Panther National Wildlife Refuge

Location
FPNWR map SFL thumbFlorida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is located 20 miles east of Naples, FL at the northwest corner of the intersection of Interstate 75 and State Road 29 (I-75 exit 80). The refuge is due west of the Big Cypress National Preserve, due north of Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and Picayune Strand State Forest, and due south of Immokalee, Florida.  The refuge consists of over 26,000 acres and is located within the heart of the Big Cypress Basin, encompassing the northern reach of the Fakahatchee Strand, the largest cypress strand in the Big Cypress swamp.

Please note that most of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is closed to public access.

Two hiking trails are open to the public on the refuge. The trails are located about a quarter mile north of the intersection of State Road 29 and I-75. Open during daylight hours only, the trails provide the refuge visitor with a chance to experience the various habitats found on the refuge.

The Leslie M. Duncan Memorial Trail is a 1/3 mile, wheelchair-accessible loop trail that winds through a hardwood hammock dominated by ancient oak trees and tropical vegetation. A small boardwalk and overlook allow visitors to view a small, recently restored, seasonal pond. The trail and boardwalk were funded by private donations from Marge Duncan, Safari Club International, and the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge.

The trail is well marked, but during the wet season, overgrown vegetation on the trail may encroach on the trail. Regardless of the trail’s condition, the visitor will enjoy a leisurely walk through hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods, and wet prairies. Late winter and early spring will bring out many wildflowers. Deer, bear, and occasional panther tracks can be found along the longer trail. Don’t forget to look up to catch a glimpse of a red-shoulder hawk, swallow-tailed kite or osprey. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to observe wildlife. Call the main office (239-657-8001) to check the status of the trails and to see if there are any planned events at the trails. Occasional tours may be offered during the winter depending on staff or volunteer availability.

For more wildlife viewing, photography, and hiking opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, visit the “Find A Refuge Trail” website to locate a trail near you! http://www.fws.gov/refuges/trails/index.cfm

Download the park brochure.