Turkey Creek... Paddling and Scoring a Florida Trifecta: Manatee, Dolphin, Alligator
Turkey Creek at Palm Bay has two personalities. From the mouth at the Indian River upstream to the Port Malabar Blvd. bridge, the creek is wider and lined with homes. Past the bridge, the creek enters the Turkey Creek Sanctuary and becomes more narrow and winding ending at the Melbourne-Tillman Water District dam, about 3 miles. We saw so many turtles we were tempted to rename this Turtle Creek. Hitting the trifecta - seeing manatee, dolphins and alligators all in one day on the same paddling trip - was pretty exciting and a first for us! (Detailed map and photos below.)
From the Goode Park launch, bear right and then left around the point past the Pollak Park launch and onto the creek, or bear left and look for the cut-through. From the Pollak Park launch, bear right. Past the railroad bridge at Pollak Park the creek widens before emptying into the Indian River, but we stayed on the upstream side and paddled to the dam. High bluffs within the Sanctuary are remnants of ancient sand dunes. The beach at the canoe dock in the Sanctuary is a good place to stop to snack and stretch your legs or walk on the trails or boardwalk. The entire creek is a manatee zone with no-wake rules.
Goode Park has parking, restrooms, boat ramp, fishing pier, picnic, and meeting rooms are available at the Captain's House; this is a popular location for manatee sighting in season. Pollak Park has parking, boat ramp, restrooms, picnic, playground. Turkey Creek Sanctuary has a nature center, hiking trails, boardwalk, restrooms, picnic.
Wildlife include wading birds, eagles, osprey, alligators, turtles and fish (we spotted some big gar). We saw 3-4 manatee upriver in the Sanctuary, and dolphins closer to Goode Park and the Indian River.
More information (opens in a new window):
Paddling in Florida - Kayak, Canoe