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Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
I had always wanted to go to Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. So on my birthday, back on May 24th, 2021, I called there to see if I could hike there by myself, since the website suggested not to do that, and the woman who answered told me yes! So I drove there using some back roads to get there quickly and with little traffic. There is a small parking area on the west side of State Road 29, just north of 75, where I parked and they have a small portable bathroom which I used before I started out. I also ate some lunch as well. The area is surrounded by high steel fencing that is a bit intimidating when you see it! I went in to enter the trail from the east side of the parking lot. I took the 1/3 mile loop trail first and then went to the other side of the parking lot to take the trail there. It doesn't matter which way you go in since the 1 & 1/3 mile trail is a loop that connects both sides of the parking area.
Leslie M. Duncan Memorial Trail, East Side of Parking Lot
1/3 Mile Loop Trail
Entrance Gate on West Side of Parking Lot
I have to admit, I was a little nervous going into the fenced area. Panthers are pretty big and with some large teeth top and bottom of the mouth that I wouldn't want to be bitten by! I kept watching all around me and listening for any sounds of movement just in case a panther was close by. I don't think there is much danger during the day and panthers probably stay clear of people. I would not go out there at night though. That is when panthers come out to hunt!
Trail Opens Up
Beautiful Pink Flower
I hiked along the nice sunny trail that has some limestone in the ground.
The refuge is quite large but the trail covers just a small portion of it. Areas along the trail are closed off.
Closed Off Road
On my left I come to another grass road that leads to covered benches. I stop here to relax, have a break, and enjoy the scenery! It looks like a dried up water hole here.
Dried Up Water Hole
There is a communications tower here on the property with a gate to it from the parking area but there is no public access.
I am soon back on the trail to head back to the parking area. I took a short video while at the covered benches. I'll try to include it at the end so you can get a feel for the area.
Back On the Trail
Hanging Air Plant
I get back to the 1/3 mile trail.
Back to 1/3 Mile Trail
I soon return to the parking area and my car.
Return to Parking Area
I did not see any panthers but that was probably a good thing since I was by myself. If you come here, it's recommended that you come with someone but during the day it is relatively safe. I did have a cannister of bear spray on my belt along with a large knife that I would only use in an emergency!Video from covered benches at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge!
Address: 12085 SR 29 South, Immokalee, FL 34142
Phone: (239) 657-8001
Area: 41.25 mi²
Management: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service
Info from Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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