Eco-biking... Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
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. Bicycling on the dikes in the Refuge provide spectacular views of unspoiled natural habitat and birds roosting here provide a colorful array. You can also see an occasional alligator.
We don't recommend biking on the main roads due to heavy traffic and no bike lanes. The dike roads are unpaved and may be shared with cars, but great for wildlife viewing and bird watching. Storms over the past few years have closed down some areas of the dikes (note: the information presented here is always subject to change due to weather), but the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a top eco-biking destination due to its unique character and beauty. Access to some areas is closed on days leading up to a rocket launch. Fishing within the Refuge requires a Refuge Fishing Permit. (More description, photos and map below.)
THE BEST TRAIL SECTIONS TO RIDE... and additional comments by MUDFISH
This is fat-tire biking on hard-packed dirt in one of America's premier bird-watching areas. Several sections are worthwhile nature rides. These areas are subject to change depending on damage from storms and the like, our descriptions are based on observations at the time.
Wildlife Drive, 7 miles, best on weekdays. This is a popular, one-way drive with a low speed-limit. While smoother than other rides, the cars can be a distraction.
Shiloh Marsh Road, 11 miles. With several entrances (only 2 by car) this road can be biked in sections, most are closed due to storms. Weaving north and south, you always have water on both sides. Lots of birds. Great sunsets. Some fishermen, but overall, very few cars. Closed to motor vehicles November 1-February 15 to avoid disturbing winter waterfowl.
A 12-mile network of roads including Gator Creek, Peacocks Pocket, and Catfish Creek Loop runs south of SR 406, looping east-west from shortly after the causeway to just east of the Refuge Visitor's Center. Parts can be rutty and bumpy, but plenty of birds and alligators make for interesting views. This section is sometimes closed to cars.
Biolab Road, 6 miles. Best on weekdays. Relatively straight north-south road from the Biolab Road boat launch at SR3 to SR 406. 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, but there are more cars on weekends.
BOBCAT'S PHOTO GALLERY
at Merritt Island Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
Black Point Wildlife Drive is one of the premier birding areas in the world and draws many visitors in the winter with 330 varieties of bird counted. Most drive the 7-mile road (15 mph), which is also an easy bike ride on hard-packed dirt and provides a "birds-eye" view of the abundant wildlife. An observation tower is midway along the trail and offers a view of the marshes. Access the 5-mile Cruikshank Trail (hiking trail) at the tower. Because of the number of cars on weekends, it's best to bike here during the week.
Biolab Road - from here you can also see the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center and the vehicle assembly building. The 6-mile road on hard-packed dirt runs between the Mosquito Lagoon and a marsh impoundment where gators are often seen.
Shiloh Marsh Road is a 11-mile road off SR 3 that follows the shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon, there are no facilities. The road is closed to traffic during waterfowl season (Nov. 1 - March 15) but open to foot traffic and biking for fishing and wildlife viewing.
The road was damaged by storms and now mostly overgrown - a short portion at the Patillo Road access point is bike-able. Wildlife and bird viewing abound.
Another option for biking is the network of roads at Gator Creek, including Catfish Creek Loop and Peacocks Pocket Road, south of SR 406. Can be rough in spots. Sections are sometimes closed to traffic.
Also visit us here: Paddling at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
More information on the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge (opens in a new window):
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
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