on the South Golden Gate Estate Tract. Formerly a site for the lumbering of cypress trees in the 1940s and 50s, it was bought by a developer in the 1960s who intended to create the ‘Golden Gate Estates’, the largest subdivision in the United States.
Situated in the southwestern fringe of Florida in the Collier County, it is an estimated two miles to the east of the town of Naples, near Lely Resort. It is also a part of the Big Cypress Basin. The forest is quite rich and it has the following: wet prairie, hardwood hammocks, Pine Flatwoods, and cypress strands.
It is also home to an impressive array of wildlife, which will be the delight of any tourist. Some of these are as follows: wood stork, bald eagle, black bear and even swallow-tailed kites. Once in a while, it is also possible to spot a Florida panther.
Over time, there have been concerted efforts to restore the area. It is important to ensure that there is the return of the sheet flow of fresh water via the strand and onward into the Ten Thousand Islands and the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. This is very crucial to the survival and proper functioning of the natural ecosystem of the southwestern portion of the state of Florida.
The Picayune Strand State Forest has so many recreational opportunities for the teeming visitors. These include the Sabal Palm Hiking Trail, which is a 3.2-mile long trail that offers some of the most breathtaking views of the cypress trees. For bird watchers too, this is the ideal place for you! There is also the Belle Meade Tract where lovers of horses can enjoy the 22-mile horse trail. Other facilities on the Tract include equestrian camping area and paddocks. These are just a few of the facilities that guests and visitors stand to gain by visiting the majestic Picayune Strand State Forest. If you are a nature lover visiting Picayune Strand State Forest would be an unforgettable experience.