Fodor's Expert Review Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
When this refuge opened in 1989, it was off-limits to the public to protect endangered cougar subspecies. In 2005, responding to public demand, the 26,400-acre refuge opened two short loop trails in a region lightly traveled by panthers so visitors could get tastes of wet prairies, tropical hammocks, and pine uplands where panthers roam and wild orchids thrive. The 1.3-mile trail is rugged and often thigh-high under water during summer and fall; it's closed when completely flooded. The shorter 0.3-mile Leslie M. Duncan Memorial Trail, winding through a hardwood hammock, is wheelchair-accessible and open year-round. For either, bring drinking water and insect repellent. Sightings are rare, but you may spot deer, black bears, and the occasional panther—or their tracks.