In addition to all of the fantastic parks and wetlands Florida has to offer, did you know that most Florida counties have preservation areas embedded in their communities—complete with walking trails, boardwalks, kayak access, and more? Quite by accident, my wife stumbled upon Palm Beach County’s source for these little gems, so we decided to head over to one of the more intriguing names on the list: Frenchman’s Forest.

This 158-acre natural area features three miles of walking trails, a small lake, and an observation platform. There’s a nice stretch of shaded pathways and a tree-lined boardwalk, but the main trail, which is about 1.3 miles long, has minimal shade coverage…so you’ll want to be sure to bring along your S’well bottle. And maybe a safari hat.

Despite the natural state of the area, the trip turned out to be a big miss for us in the way of animal sightings. Maybe the wildlife was seeking refuge from the blistering afternoon sun? Or maybe the birds and animals relocated thanks to the wickedly loud and annoying cicadas? (Boy, do those little bugs sing their lungs out.) By the end of the trek, we made out with only three wildlife sightings: one startled Virginia opossum in the brush, four giant horseflies who were intent on attacking us, and a baby green snake that almost met its maker by darting under the sole of my boot. Good thing I have lighting-fast reflexes, huh?

With the lack of animal targets, I set my sights on the many trees of the trail. It was apparent that dry fires had raged through the park recently; the trails were littered with singed, hollowed-out, and crumbled trees. So I decided to capture some interesting “tree death” (which came out pretty creepy and cool, if I do say so myself). I even snapped off an interesting lake photo, which I’ve highlighted as this post’s cover shot. Doesn’t it look like an eerie watercolor painting?

 

Stump Fork at Frenchman's Forest

Stump Fork

 

Wicked Dead Tree at Frenchman's Forest

Wicked Dead

 

Dead Tree Line at Frenchman's Forest

Dead Tree Line

 

All in all, you can’t beat getting out and exploring local parks—even if they’re filled with creepy, dead trees. I’ve said it once and I’m sure I’ll say it again: there will always be a positive takeaway from any park visit. Always.

Have you run across any creepy parks we should know about?