Location: Naples, Florida
Webpage: National Wildlife Refuge
General Description: Established in 1996, this 35,000 acres refuge protects important mangrove habitats and freshwater from the Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida state properties as it flows to the area of the Gulf known as Ten Thousand Islands. Approximately 2/3 of the refuge is mangrove forest and is inaccessible except by canoe or kayak. The northern third of the refuge is brackish marsh, ponds, and scattered hardwood hammocks. Over 200 species of fish and nearly 200 species of birds have been documented at some time of the year. Notable threatened or endangered wildlife include West Indian manatee, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, wood stork, and the Atlantic loggerhead, green, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.
1) The only part of the refuge accessible by foot is by the remains of a old road bed built for oil exploration before it became a refuge. About a quarter mile down the Marsh Trail is an observation platform with scopes for viewing wildlife at a distance. It is close enough to the water in the man-made canal created when the road was built that you can see down into the water.
2) There is also a number of marked canoe trails through the mangrove forest, some of which have access either from the parking lot or along US 41.