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Trip report: November 2014

Kayaking in Turkey Creek Sanctuary... Florida

Paddling for the Florida Trifecta: Manatee, Dolphin, Alligator

Turkey Creek at Palm Bay, FL offers an environmentally diverse, saltwater to freshwater kayaking experience. From the mouth at the Indian River upstream to the Port Malabar Blvd. bridge (saltwater), the creek is wider and lined with homes. Past the bridge, the creek enters the Turkey Creek Sanctuary (freshwater) and becomes more narrow and winding, ending at the Melbourne-Tillman Water District dam, about 3 miles one-way. We saw so many turtles we were tempted to rename this Turtle Creek. Hitting the trifecta - seeing manatee, dolphins, and alligators on the same half-day paddling trip was exciting, and a rarity for us! (Detailed map, photos below.)

paddle Turkey Creek

Distance: Varies, about 3 miles from Goode Park to dam, plus some side creeks.
Location: Brevard County (Palm Bay)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes, especially closer to the Indian River
Launch points: Goode Park, Pollak Park (See map)
Nearby points of interest: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Melbourne Beach, Cape Canaveral

Rentals/Outfitters/Tours:

Palm Bay Marina (rentals)

Turkey Creek... Comments and Photos

Goode Park

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.


Goode Park to Turkey Creek Sanctuary

From the Goode Park launch, bear right and then left around the point past Pollak Park (parking, boat ramp, restrooms, picnic, playground), or bear left and look for the cut-through (see map). Past the railroad bridge at Pollak Park the creek widens before emptying into the Indian River, but we stayed on the upstream side. The creek gets narrower, then a unique feature as entering the Sanctuary - high bluffs (remnants of ancient sand dunes).


Turkey Creek Sanctuary to the Dam

Turkey Creek Sanctuary has a nature center, hiking trails, boardwalk, restrooms, picnic) - the beach at the canoe dock is a good place to stop to snack and stretch your legs or walk on the trails or 1.85 mile boardwalk. The creek continues narrow and winding until approaching the dam, where it widens. The creek ends at the dam, past that point it becomes the Melbourne Tillman Canal. On this day, we saw a some manatee as we approached the dam.


Wildlife

Wildlife include wading birds, eagles, osprey, alligators, turtles and fish (we spotted some big gar). We saw various size alligators and 3-4 manatee while paddling upstream in the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. The dolphins were close to Goode Park and the Indian River. In addition to our "paddling trifecta," there were more turtles than we could count. The entire creek is a manatee zone with no-wake rules.

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