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Canoeing & Kayaking

Haulover Canal, Merritt Island FL
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Copyright 2000 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Art Littlefield, Village Outfitters, Cocoa FL
  • Date Submitted: 9/2000
  • Email:
  • Location: Haulover Canal connecting the Indian and Banana Rivers through Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Class: Typically flat water with wind driven waves
  • Distance Paddled: 4 miles round trip
  • Water: brackish
  • Wildlife: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Pelican, Cormorant, Anhinga, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbill, Royal Tern, Manatee, Mullet, Red Fish, Stingray, Otter

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: Take I-95 to Titusville exit 80 (SR 406) and go East toward Titusville, Cross US1 after 2.8 miles and continue across causeway over Indian River and past entrance to Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge after 4.3 miles. Continue east for another 1.4 miles (total 5.7 from I 95) and turn left just before the road begins to bear right. (There is a sign pointing left to Wildlife Drive and a JCT 406 sign). Continue on past Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and on to end of road. Go left (northwest) at the sign pointing to Haulover Canal. Another 4.5 miles takes you over the Haulover Canal drawbridge. Turn left (west) less than 1/4 mile past (North of) the bridge. A brown sign indicates Haulover Canal Recreation area. Follow the dirt road as it turns left, then right and parallels the canal until it reaches a wide beach area at the western end of the canal. This is the put-in and take-out.
  • GPS: N 28 degrees 43.86 W 80 degrees 45.68
  • Fee: none
  • Description: unpaved firm dirt beach
  • Parking: park in the ample unpaved parking area adjacent to the put-in
  • Facilities: There may be a restroom at the public boat ramp on the southwest side of the canal.

What We Saw

Paddle past the tiny limestone island just out from the put-in and go WSW to the closest island that you see. This island is about 0.6 miles from the put-in and is a protected bird sanctuary. GPS N 28 degrees 43.63 W 80 degrees 46.19.

Circumnavigate the island, staying outside the signs stating "Area Closed Beyond this Point". Notice the many pelicans and cormorants making this island their home. You may also see a roseate spoonbill, royal terns and many other birds taking advantage of this protected area. Returning close to the put-in, pass the tiny limestone island again and enter Haulover Canal.

This canal was built in the 1800s to allow steamboats and commerce into east central Florida. The location is close to an old natural canal which did not go completely through. That one had been used by the local native Americans as the shortest portage to haul their canoes between Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River. Thus the name Haulover Canal. Follow the canal ENE and watch for the occasional sea otter near or on the bank. Notice the limestone in places on the bank.

About 1/2 mile into the canal, you pass a small lagoon on the SE side where the public boat ramp enters the canal. Watch for manatees in this area. Continuing into the canal, just past the drawbridge, and on the left (NW) side, notice a wooden deck area. This is the Manatee Watch area and the manatees must know they are supposed to be here because there were 3 or 4 of them surfacing and eating the grass that collects in this area.

Return the way you came. There are several other possibilities from this same put-in. You can extend the trip past the Manatee Watch and go and explore the spoil islands in Mosquito Lagoon to the North of the canal (watch for a break in the North bank 1/2 mile or so E of the bridge). You can go SE from the put-in along the shore for 1.9 miles to the mouth of Dummett Creek (GPS N 28 degrees 42.37 W 80 degrees 45.18) and explore that. You can go 2.25 miles South from the put-in to the mouth of another unnamed creek (GPS N 28 degrees 41.71 W 80 degrees 45.65) and explore that. You can go 2.75 miles SSW from the put-in and explore along the shore of Black Point (GPS N 28 degrees 41.52 W 80 degrees 46.19) where the alternating sandy and grassy bottom is easily viewed through very clear water. Stingrays and Horseshoe Crabs are abundant there. Any of these options will provide even more quiet wildlife viewing since they get away from the fishermen and passing boat traffic of the canal itself. You can also follow the chain of spoil islands along the intracoastal waterway SW of the canal. Several of these including one 2.5 miles and one 4.5 miles from the put-in are good for camping. Whatever you choose, enjoy the Haulover Canal area and leave it as you found it for others to enjoy.