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Sykes Creek and the Barge Canal to the Port Canaveral Lock,
Merritt Island, Florida USA
Kiwanis Island Park
951 Kiwanis Island Park Road
Merritt Island, FL
Sykes Creek is a fairly wide, brackish, north-south waterway whose mouth is on the west side of the Banana River south of Kiwanis Park and SR-520.
Sykes Creek intersects the Barge Canal to the north of Kiwanis Park. The Barge Canal is an old man-made east-west canal that boats use to transit east from the inlet and lock at Port Canaveral, across the Banana River, through Merritt Island to the Intracoastal Waterway on the Indian River to the west of Sykes Creek.
Sykes creek is natural on its east shore which marks the western boundary of the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary (a great birding venue also good for kayaking and canoeing).
Sykes Creek has condo’s on its west shoreline on Merritt Island.
We launched on the west side of Kiwanis Island Park and paddled north under the Route 528 bridge to the Barge Canal immediately to the north of the bridge.
turned and kayaked east on the Barge Canal, across Merritt Island
passing under the Route 3 bridge to continue east across the Banana
River to the Port Canaveral Lock.
Just north of Kiwanis Island Park off Sykes Creek, the Barge Canal is lined with natural growth on both sides. It's open water but very pleasant. There are usually dolphin and manatee along this entire route.
prior to crossing to the locks, a short southerly paddle just under
the 528 bridge will take you to Kelly Park. Kiwanis
Island Park to Kelly Park and back is about 12 miles. To the locks
and back adds roughly 3 miles to the trip for a total of 15 miles
It is a worthy 3 miles to Kelly Park.
A stop can be made at the 528 bridge immediately to the south of the Barge Canal. Also there are some shallows where a paddler can stop for rest if needed. If you didn’t want to go to Kelly park there is usually a sand bar at the east end of barge canal as well as a beach area just before that.
The Canaveral Lock shown in the photo is an important thoroughfare for both commercial and pleasure boats. Pictured is a space shuttle solid rocket booster being transported from its recovery in the ocean back to land for reconditioning.
The lock itself with its strong operating currents and large boats is not a very safe transit for paddlers in kayaks and canoes, who can also launch easily from ramps on the ocean side of the locks instead.