1980 for the protection of neotropical migratory songbird habitat and threatened and endangered species. There are a few hiking trails that you can enjoy through the refuge. We took the Pine Beach Trail which begins in a maritime forest, passes between Little Lagoon (a saltwater system) and Gator Lake (a freshwater system), and ends at the beach. The trail is 4 miles round trip and there is a trail guide along the way to learn about the native plants.
My favorite part of the hike, besides hanging out at the beach and seeing dolphins, was passing through Little Lagoon and Gator Lake. Little Lagoon is an eight mile long saltwater lagoon connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a man-made pass. Major hurricanes periodically breach the southern shoreline of the lagoon and create a new pass to the Gulf, which soon fills in naturally. Although it averages only a few feet deep, the lagoon provides important nursery habitat for marine life such as fish, shrimp, and crabs. This enclosed environment is protected from predators compared to the Gulf of Mexico.
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