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You are here > Home > Florida Eco-biking > Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
First report: Jan. 2011; latest updates: April 2016, March 2017

Eco-biking...  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife RefugeMerritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a top eco-biking destination due to its unique character and beauty. Established in 1963 as part of the development of Canaveral (John F. Kennedy) Space Center, the refuge 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. The dike roads are unpaved and may be shared with cars, but great for wildlife viewing and bird watching. The spectacular views of unspoiled natural habitat and birds roosting provide a colorful array. You can also see an occasional alligator. Some areas may be closed on days leading up to a rocket launch. Fishing within the Refuge requires a Refuge Fishing Permit. The information presented here is always subject to change due to weather, storms or other factors may shut down some areas. Check for current closures. (Detailed map and photos below.)


View Larger Map
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.).

Nearby Points of Interest: Manatee Observation Deck, Kennedy Space Center, Canaveral National Seashore, Playalinda Beach; fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking.

THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH

This is fat-tire biking in one of America's premier bird-watching areas, several sections are worthwhile nature rides. The hard-packed dirt roads can be rutted and bumpy, and other sections will be grassy and overgrown but the scenery is unmatched! We do not recommend biking on the main roads due to heavy traffic and no bike lanes.

Black Point Wildlife Drive is popular for birdwatching and there are facilities at the Cruikshank trailhead; many cars make this a better weekday ride. Biolab Road is a smoother ride but also can have many cars; more gators but not as many birds as some other areas. The series of roads at Gator Creek are mostly rutted and bumpy. Shiloh Marsh Road is a favorite for the views, birds, and no cars. All areas are subject to change depending on damage from storms and the like, our descriptions are based on observations at the time.

BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
(tap or hover over photo for a larger view)

Black Point Wildlife Drive, 7 miles
This is a popular, one-way drive with a low speed-limit. While smoother than other rides, the cars can be a distraction. Due to a large number of cars on weekends, it's best to visit on weekdays. With 330 varieties of bird counted, this is one of the premier birding areas in the world and draws many visitors in the winter - biking provides a "birds-eye" view of the abundant wildlife. An observation tower is midway at the Cruishank trailhead and offers a view of the marshes. Restrooms available. Access the 5-mile Cruikshank Trail (hiking trail) at the tower. (Reported: Jan. 2011)
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Access is off Brewer Memorial Pkwy.
Fee applies
Along Wildlife Drive Wild Bird trailhead (1/4 mile loop trail) Birds Along Wildlife Drive
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Birds Cruikshank
trailhead
Start of Cruikshank Trail, to observation tower Views from observation deck
at the trailhead
Biolab Road - 6 miles
Relatively straight north-south road from the Biolab Road boat launch at SR3 to SR406. The road on hard-packed dirt runs between the Mosquito Lagoon and a marsh impoundment where gators are often seen. The middle section is usually great for viewing alligators, but not as many birds as the other trails. The road bed tends to be smoother than Gator Creek or Shiloh Roads, which makes for a more comfortable ride. There are more cars on weekends - best to visit on weekdays. From here you can also see the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center and the vehicle assembly building. Boat launch, no facilities. (Reported, Jan. 2011, April 2016)
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Entrance at SR 406 Along Biolab Road View of Kennedy Space Center Along Biolab Road Parking at Biolab boat ramp (SR 3)
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Gators along Biolab Road Birds along Biolab Road
Gator Creek - 12 miles
Another option for biking is the 12-mile network of roads at Gator Creek, including Catfish Creek Loop and Peacocks Pocket Road. This area runs south of SR 406, looping east-west from shortly after the causeway to just east of the Refuge Visitor's Center. Can be rough in spots, sections are sometimes closed to traffic. Plenty of birds and alligators make for interesting views. (Reported: Oct. 2012, April 2016)
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Gator Creek Peacocks Pocket  
Shiloh Marsh Road - 11 miles
With several entrances off US1 and SR3, this road can be biked in sections. Weaving north and south along the shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon, you always have water on both sides. Lots of birds. Great sunsets. Closed to motor vehicles except for a short section at Patillo Creek Road open for fishing and small boat/canoe/kayak launching. Some fishermen but overall quiet. From the northern access off US1 to Patillo Creek Road the roadway ranges from hard-packed dirt to grass, but bikeable. The area south of Patillo Creek Road is overgrown and not suitable for biking. Areas may be closed due to storms (check with the Park rangers).  No facilities.
Biking at the northern end of Shiloh Marsh Road
The access road starts off US1 about 3/4 mile south of the intersection with SR 3. Drive two miles to the parking area and entrance to the dike road. Popular with birdwatchers and for fishing. The first half mile is easier riding due to the heavy foot traffic here. Further on, it gets more grassy - rideable but a workout. The views though, make it all worthwhile. (Reported: March 2017)
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Entry off US1 and access road Parking area Start of Shiloh Marsh Road at north parking area Path is well worn due to foot traffic
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Path less worn Starting to get overgrown And more overgrown Dot out in the water is a fisherman in waders Great birdwatching
Shiloh Marsh Road - middle, near Taylor Rd.
The access point is about .2 mile south of and across from Taylor Road (sign for WSEG Boat Ramp), then about .7 mile to Shiloh Marsh Road. The access road may be closed to vehicles. Roadway here ranges from hard-packed dirt to grassy. (Reported: March 2017)
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Access off SR3, closed to vehicles this day Access road Past a gate Access road, grassier Another gate, and onto Shiloh Marsh Road
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Northbound on Shiloh Marsh Road - bikeable View from Shiloh Marsh Road Birds in flight
Shiloh Marsh Road, middle at Patillo Creek
Access point is about 1.75 miles south of Taylor Road and .75 mile north of the radar globe. This is the only section open to motor vehicles for fishing, or launching small boats, kayaks and canoes. The roadway here is wide and hard-packed. Gates shut off the road to vehicles at the north and south ends: to the north, bikeable on dirt and grass; to the south, overgrown and not bikeable. (Reported: April 2016, March 2017)
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Access to Patillo Creek Road off SR3 Onto Shiloh Marsh Road from
Patillo Creek Road
Along
Shiloh Marsh Road
Vehicles allowed in this section A series of canals in this area are popular for fishing
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Along Shiloh Marsh Road There are several pull-off areas for fishing access, kayak/canoe launch. Gate at the north end - bikeable Gate at the south end - not bikeable
Southern end of Shiloh Marsh Road
No biking in this section but some interesting stops along the road. Shiloh Marsh Road ends at Live Oak Road, not bikeable at this point.
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Off SR3, look for the
big white radar globe
3/10 mile south of the globe, Live Oak Road leads to a parking area for fishing, walking and small boat launch Cemetery
Several small cemeteries and ruins still exist from the Shiloh community (1800's)
Haulover Canal - Manatee Viewing
The canal was built in 1856 during the 3rd Seminole War, and is now (wider and deeper) part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It's unknown why exactly manatee congregate here, but it's a popular spot in the winter.
Birds along Shiloh Marsh Road
Birdwatching is popular here. These are just a few, too many to count! We've seen coots, osprey, white pelicans, herons, roseate spoonbill, songbirds, and more. A woman we met told us she had counted 54 species so far that day.
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Also visit us here: Paddling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

More information on the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge (opens in a new window):

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

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