**Updated 3/19/2020- All Conservation Collier Preserves currently remain open to the public during regular hours. All events, activities, special event reservations, pavilion rentals and camping reservations have been canceled. Please carry out social distancing practices and remain 6 feet away from staff and visitors while you enjoy your visit. We request that no groups larger than 10 people congregate. Please check this website for updates on preserve closures prior to your planned visit**
Address/Location: 6315 Pepper Rd., Immokalee, FL 34142 Google Map
click here for: Directions from I-75 and Immokalee Road
Public Access Status:
The Pepper Ranch Preserve is open every Friday and non-hunt Saturday and Sunday through the end of June. For more information and for exact dates click the flyer below or click here. Dogs are not allowed at the preserve due to high predator populations.
Current Trail Conditions:
Hiking, Biking, and Equestrian Trails: All trails are open. They may be wet in some areas due to recent rains.
Equestrian Use: All trails are open. Equestrian Riders must provide Coggin's test papers to rangers at the visitor center.
Camping: Pepper Ranch Preserve has 10 individual tent-only campsites available for reservation as well as a group campsite that accommodates parties up to 50. Camping on the preserve is available November-June on non-hunt or holiday Friday and Saturday nights. The individual tent-only campsites that accomodate up to six visitors has access to a bathroom facility with showers, the group campsite is primitive camping only. For more information or to make a reservation, reserve online here, or contact Immokalee Community Park at 239-252-4449. To find park locations, go to this website: http://www.colliergov.net/index.aspx?page=356. Please call the visitors center Friday through Sunday at 239-657-1999 for additional information. Click on the following links for CAMPGROUND MAP and CAMPGROUND RULES.
Individual tent-only campsite suitable for up to six campers
Group fire pit at the large group campsite suitable for up to 50 campers
To become a Collier County Parks and Rec Volunteer, you will need to fill out a volunteer application and complete a background check, please click here to complete the process!
Mountain Biking Volunteers: The first phase of trails are complete (6 miles), we are seeking volunteers to help maintain the current trails and to help to continue to build additional trails November-June of each year. See Bike Trail Map Click here for information on our Mountain Bike Volunteer Group.
Equestrian Volunteers: We are seeking volunteers to help with trail marking and maintenance. Please call 239-657-1999 for more information.
General Volunteers: We are seeking volunteers to assist with wildlife surveys, preserve photography, and guided hikes. Please call 239-657-1999 for more information.
Click here for an interactive trail map through Google Maps: Interactive Trail Map
Manager Contact Information: Christal Segura
E-mail: Christal.Segura@CollierCountyFL.gov Phone: 239-252-2495
Preserve Size: 2,512 acres
Trails: 17.6 miles total including hiking, shared hiking, shared biking and shared horseback
Date Acquired: February 6, 2009
Cost of Acquisition: $32,525,080
See the Pepper Ranch Hunt Program Page for more information and Hunt Program materials.
Available printed materials:
Public Access Facilities:
The preserve is open to the public on all Fridays and on non-hunt Saturdays and Sundays from November- June from 9:00 A.M.- 4:00 P.M. (the preserve will be closed on hunting weekends for safety reasons). Public will be welcome to hike, picnic, bird-watch and take a scenic drive through the preserve after obtaining a free daily use permit from the visitor's center. Public restrooms are available at the ranch.
The picnic pavilion (pole barn) is available for rent on days that the preserve is open to the public. The visitor center is available to rent for meetings on Thursdays from 9-3:30. Call (239) 252-4449 for more information.
Guests to the Pepper Ranch Preserve must register at the Visitor Center
The Pepper Ranch picnic pavilion available for rentals
Plants and Wildlife:
Ten types of intact native plant communities are documented on the property, including woodland pasture, pine flatwoods, upland and wetland hardwood forests, oak-cabbage palm forest, cypress, freshwater marsh and wet prairie. Wildlife observed on the ranch includes sandhill cranes, Audubon's crested caracara, American kestrels, wood storks, numerous wading bird species, bald eagles, Big Cypress fox squirrels, black bear, Florida panther, deer, hog, muskrat and alligators.
Reason for Acquisition:
The Pepper Ranch Preserve was an outstanding nomination that met all of the criteria Conservation Collier uses to evaluate potential acquisitions. These criteria include those relating to protection of water resources, preservation of biological values, including presence of unique and endangered plant communities and wildlife, potential for nature base recreation and education, and how a property fits in with the larger matrix of County lands to provide a buffer for,
corridor to or ecological link with other conservation lands.
Acquisition of the ranch offered multiple opportunities for protection of water resources, including recharge of aquifers, protection of wetland dependent species habitat, protection of the Corkscrew swamp and marsh complex and protection of wetlands associated with Lake Trafford. Located within the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, the property adjoins more than 42,000 public and private acres already held in conservation status and further protects the Corkscrew Marsh, the headwaters for Collier County’s drinking water supplies.
The ranch is home to many species of native wildlife, including those listed as threatened, endangered, or of special concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission considers this location to be "Priority One " habitat for Florida panther conservation. Panther sightings, telemetry points and abundance of prey species all indicate that panthers are present. Many other native wildlife species have also been documented on the ranch, including numerous species of threatened and endangered birds. Acquisition of the ranch provides connectivity for wildlife between the Corkscrew wetlands, Lake Trafford wetlands and the Camp Keais Strand, extending south into the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Everglades National Park.
At least ten (10) distinct types of vegetation communities exist on the ranch, including vast oak forests, untouched cypress strands, and freshwater marshes teeming with plant and animal life.
In addition to its many environmental attributes, there are historical and archeological features to the ranch. This beautiful property had been a farm, hunting grounds, cattle ranch, fishing camp and home for one local family since 1926, until it was sold to Collier County in 2009 and provides a living window into local history. It also borders Lake Trafford, the largest natural lake in Collier County and the location of early settlements by Native Americans. Artifacts discovered in and around the lake have been dated to 550 A.D.
Management goals at the Pepper Ranch Preserve include the following: eliminating or significantly reducing human impacts to indigenous flora and fauna, developing a baseline monitoring program, removing or controlling populations of invasive, exotic or problematic flora and fauna, creating a prescribed fire plan, restoring native vegetation, developing a plan for public use, facilitating use of the site for appropriate recreational and educational purposes, providing a plan for security and disaster preparedness and establishing a panther conservation bank to reduce costs of mitigation for County projects.