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Latest update: February 2020

Florida Eco-biking...  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is fun eco-biking due to its unique character and beauty. Here biking is mostly a means to an end, which is (1) the enjoyment of nature at a speed that expands your views, and also (2) it lessens time for insects to hone in. Established in 1963 as part of the development of Canaveral (John F. Kennedy) Space Center, the refuge consists of 140,000 acres that provide habitat for over 1,500 species of plants and animals. The earthen berm roads are unpaved, some open to cars, some not, all great for wildlife viewing, especially bird watching in the winter months. Fishing requires a Refuge Fishing Permit. Occasional closures due to rocket launches. The information presented here is subject to change due to storm damage, area closures, and Refuge policy. Check for current closures . (Detailed map, photos below.)

biking at Merritt Island

Bike Map...
Merritt Island Eco-Biking


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Location: 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. Activities include fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking.

Bike Shops/Rentals:

Coast to Coast Bicycle Company (Titusville)

Support and Advocacy:

Merritt Island National Wildlife Assn.

MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE... Comments and Photos

First and foremost, we do not recommend biking on the paved main roads due to traffic, no shoulders, and no bike lanes. This is wide-tire biking on hard-packed dirt and grass roads on the earthen berms that shape the water impoundment areas. Originally created for mosquito control, the Refuge has become one of America's premier bird-watching areas. Some roads are open to cars, some are not. Roads closed to cars soon become grassy, getting more overgrown beyond the distance typically walked by fisherman and birdwatchers. Here the biking itself is less than ideal, but the solitude, fresh air, and scenery can be wonderful. Weather is key to enjoyment - best when cool, dry, and sunny. We report on 5 Refuge trails with a variety of biking.

Black Point Wildlife Drive - 7 miles. Best maintained, but many cars. Starts and ends along Max Brewer Memorial Pkwy., riding about a 1 mile on the main road between the start-end points is required to make a loop. Suggestion: drive and hike this one.
Biolab Road
- 6 miles. Newly renovated, now one-way.
Gator Creek
- 12-mile network of roads. Usually open to cars, but at sections, cars are sometimes blocked, which is an invitation for us.
L-Pond Road - 5.5 miles on dikes along Dummitt Cove and the Indian River
Shiloh Marsh Road
- 11 miles.
Note: Conditions are subject to change due to storm damage and Refuge policy. Hopefully useful, our descriptions are but a glimpse in time.


Black Point Wildlife Drive, 7 miles

One of the most popular attractions in the Refuge, well maintained, one-way with a low speed-limit. Fee applies (box at entrance). With 330 varieties of bird counted, this is one of the premier birding areas in the world and draws many wintertime visitors - biking provides a "birds-eye" view of the wildlife. 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. Past midway along the drive is the Cruikshank Trailhead with parking and restrooms. Two observation decks offer more expansive views. The 5-mile Cruikshank Trail is the longest hiking trail in the Refuge. Note: Cruikshank Trail is now only open to hikers. (Updated: February 2020)

Max Brewer Memorial Pkwy. to Cruikshank Trailhead

Cruikshank Trailhead Back to Max Brewer Memorial Pkwy.


Biolab Road - 6 miles

The 6 mile Biolab Road scenic drive - previously closed to repair storm damage - has now reopened as one-way for vehicles, from north to south. The entrance to the drive is off Kennedy Parkway/SR 3, near the end of Biolab Road just before the parking area for the Biolab Road Boat Ramp (launch fee, no facilities). The drive ends at SR 402 (road to Canaveral National Seashore). Day fee applies for the Scenic Drive (box at entrance to the drive). The roadway runs between Mosquito Lagoon and a marsh impoundment, where alligators are often seen. The marsh area at about the mid-section is usually the best place to spot alligators, but not as many birds as the other trails. The roadway is maintaineed better than Gator Creek or Shiloh Roads, which makes for a more comfortable ride. The road is shared with motor vehicles and fishermen, with more cars on weekends, it's best to visit on weekdays. From here you can also see the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center and the vehicle assembly building. Note: about 3/4 mile before reaching SR 402 the road becomes two-way, allowing for access to a fishing area and boat launch - the spur to the launch is also bikeable. (Updated: February 2020)

Biolab Road Scenic Drive

Biolab Road Boat Ramp


Gator Creek - 12 miles

Another option for biking is the 12-mile network of narrow berm roads at Gator Creek, including Catfish Creek Loop and Peacocks Pocket Road. Extremely rutted, so it's spot, stop, and look. usually some gators and a variety of water birds nearing southern section. This area is south of SR 406, looping east-west from shortly after the causeway to just past of the Refuge Visitor's Center. Sections are sometimes closed to traffic. Plenty of birds and alligators make for interesting views. (Updated: April 2016)


L-Pond Road - 5.5 miles

L-Pond Road is a favorite ride, running on dikes along Dummitt Cove and the Indian River with many birds and outstanding views of the cove and river on one side and marsh on the other. The road totals about 5.5 miles between Black Point Wildlife Drive (about 1.5 miles northeast of the Cruikshank Trailhead) and Kennedy Parkway/CR3 (about 1/4 mile south of Biolab Road). It was overgrown and unbikeable for several years, we were happy to see it now passable. We rode between Kennedy Pkwy. and Wildlife Drive. At the ends, foot traffic - mostly fishermen - keeps the overgrowth manageable, the middle section is more overgrown but bikeable with fat tires. The road is gated off, closed to vehicle traffic but popular for fishing. Note: This also is a waterfowl hunting area, so keep alert during hunting season. (Updated: February 2020)

Starting at Kennedy Pkwy.

 

Approaching Wildlife Drive

 

 
 

Shiloh Marsh Road - 11 miles

With several entrances off US 1 and SR 3, 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 US 1 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. (Updated: March 2017)

Biking at the northern end of Shiloh Marsh Road

The access road starts off US 1 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.


Shiloh Marsh Road - middle, near Taylor Rd.

The access point is about 0.2 mile south of and across from Taylor Road (sign for WSEG Boat Ramp), then about 0.7 mile to Shiloh Marsh Road. The access road may be closed to vehicles. Roadway here ranges from hard-packed dirt to grassy.


Shiloh Marsh Road, middle at Patillo Creek

Access point is about 1.75 miles south of Taylor Road and 0.75 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.


Southern end of Shiloh Marsh Road

No biking in this section but some interesting stops along the road.

  • 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. Shiloh Marsh Road ends at Live Oak Road, not bikeable at this point.
  • Several small cemeteries and ruins still exist from the Shiloh community (1800's)
  • Manatee Viewing at Haulover Canal - 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.


More Wildlife

Here are some we've seen off the Wildlife Drive. Birdwatching is popular here, with 358 species identified - we've seen coots, osprey, white pelicans, herons, roseate spoonbill, songbirds, and more. We chatted with a birdwatcher who told us she had counted 54 species so far that day. Other wildlife includes alligators, manatee, 140 species of freshwater and saltwater fish, bobcat, deer, and otter.

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