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Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge!

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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
Leslie M. Duncan Memorial Trail, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

1/3 Mile Loop Trail
One Third Mile Loop Trail, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Nice Boardwalk!
Nice Boardwalk, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Entrance Gate on West Side of Parking Lot
Entrance Gate on West Side of Parking Lot, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

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!

Shade Trees
Shade Trees, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Trail Opens Up
Trail Opens Up, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful Pink Flower
Beautiful Pink Flower, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

I hiked along the nice sunny trail that has some limestone in the ground.

Sunny Trail
Sunny Trail, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

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
Closed Off Road, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

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.

Covered Benches
Covered Benches, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Dried Up Water Hole
Dried Up Water Hole, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

There is a communications tower here on the property with a gate to it from the parking area but there is no public access.

Communications Tower
Communications Tower, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

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
Back On the Trail, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Hanging Air Plant
Hanging Plant, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

I get back to the 1/3 mile trail.

Back to 1/3 Mile Trail
Back to 1/3 Mile Trail, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

I soon return to the parking area and my car.

Return to Parking Area
Return to Parking Area, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

Florida Panther
Florida Panther, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge

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 miĀ²
Management: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service
Established: 1989
Info from Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge

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