We love the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. But you already know that from reading our article, “Why We Love The Sanibel Wildlife Refuge.”
Today, I’m going to share some of the exciting sights and sounds you might experience when visiting Ding Darling.
Choose From Three Wildlife Trails
Did you know Ding Darling has three different trails you can explore in addition to Wildlife Drive? There’s the Indigo Trail, Wulfert Keys Trail, and The Shell Mound Trail. You have to watch the video to really understand what each has to offer, but here’s a quick summary…
The Indigo Trail at Ding Darling
Right near the Education Center and the start of Wildlife Drive, you’ll find the entrance to the Indigo Trail. This is my kid’s favorite trail because there are copper castings of POOP from different wildlife animals. So, if you don’t spot any wildlife movement, you can at least try to identify any scat you might come across in the refuge.
Closer to dawn and dusk are the best times to try and spot wildlife at Ding. The Indigo trail is 4-miles round-trip and usually has lots of sunlight, so I’d suggest walking on an overcast day or wearing sun protection. You have a good chance at seeing alligators, raccoons, otters, and some unique birds along the Indigo Trail!
Wulfert Keys Trail at Ding Darling
This short detour from Wildlife Drive is just a half-mile round-trip. The path leads out to the water with expansive views of Pine Island Sound and the mangrove islands called the Wulfert Keys. The keys are important rookeries for herons, spoonbills, and other birds that you might catch a glimpse of while exploring the Wulfert Keys Trail.
The Shell Mound Trail at Ding Darling
Last but not least, you’ll find the Shell Mound Trail near the end of Wildlife Drive. This boardwalk loop is just under a half-mile round-trip. The trail is peaceful and even romantic with a canopy of trees covering the path and the quietness of the forest around you.
Walk slowly or stop and listen to the sounds of wildlife moving about the trees. You can find true solitude on the Shell Mound Trail and see some amazing wildlife if you stop and take it slowly.