The birthplace of the National Wildlife Refuge System with the creation of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Florida has one of the highest concentration of refuges in the country. It helps that our state is along some of the major flyover routes for migratory birds, and is the winter home for certain species. Birders find our refuges fabulous spots – especially in winter – to fill out their life lists.
Some of our refuges are species-specific, such as Crocodile Lakes NWR and Florida Panther NWR. One, Lake Wales Ridge NWR, is there to protect endangered plants and reptiles found only along that ridge. Another – Okefenokee Swamp NWR – lies mainly in Georgia but slips over the state line. Some of our refuges have limited or no public access. More than half have hiking, biking, or paddling trails, including some extensive trail systems.
Florida's National Wildlife Refuges
You can also explore trails in the following National Wildlife Refuges in Florida.
- Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge: Atsenie Otie Key, Seahorse Key
- Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge: Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk
- Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
- Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge: Florida Panther Trail, Leslie Duncan Memorial Trail
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge: Hobe Sound Nature Trail
- Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge: Centennial Trail, Bird’s Impoundment Trail, Pete’s Impoundment Trail
- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
- Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge: Marsh Trail
Favorite National Wildlife Refuge Trails
Although our refuges have some of Florida’s oldest and shortest interpretive trails, one refuge – St. Marks – is also home to 45 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail. These hikes at National Wildlife Refuges are among our favorites.
National Wildlife Refuge Fees
Fees apply at some of the National Wildlife Refuges in Florida, most notably the main entrances to St. Marks NWR and Ding Darling NWR. Your Golden Eagle / National Parks pass provides access. Fourth grade students (and their families) as well as active military are eligible for free passes. Seniors may purchase discount passes good for their lifetimes. Passes are a great bargain if you plan to visit more than a few parks and refuges in a year.
National Wildlife Refuge Articles
Articles about Florida’s National Wildlife Refuges, including our own journeys to the refuges, tips for visiting, updates, and information about wildlife and plants. Scroll through to see all.
New to Florida? Florida is different. If you don’t know much about our outdoors, start here to learn what’s unique about hiking, backpacking, and camping in Florida.
The last Saturday of September is National Public Lands Day, celebrated across America with fee-free entry to Federal public lands and volunteer activities at the state, local, and national level.
Hiking the Hammock Trails in Merritt Island NWR this weekend brought back memories of hiking and camping in these woods as a young Boy Scout in the 1960s and 70s
Watching a sea turtle come ashore to lay its eggs is an incredible experience. Here are some of the places where you can join sea turtle walks in Florida.
National Wildlife Refuge Videos
Enjoy the diversity of our National Wildlife Refuges in Florida through our video explorations of their trails and tours. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive regular updates of virtual hikes, rides, and paddles throughout Florida.