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Paddle Merritt Island, National Wildlife Refuge, kayak, canoe, FloridaPaddle Merritt Island, National Wildlife Refuge, kayak, canoe, Florida

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Reported: March 2012

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge... Paddling at Florida's Space Coast

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1963 as part of the development of Canaveral (John F. Kennedy) Space Center, consists of 140,000 acres including coastal dunes, marshes, scrub, pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks that provide habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. Paddling along the Indian River Lagoon at the Refuge provides an unparalleled view of unspoiled natural habitat and wildlife including an occasional alligator or dolphin. (Detailed map and photos below).



View Larger Map
Distance: Various
Location: Brevard County. From Titusville, SR 406, go east over the Max Brewer Causeway Bridge and the entrance to the refuge is on the left, or go straight to the Visitor Center. From the north, from US 1 near Oak Hill take SR 3 southbound. The Visitors' Center is located on SR 402, 5 miles east of US 1 in Titusville (Mon-Fri: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Along Shiloh Marsh Road, Bairs Cove,  Beacon 42, Dummitt Cove, Bio Lab Road (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Titusville (links, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Manatee Observation Deck, Kennedy Space Center, Canaveral National Seashore, Playalinda Beach

There are several public access roads to launch onto the Indian River or Mosquito Lagoons, the best areas for paddling to avoid motorboats. Our favorite area to paddle is the Indian River, launching from Shiloh Marsh Road - a 12-mile unpaved road paralleling the Indian River (closed during waterfowl hunting season, November 1-February 15, and from time-to-time for maintenance.) Other areas to explore include Dummitts Cove and Eddy Creek. Note that except by permit during waterfowl hunting season, canoeing and kayaking are not permitted in refuge impoundments. High winds and tides can create difficult paddling conditions.

Canaveral National Seashore lies to the north and east, more paddling is available. In the summer months, bioluminescence is an interesting phenomenon and several outfitters offer tours. Marine life have developed the ability to use chemicals within their bodies to produce light, visible at night.

Paddling on the Indian River at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
Launch at Shiloh Marsh Road and Canals
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Launch area, one of many pull-offs along Shiloh Marsh Road To the river from launch Canal from launch Along the canals, don't get lost in the maze!
On the Indian River
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On the Indian River The square object in the distance is the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center "Kokomo Island"
Flora and Fauna
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Flock of white pelican Snail at launch area Cactus Sea grass Fishing from the shore, we saw a lot of reds and mullet

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Also visit us here: Bicycling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

More information on paddling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (opens in a new window):

- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

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